BY RICH DAVIS
PHOTO BY PETER SPURRIER
Some people do seem to have more innate feel for the boat than others. That feeling may actually be an enhanced sense of balance, timing, or even an affinity for symmetry. But boat feel can also be taught.
It’s true that some athletes may take longer to acquire this vital skill than others, and there may be moments when you think it will never come. But rest assured it eventually does.
What can you do while waiting for that moment to arrive? Since the erg gives little sense of movement, try supplementing your indoor training with exercise ball work. This will go a long way toward improving muscle sense, or kinesthesia. In addition, try tightening and relaxing the muscles used in rowing to become more aware of the movement and position of your body (proprioception).
For example, many rowers who lunge at the catch do not have a sense that their backs are moving forward excessively. After all, it’s hard to stop doing something that you can’t feel you’re doing. But being more aware of the movements and position of the body through the sensory organs in the muscles and joints will help to develop boat feel.
This will make a difference in how you execute a start, bump up the stroke rate, and settle in. Have patience and continue to train in ways that allow you to become aware of the movements of our sport.