Drills to improve Rowing
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In general, rowers are all round athletes because they need a strong upper body and arms to stroke the oars, a strong back and abdominal muscles to sustain the stroke speed, and powerful legs to help drive the oars. Rowing drills isolate each part of the body and the stroke cycle to help athletes row better, harder and faster.
Legs Only Rowing – Start with your oar in the drive position and drive only using your legs. Lock your arms and shoulders and propel the boat only using the power of your legs. Build on this drill by doing 10 strokes with only your legs, 10 strokes using just your back and arms, and then back to 10 strokes of legs only. Do this for 10 repetitions.
Wide Grip Sculling – Hold your oar below the rubber grip, on the narrow part of the blade shaft. Do 10 strokes with your hands in this position. Move on from this by doing 10 wide grip strokes, 10 normal grip strokes, and then back to 10 wide grip strokes again. Do this for 10 repetitions.
One legged Squats - Find a high bench or stable stool and stand on it such that one leg dangles over the outside edge. Your dangling foot should not touch the ground when doing the squat, so make sure your bench is tall enough.
When you first attempt this drill, you may need to hold onto the wall. Slowly lower yourself into a squat position and then stand up. Try to go down till your thigh is parallel to the ground. Do three repetitions of 10 squats for each leg.
Back and forth medicine ball - You will need to work in pairs for this drill. Sit on the ground facing your partner about 1m apart. Lie down and hold the medicine ball over your head in a sit up position. Your partner remains sitting upright. Shout a word or make a sound to alert them you are going to sit up. As you fully sit up, release the ball to your partner. He/she will catch the medicine ball and control their body to lie down while holding the ball above their heads. Throw the medicine ball back and forth until you are comfortable with throwing and catching. Slowly increase the distance between the both of you and do 3 repetitions of 15 throws each.
Plop Drill - This drill is for crews to learn to maintain their balance. Have the crew sit comfortably in their boat and hold their oars with blades in the water as though they are stroking. Without giving any commands, have them try to raise and lower their oars at the same time. The goal is to keep the boat balanced for as long as possible. Crews with poor timing will pitch (move the boat too much to the side, and this may cause the boat to capsize or slow the boat down during a race) the boat in no time. This drill encourages them to anticipate the rhythm collectively, so they can row better as a crew.
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