Showing posts from 2010

8 Tips to Tackle Your 2k Erg Test

Lightweights racing at Crash-Bs in 2012 (Photo: B. Kitch) The junior and collegiate indoor rowing season is just around the corner, and that means sooner or later you are going be testing yourself for 2,000 meters along with your teammates. Whether it's at your club's boathouse, a regional championship, or Crash-Bs, there are a few tips that can help you to achieve your goals this winter. There are as many ways to approach a 2k as there are people rowing, but given my experience the following, simple tricks can put you in the right place when the electronic starting official let's you know it's time to go. 1. Don't worry if you can't sleep. Being nervous is natural, and look at it from the positive standpoint of neurological and physiological preparation: your body and mind are ready to get after it. That's good. The best advice I ever heard regarding sleep was as simple as this: when your body needs sleep, it takes it (I believe this came from Matt Pi

Six-Part Series: What Makes the Great Ones Great?

Announcing a new, six-part series coming to RowingRelated on the characteristics of great athletes across all sports, and what we can learn from both their actions and personalities. Once a week, the RR Staff will look at one aspect of the successful athlete's character, making use of examples from mainstream sports as well as rowing. In so doing, we will delineate the athletic mindset and provide the reader with a new perspective on how to view professional and amateur athletes, as well as how to make the most of his or her own competitive drive. We believe there are six common traits among all great athletes in all sports. In this weekly series we will provide an in-depth analysis of each of these qualities and why we think they are necessary components in all great athletes. 1. Confidence What separates belief in yourself and your abilities from arrogance, and how can cockiness and self-confidence possibly serve to enhance your performance physiologically? 2. Ability t

Video of the Week: Polish Quad

This week's video comes to us from Poland. The Polish Men's Quad, which won gold in Beijing, is shown here during what appears to be a low-rate AT training session. The base rating is 26 s/m—a number at which they arrive with the greatest of ease because of their aggressive, unified drive phase and smooth release, not disturbing the boat and allowing it to run out to the fullest extent before placing the blades once again (the shot of the bow sliding through the water is informative). If you watch the sculler at stroke, you can easily see how much thought and practice he has put into honing his technique. Not only is his sculling superb (in my opinion, the he is the most polished sculler of the crew), his breathing is equally as rhythmic and controlled. If you take a closer look at each one of the scullers, idiosyncrasies will start to emerge. The sculler at bow breaks his arms as he takes the catch, and the two-seat allows his knees to fall over the gunwales just slightly,

Chula Vista Bound: Is Now the Right Time?

The Wall Street Journal got involved in the debate surrounding the US National Team this week, publishing an article that is the first appearance to date of any reasoning behind the moves as expressed by Glenn Merry himself. The rationale, according to Merry, is directly related to training -- the warmer climate in California allows year round training on the water, and, given the US men's failure to bring home any hardware from Karapiro in November, the US Rowing leadership decided that the move would facilitate rapid improvement in small boat categories. The results from the RR short answer poll show that the move is a divisive issue: 38% believed the move was a bad decision, while 32% backed the move to California and 28% remained undecided. While I believe this is the right move in the long-term, there are a number of problems yet to be addressed in the wake of such a dramatic shift, and only 20 months left to resolve them. First, let's look at the benefits of the move fr

Coaches' Corner: Swing

One of the most important, rhythmic sequences in the stroke is the movement of the upper body from the finish position through to the body-set position.    The video above, published by Everett Rowing Association , is a good example of the benefits of good swing. The stern four of this crew have gone on to prominence in the collegiate rowing ranks, and the eight move very well together out of the bow.  Swing is easy to work on during the winter, as is team-wide uniformity of swing, by lining up the ergs at your training session and having the rowers do their steady state training together. If your team can match their hand and body movements as they establish good body position on land, it will solve a great deal of issues when you take to the water once again in the spring. Swing begins with good posture at the release.   The rower must be sitting tall, making sure that the ribcage is not collapsed over the hips. The abs must be engaged in this position, so that they can easily i

Winter Workouts: Why Do Rowers Fear the Erg?

