The approach

Provide solution

You always have the following four intervention options at your disposal:

  1. tell or ask the rower to do it differently, for example “Can you row without touching the water?”;
  2. choose to offer an exercise (on the water) and use the 3-step intervention;
  3. use the 5-step learning process in the Rowing bin or on the Rowing machine;
  4. do a motor intervention and use a sensory clue or a motorial analogy.

Want to learn how to use motor learning in your coaching? Check our Training courses.

Interveniëren Tell or ask

In the least effective option, useful only for a limited number of rowing errors, the rower is told or asked to do things differently. For example, the question "Can you row a stretch without touching the water during the recovery?" can still be performed by many rowers. It's different with the question "Can you row a stretch without kicking through the seat?", which doesn't work very well. The key question here is why that execution is so difficult. 

Every cognitive instruction is entered into the prefrontal cortex (comprehension). However, motor functions are performed by another part in the back of the brain. So the rower will have to make a translation from the understood instruction to how to move and then what to feel, hear and/or see. Such a question or instruction thus makes quite a few demands on the rower: he has to know what movement is meant, he has to be able to translate this 'knowing' into the right movements and he has to be able to execute it. Only a limited number, motorically gifted rowers, are able to deal with this effectively. This means that the majority of rowing errors do not lend themselves to this approach.

3-step intervention

In the second option, the coach chooses to offer an exercise (cure). Exercises that use Motor coaching are more effective than classical exercises. With this option it is wise to have a second exercise on hand, should the first exercise not be enough for the rower. Three steps are used for this.

Step 1 – Explain

Of course, explanation of the exercise is necessary. Think of a stool that stands on three legs: all three legs are important. The three legs of an exercise are the following:

  • the exercise: what exactly should the rower do (what exactly);
  • the motivation, why is this exercise chosen and what makes it important (legitimation);
  • the focus: what should the rower pay attention to when he performs this exercise (Pay attention to...).

Therefore in the explanation of the exercises, the purpose and focus are also given.

Step 2 – Supervise (practice)

When the rower performs the exercise, it is important to monitor and guide the correct execution. This is done with supportive feedback: the rower is helped to perform the exercise properly. It is certainly not the intention elaborate explanations, because the rower needs all his concentration to perform the exercise properly. The feedback is short, powerful and says something about what the rower is doing now. For example: “ Richard, draw your handles higher … ”, or with each stroke feedback on the quality of that stroke: “wrong, wrong, good, almost, good…

Step 3 – Transfer (harvest)

Finally comes the harvesting, or transfer what has been learned into the regular rowing motion. After all, you are not doing the exercise for nothing. This is usually done by rowing a piece with the same focus as used when performing the exercise. A number of exercises have a specific transfer. If so, this is mentioned in the description of the exercises. Also during the transfer, supportive feedback is needed to help the rower put into practice what has been learned.

5-step learning process

Finally, you can opt for 5-step learning on the Rowing machine or in the Rowing bin. Here too, techniques from use Motor coaching are used. Correction of movement errors is basically done in the rowing bin (for water handling) or on the rowing machine. In order to learn the correct movement and unlearn the mistake with the 5-step learning process, it is essential that all five steps are always made:

  1. label – how to name the mistake;
  2. mistake – what is the rower doing wrong;
  3. motivate – why is that important;
  4. good – how to make the good movement;
  5. feedback – how to get feedback on the movement.

The order of these steps is less important. They are explained below.

Step 1 – label (the improvement)

Name the mistake or correction. So not, “You are not rowing well”, but “You are kicking your seat”. Or – better yet – a positively formulated label: “Steady your trunk”.

Step 2 – (experience the) mistake

Let the rower feel and experience the mistake. Let him feel and experience the exaggerate the mistake. In addition, show the mistake in exaggerated form if necessary. If necessary, use movement guidance to make the rower feel the mistake. This is not about explaining the mistake to the rower, but about making the rower aware of the mistake. Recognition of the mistake by the rower is central here.

Step 3 – motivate (the improvement)

Explain why what the rower is doing is not right and what the negative consequences of this mistake are, or why the improvement contributes to boat speed, rowing pleasure or injury prevention. Under the menu rowing mistakes the motivation is given following the heading “Consequence”.

Step 4 – good (rowing)

Make sure the rower is able to make the correct rowing motion. Movement guidance — for example, grasping the handle, pressing the shoulders down, or holding the trunk — is a good way to get the rower to feel the correct movement. Always ask permission in advance to touch the rower and always announce a touch. Always confirm it when the rower makes the right move: “That's how you do it right!” This is an essential part of the learning process. Under the menu rowing mistakes the motivation is given following the heading “Remedy”.

Step 5 – (check the) feedback

Teach the rower how to get feedback on his wrong/right rowing motion. Then you are giving the rower focus. This can be visual (by looking), tactile (by feeling) or auditory (by listening). For example: you can hear that the rowing rhythm is good. You can feel that the sliding is correct. You can look at the blade to see that the finish is right. In this way the rower can control himself, because he knows how to get feedback on his own rowing motion. This feedback can be aimed at recognising the wrong rowing motion as well as recognising the correct rowing motion, whichever is easier. Ask the rower, “How can you see, hear, or feel that you are doing well?”. If the rower has a particular preference (for example, feel instead of seeing it), follow this preference. Provided of course that this is a good way to get the feedback. Under the menu rowing mistakes is indicated how the rower can get feedback following the heading “Focus”.

When directing the rower, the instructor prefers to do so using the labels previously used in the 5-step learning process. For example: “John, remember the correct catch!” or "John, check your finish!". The rower now knows what the mistake is, knows how to do it right and how to get feedback on this mistake. Always give positive feedback when the rower follows your cue: "John, nice!"

Motor intervention

There are two different techniques for a motor intervention, a Sensory cue or a Motor analogy. Check our Training courses for more information about motor coaching.

Sensory cue

In a sensory cue, the rower is helped to use the sensory. For example, instead of "Keep your hands together!", the coach/instructor asks if the rower can touch the palm of the left hand with the knuckles of his right hand during both the pull and the recover. Another example is to ask rowers who start pulling up too early "Can you start pulling up only when you feel your tendons pulling under your knee?"

Motor analogy

A motor analogy involves giving an analogy of a motor movement. For example instead of "Can catch further away?", the rower is asked "Imagine opening two garden doors. Can you open them a little further?"

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