Sweep crew drills

It’s the time of year that people start to pull crews together for head racing season.  Many new sweep crews will be formed for HOCR (Head of the Charles) and other autumn head races. So what can you do to get your crew rowing well together, fast?

Crew Sweep Rowing

It is really hard to get a crew to blend their style and technique quickly. This is one reason why longstanding crews often race faster than “jump in and go” crews.

The best place to start this process is doing drills to get the combination of your movements aligned. Remember, nearly everyone will need to make adaptations – no one individual rows perfectly. Consider a dollop of humility as you approach your practices, especially if you are one of the more experienced in the crew.

As with all rowing drills, it’s important to do each drill up to 3 times per training outing in order to really master the method, to improve how you execute it together and lastly to see the effects of the drill on your rowing. Execute to a high standard is a good motto.

Listen to the podcast from 24 minutes when we discuss the drills recommended for crew sweep rowing. And the timestamps below help with a list of the drills you need for your crew,

Timestamps to the show

03:50 The past week – coaching, rowing, getting colder in Canada
08:30 Subscribe to our Newsletter and get confident rowing and sculling
10:00 National Voice for Masters in NZ – communication meeting about how and what to message
11:30 Row2k published our article Rigging 101 for Masters covering easy adjustments to your boat and the level of difficulty of each. We focus on the cause and effect of rigging changes
Rigging feet heel height to seat top is in the 17 cm range. This hugely affects ability to compress and get power in the first part of the stroke
15:00 My problem is I row a men’s heavyweight single and I weigh 115. I dig a bit deep on the drive. I suspect this is operator error but I really want it to be a rigging problem. Thoughts?
Digging deep while sculling in a big boat. This affects the steepness of the angle of the oars into the water.
Drills to improve digging – rowing circles, half blade buried.
Also avoid corrugating through the water.
19:00 Darkness is coming. I was going to ask a question about navigation lights, but then did my own research and bought these Navisafe lights, and wanted to share the information. Two nautical miles range, Coast Guard approved. I got two: one is set to green/red for the bow and the other to white for the stern
Early thoughts about boat lights for rowing boats – Rebecca uses Rail Blaza lights are 360 white lights which can also go on a pole.
24:00 Sweep crew drills for HOCR and Autumn head races

Combination crew drills

Start with rhythm drills
– pause drills
– release drills
– blade depth drills

Get keyed into the voice commands of your coxswain
– Wide grip drill is very good
– Row in 6s to get accustomed to the movement
– Reverse pick drill for leg drive co-ordination

28:00 Drive pressure drills
– go from half to three quarter pressure building during the stroke. Light, medium, hard thinking that you’re rowing with glass oars for 5 strokes at each pressure.

30:00 Drills to increase stroke rate
– Half slide drills
– 20 strokes acceleration at half slide every 5 minutes during a longer low rate piece
– Rolling or flying starts are good every 3-4 minutes

Other things to practice

– Plan and practice emergency stops and re-starting as you may need to use that in the race.
– Inside hand on the back stay drill
-Getting familiar with Sweep if you’ve mainly sculled – Use your peripheral vision to watch the blade entering the water.

38:00 heart rate variability testing our recovery. It detects instabilities in our physiology. Marlene and Rebecca both use the HRV4Training app.