Op-Ed from the RowingRelated Editorial Staff Friend. Not foe. (Illustration: B. Kitch) I am really frustrated by our sport when it comes to the erg being viewed as a torture device rather than a helpful tool that people can enjoy. This negative mindset, which is extremely contagious, plagues the sport, preventing athletes from training to their potential and possibly serving as one of the reasons that careers in rowing, at every level, are often so short. When compared to other endurance sports, I have not encountered an equal level of disdain for such fundamental mental and physical endurance training. My main problem is that everywhere I turn in the rowing community, whether it's high school rowers, college athletes, or even national team hopefuls, I hear of people dreading the erg. I've never heard about a cross country runner 'dreading' a track workout. True, basketball and football players may dread running wind sprints or other such conditioning acti

Lightweight Speed: Spring Predictions

Newell Boathouse (Photo: B. Kitch) The Fall season was dominated by Princeton , but Harvard had quite a showing at both the Charles and the Princeton Chase. Cornell's Varsity performed very well in Boston, but lacks the depth of the front runners. Yale has a ton of power, but as yet they're not applying it well enough to keep pace with their two main rivals. Georgetown also had solid showings at both the Charles and the Chase, but is anyone going to catch Princeton this year? Lightweight racing is almost always close. For that reason, and because all the programs are given very similar parts to make up the whole, it's considered by some to be the most interesting form of racing. You are unlikely to see the kind of separation from the field that Cal and Washington had in the Varsity VIII last June. Still, the Tigers had a fantastic Fall. Not only did the Varsity break the course record at the Charles (by twelve seconds), but also the Tiger JV took seventh overall.

What is Behind USRowing Changes? What Does New Title Mean for Korzo?

In the most recent development from USRowing this December, it was announced today that Kris Korzeniowski will take on the role of Director of Coaching Education, remaining in Princeton while the US men's team takes up its new residences in Chula Vista and Oklahoma City. While I can understand the reasoning behind making use of two training centers given the circumstances, it is difficult to understand the rationale behind this move. Just before CRI's launch of its new coaching education program, USRowing wants to expand its own education programs. Last year, with the fledgling ACRA Championship beginning to establish itself, USRowing created its own collegiate rowing championship regatta. I'm not sure whether this has to do with bandwagon planning or a belief that the governing body of the sport should be profiting from events and programs similar to the coaching education credential at CRI, but it's a strange and similar pattern. Why create competing regattas and prog

Clarification of Changes Made to US Rowing Program

On Friday last week, I wrote to Megan Kalmoe asking her a number of questions regarding the changes made to the US Rowing program. Despite her busy schedule, she took the time to write back with some clear answers. The information is summarized below: First, all selection regattas will continue to be held at Mercer Lake, West Windsor, NJ. US Rowing's view is that fewer athletes from US Rowing Training Centers will attend these regattas in the future -- boats will more commonly be selected via the camp system, prior to the NSRs. Given this, they will send only a limited amount of athletes to these events, to finalize selection. Regarding the separation of the men's heavyweight and lightweight teams, Kalmoe said that her feeling is that there is currently insufficient space to run two programs out of the Arco facility. Apparently, many of the heavyweight men will already have to seek offsite housing, as the their number exceeds that of the available residency spots. By making

A Week After Announcement, Many Questions Remain Unanswered for US Rowing

The upcoming changes regarding US Rowing's training programs and facilities, acknowledged last week following a meeting of the High Performance Committee, have yet to be explained in full by the governing body, nor has any official announcement been made regarding the release of former coach Kris Korzeniowski. The decisions regarding the movement of the men's heavyweight and lightweight teams marked a drastic break with the system in place for the last two decades, with Princeton as a focal point for the US National Team, and the new rationale seems to focus on regional, weight-class specific training centers. This much can be deduced from the text of the announcements -- but will the reasoning behind such massive changes be revealed? There are a number of questions that immediately come to mind regarding the movement of the men's squad(s). The first has to do with selection. Since the new training centers are both over 1, 400 miles from Princeton (Chula Vista is 2, 700 m

Changing Situation for US Rowing

Yesterday, I published an article regarding the changes taking place with US Rowing. After reflecting upon it, I later decided that it was too early to form a strong opinion about the moves, given that so little of the background information has been released. I do, however, feel that it is important to acknowledge the changes taking place, as they have a great effect on the athletes training for London. Up to this point, the most informative article is posted to , as she sits on the HPC (High Performance Committee) as an athlete representative. From her position, she has access to the information behind the scenes, and being that she is there as an athlete representative, presumably she has a sense for how her fellow athletes are handling the situation. Overall, she describes the feeling coming out of the meetings as positive. The facts are as follows: The men's heavyweight program will move to the Arco Training Center in Chula Vista, CA, under the direction of

10 Attributes That Make a Great Coach

Yale's Steve Gladstone with the crew in Boston (Photo: Nick Trojan) Having toured the club circuit, I've been coached by a number of great athletes and leaders. Along the way, each coach contributed something specific to the overall picture, and each did so in a different way. I know this is a common experience, and over the years I've often mused about what features most stood out for me, in a positive way, among all my former coaches. Is it possible to list such attributes? Or are there too many intangibles, like personality and even manner of speaking, that play an important role? I figured I would take a crack at making a list: 1. Confidence For others to believe in what you are teaching, you need to believe in it yourself, and this takes the form of confidence. This is not to be confused with arrogance, which prevents a coach from improving. Confidence simply means that you have faith in your abilities and in the validity of your plan or training program. 2. Consi

