Robin Williams |

Technique: the connection

How can you have a better connection at the catch? Robin Williams breaks it down and shares his key tips and drills to help

The Connection is probably the hardest part of the stroke cycle to describe and the trickiest part of rowing technique to learn because it needs really good feel, and boat awareness. Except that when you talk to the best rowers, the ones who already have great technique, they all say it’s simple, and more straightforward than we think. The first 10 degrees of the stroke is the critical part because if you get that part right, the rest normally develops well; whereas a poor connection will severely brake the hull and make the stroke feel heavy. It is worth getting it right, but what do the top rowers do better than the others? How do they picture it and what does it feel like to them? Let’s try to understand what’s going on.

There are some obvious differences between the catch and the finish. At the catch the handle is in view, but the spoon is out of sight towards the bows; your legs are tucked up beneath you, and balance is sensitive, so hand-heights matter a lot, as do body position and the final movements on the slide. Compare that to the finish, where your legs are flat and your mass is stable. You can see everything: legs, spoon, and each other, and critically, there is time there too. Within reason you can sit as long as you want in the finish position and watch your puddle disappear past the stern, but the same is not true at the catch. It is not somewhere you can stop because, of course, it is in the middle of a sequence of movements.

So, the best rowers understand three key elements – how to arrive, how to enter, and how to connect up. When you can feel how these three parts combine then the beginning starts to feel easier to master, even at a high rate.

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