Pick Drill: sit at the finish. Begin with arms only, by 6’s or 8’s, square blades and pace called for by coach or coxswain. Progress through each of the parts of the stroke: Arms Only, Body Over, 1⁄2 Slide, full Slide. Coxswain may add feather when they wants, but usually not until after full slide. This drill is the first part of the warm-up and helps to get the rowers in tune with one another for the practice. It helps to refresh the rowers on how important each part of the stroke is, and how to get each of the 8 rowers in perfect sync.
Pause Drills: On the coxswain’s command, begin the drill. A two second pause is added at each critical phase of the stroke: finish, arms away, body over, ½ slide and full slide. At least 10 strokes should be done with the pause at each phase. Focus should be placed on proper form at each phase during the pause.
Cut the Cake: Make the transition from full slide, continuous rowing, to the drill on the coxswain’s command. After the finish, the rower stops at body over position. Then, you swing back toward the finish. At this point, you should not have moved your legs, only your arms and back have moved. The split second your upper body is fully extended, bring yourself back to the finish for a second time. Your blade is out of the water at this time (feathered or square, depending on how the coxswain wants it); so in a sense you are taking an air stroke. Once you reach the finish (for the second time), push your hands away and go all the way up the slide as you would a normal stroke then catch, and drive. Repeat until coxswain stops drill or switches you out. This drill is good to develop a sense of swing in the boat and to get the crew to really sense movement together. When done by all eight, it adds to a sense of set in the boat. A relaxed recovery should be emphasized here, as the rowers will want to go up the slide at the same speed they were before being called into the drill. However, because the drill takes more time before the rower actually moves up the slide, the boat slows down and therefore the rower must slow down the recovery slide to compensate for the slower shell movements.
Outside Hand Only: On the coxswain’s command, begin the drill. Remove the inside hand (the hand closest to the oarlock) and row only with the outside hand. Place the inside hand behind the back, as though someone had you in an arm lock. This helps to get the inside shoulder down, ideal for the rowing position. It can also be done with inside arm pointing straight out from the body and following the oar blade, ideal for opening the shoulders and rotating around the pin. This drill obviously must be done with square blades, and can be done in pairs up to all eight. Consistent blade height is emphasized, as well as a clean catch with good back splash. A level pull through is ideal, and is what the drill is truly trying to accomplish. You do not want the oar to dive down into the water so that any of the shaft gets buried, but you also do not want the oar to wash-out (the handle finishes in the lap instead of below the breast). Work to make sure the oar handle gets squeezed into the body, right below the breast, then tap it down with the outside hand to get a clean finish. There should not be a big wave as the oar comes out of the water. This drill can be done from paddle to 1⁄2 pressure.
Square Blade: On the coxswain’s command, switch to square blade rowing. The goal is to have a quick, clean catch and clean extraction at the finish. The oar should be level and off the water on the recovery.
Inside Hand Only: On the coxswain’s command, begin the drill. Remove the outside hand from the oar and place it behind the back. The inside hand is provides oar control. The drill should be started on the square looking for clean blade work without splashing. After at least 10 strokes, switch to the feather. All feathering is done with the inside hand on the stroke. This drill forces the rower to focus on all aspects of clean blade work.
Wide Grip: On the coxswain’s command, begin the drill. With the inside hand, reach down past the handle of the oar. Most of the strength of the following strokes will be taken from the outside hand, as it is difficult to grip the carbon fiber. The purpose of the drill is to emphasize twist from the waist (also known as length). This is key in increasing overall stroke length as well as overall boat speed (the longer the stroke, the more power you get per stroke). Emphasize reach and twist from the waist, increase the length of the stroke, get long!!!!!
1⁄2 Slide: Make the transition from full slide to half slide on the coxswain’s command. This can be done by 2’s, 4’s, 6’s or 8’s, depending on how many are rowing or if you feel a stable boat is necessary. The rower will go only to half slide, then drop the oar in the smooth back splash and then QUICK legs to accelerate the boat. It is especially useful for emphasizing a quick catch and quick legs to help accelerate the boat as well as helping rowers get use to higher cadence. Use this often to keep the catches quick and rowers in perfect sync. Listen for one catch.
Feet Out of the Stretchers: This drill is begun from a dead stop. Take feet out of the stretchers and place them on top. Begin rowing at full slide. This drill is important in emphasizing a relaxed recovery. The rowers cannot pull themselves up the slide, and must feel the boat move out from underneath allowing it to come up on the recovery. It also helps keep the rower from yanking on the oar at the finish and relying on their foot stretchers to keep the boat from being pulled out. This is ideal in teaching a relaxed recovery.
Eyes Closed: This is an advanced drill and should not be done with novice crews. On the coxswain’s call, all rowers should close their eyes. This drill forces the rower to focus on the feeling and the sound of the boat instead of instead of just what they can see. Use this drill to perfect timing and get all rowers in sync.