For International Success, Post-Collegiate Club Rowing Must Become More Integrated, Competitive

Over the past few months and years we have seen a steady decline in the funding and support of 'non-revenue' men's athletics—or 'Olympic Sports' as Steve Gladstone called them while serving as Athletic Director at Cal. This process began with Title IX in 1990, and has recently picked up speed with a number of the state-funded schools experiencing financial setbacks due to the state of the economy. Just recently, we saw the latest victims here in the Bay Area fall to the economic pressures of rebuilding California and restructuring University of California finances, as the Cal Men's Baseball team was cut from the athletics department, along with the Men's Rugby team. Both were programs with a long history of success—the rugby squad was the most dominant such program in the United States, but when it comes time to cut spending, men's athletics are often the first item on the chopping block. In rowing, the few remaining varsity programs on the men's s

Coaches' Corner: Finish and Release

The release (where the outside hand taps the handle down causing the blade to exit the water on the square) is the most important position to master first because it is the key to initiating a good recovery and, therefore, a good catch.  Cal women's rowing training in Seattle (Photo: B. Kitch for Rowing News ) It is important that posture is maintained as the handle is drawn through the finish (if the body slumps down into the boat, the rower cannot possibly maintain pressure on the handle as the support structure for the work of the arms lies in the static strength of the core), so the first step is to make sure that your athletes are sitting up tall, which requires development of the core musculature. The next item to focus on is the position of the hands.  The handle should be drawn to the top of the rib cage, at which point the rower presses downwards with the outside hand, making a vertical turn (a 90 degree angle change in the trajectory of the handle), to a poi

Marin Junior Men Set Gold Standard This Fall

The Marin Juniors have shown a level of dominance this Fall that has the rest of the junior rowing world looking for an answer. The Marin RA boys, led by Graham Willoughby, began their Fall campaign with perhaps the biggest statement possible on the grandest stage available -- a first place finish at the Head of the Charles from a 69th place starting position . In so doing, they trumped Everett's push to surpass Eton College, the 3rd and 1st place starters respectively. Everett can be very pleased that they too triumphed over what has been a powerhouse British school for several years now, but clearly they had much less to deal with in front of them than did Marin, whose coxswain steered a fantastic course and allowed his rowers to ignore the distractions that go along with passing, turning and adjusting speed on the Charles. In speaking with Willoughby, he described it as an almost automated series of decisive moves that his veteran coxswain was able to make -- exactly what you ne

Gladstone Will Create Another Dominant Program at Yale

Lined up at the start on the Cooper River (Photo: H. Kitch) Steve Gladstone made a big move earlier this year, leaving his position at the California Rowing Club to take on the role of head coach at Yale . This left CRC without a head coach, as assistant Joel Scrogin accompanied Gladstone, and led to widespread speculation as to the reasons behind the move. The rivalry between Harvard's Harry Parker and Gladstone, perhaps one of the most intense and important in U.S. collegiate rowing's history, is widely considered to be the main reason for the change of venue. Yale has been far behind the curve for quite a while, but I believe their new chief is going to turn all that on its head. Each program that Gladstone has touched has turned to gold, and, unlike Parker, who has been at Harvard his entire coaching career (though he has coached crews representing the U.S. at the world championships and the Olympics, in addition to his duties at Harvard), Gladstone has moved aro

Which US Men's Entries Earned Another Round in Karapiro?

The US men's squad came home from Karapiro without a single medal, of any color, to show for its efforts this year. However, there were some crews who showed that they have potential, this being their first chance at the World Championships. Which entries earned another trip around the international circuit? In my view, the crew that most deserves some time to stay together and develop is the M4- . This is a group that got together only weeks before Worlds, and, despite having no international experience as a unit, managed to place a very respectable 5th in what is one of the most hotly contested Olympic events on the men's side. Also, looking at the way the final played out, it seems that there were some serious issues with fairness and wind interference, so we may not have seen all that this group was capable of this time. I know that the event was slightly weaker than it might have been, had the GB squad not taken Reed and Triggs-Hodge out of the 4- and put them

Who's Ahead as Winter Training Begins?

Fall racing is always unpredictable, and not necessarily indicative of Spring speed. However, there are several collegiate programs who made quite a loud statement in the early going this year. Let's take a look given the results from the main event of the Fall -- the Head of the Charles. The most dominant program on the men's side this Fall was Harvard . The program at Harvard had two boats in the top ten in the the Lightweight VIII, the Championship VIII, the Club VIII, and the Championship IV. That is truly an impressive showing, and while they couldn't catch the blazing fast Tigers in the Lightweight VIII (who blew away the old course record by 12 seconds, albeit in the best conditions I've ever seen at the Charles), they revealed amazing depth in that event, with two VIIIs finishing 3rd and 4th overall, both in under 14:31. The Harvard Champ VIII managed to beat Cal -- last year's IRA Champion -- and take 2nd place overall, behind what will surely be a contend

US Men's Rowing Performance in Karapiro: Rough Waters

The US men's squad emerges from the competition in Karapiro with very little to show for its efforts this year, though this does not do justice to the improvements that have been made over the past twelve months. The cold, hard fact is, this year's team did not take a single medal of any color home from Karapiro, failing one of the major criteria laid out as a basis for saying McLaren's program is working as we head toward London. Even in events that were not well subscribed (the 2+ and the LWT VIII), the US couldn't manage a podium finish, and of the boats that made A Finals (including final-only events, this amounted to four) the best finish by a US crew was 5th place. Now, as far as improvements go, there are a couple of things to talk about, most notably the 4-, which didn't even make the B final last year, and which finished in 5th place overall during this year's campaign. A great deal of work has gone into this boat, and the results show that a tremendous

US Men Make A Finals in Two Olympic Events

The Men's VIII will join the list of US men's crews in the A Finals this year, winning their rep just ahead of NZ, and sending the Canadians to the B Final. So far the A Finals tally is two, not counting the boats in events with six entries or less (the Men's 2+, the LWT 4x and the LWT VIII). The 2-, 2x, LWT 4-, LWT 2x, LWT 2-, and the 1x have all landed themselves in the B Final, leaving the US men with four shots at the medals, and two chances at Olympic-class medals so far. This could grow to six chances at the podium, should Anderson and Ochal make the A Final in the 2x (another Olympic event), and should Urevick-Ackelsberg make the A Final in the LWT 1x (though in field with Jonathan Koch, Peter Chambers and Duncan Grant, medals will be tough to come by). The 2010 regatta is certainly an improvement from last year, when the US men were completely shut out of the A Finals in Olympic events, and finished second-to-last in the VIII -- an event in which they took the br

US Men's 4- Wins Rep to Earn Place in A Final

The performance of the day for the US men's team was turned in by the 4-, led by Silas Stafford of Stanford. The crew placed themselves firmly in medal contention with a solid performance, holding off a late sprint from the Italian crew immediately to starboard. It's a great sign moving forward and exactly the type of performance needed to set the tone as we draw closer to London. Stafford, Stitt, Rummel and Lanzone also make up the first of the US men's Olympic-class boats to make the the A Final this year -- something that is extremely important for Tim McLaren as he tries to harness the potential of the US club system in preparation for 2012 (as I've discussed ). Tomorrow will feature a very tough race for the Men's LWT 4-, in a heat with Germany, Great Britain, Italy, and France -- all perennial powerhouses in the event. If the US can make it through to the A Final from this semi, they too will have placed themselves in medal contention, having raced some of t

Strong Start for US Men in Karapiro

The US men's team has opened up very well across the board thus far in Karapiro, with the LM4- making a big statement in their heat, finishing second and going straight to the A/B semi. The LM 2- finished third in their heat (behind quality entries from NZ and France), and will be heading to the reps, as will the M4-, stroked by Silas Stafford, who also opened up very well, finishing 2nd behind an excellent NZ crew. In the 2-, Monaghan and McEachern took 3rd, placing themselves in semifinal A/B in one of the toughest events at the regatta, and Dan Urevick-Ackelsberg did just enough to take the 3rd qualifying position in the LM1x as well, landing himself in the A/B semi. The 2x combination of Anderson and Ochal competed very well in their opener, taking 2nd behind another quality entry from Great Britain. They'll now set their sights on the A/B semi along with many of their teammates. The toughest result for the US to this point has come in the M1x, with Ken Jurkowski coming acr

Honeymoon Over for Tim McLaren -- Results Please

As the US men take to the water in Karapiro, the looming questions about current Head Coach Tim McLaren are: can he have the same success in the US 'system' (really a euphemism for a random selection of clubs and athletes all over the country who come together, usually at the last minute, and are thrown into lineups largely based on erg scores) that he had in the much more structured Australian one? Can he impose that same kind of structure on the truly amateur sport in the US? How will the US Team fair in the second year of his coaching regime? What are acceptable results? Last year's performance at the World Championships did not make a sterling impression on his adopted home, as none of the camp boats medaled -- in fact, the only boats that took home any hardware at all were the victorious Coxed Pair (Henrik Rummel and Troy Kepper), and the second-place Lightweight VIII. Neither is an Olympic event, and the Lightweight VIII had only 9 entries (though, to be fair, it'