Basics / Sport-scientific Scripts
Dominant Abilities / Coordination / Strength / Speed / Endurance / Technique / What happens to the body when it gets in motion / Conditioning for Rowing / Anaerobic Threshold / Heart-rate Training -zones / Phases of Adaptation / Supercompensation / Annual Programming / Variety / Training for Young Athletes / Advice for young rowers
The following is an outline of the practical steps of progression an athlete should take while learning technique.
Acquire a general concept and image of the movement and its purpose. In this stage, the athlete should try to do the motion freely without focusing on details. It is essential to understand the whole motion in order to later understand and learn details of each phase of the technique. After showing and explaining the entire motion, coaches should let athletes imitate using the whole picture to develop a spatial image of the entire movement. For example, in teaching athletes a correct stroke you would start with showing them the correctly executed motion and a brief and precise explanation of entire movement. Then the athlete would try to imitate the whole movement in a secure environment.
After the athlete acquires a general feel and image of the motion, it is time to break it into smaller phases and details to develop correct technique. An explanation and demonstration of details should be supported with slow motion pictures of the movement. In this phase athletes learn to execute correct technique with no restraint of time, speed or other dynamics of the exercise such as strength or acceleration. Teaching elements of the motion may include only one element of the technique or may be similar but easier than the actual element or motion. For example, going back to the rowing stroke, exercises here could include learning maximal drive acceleration with the simultaneous extraction of the oars and release into a position were the hands are over the knees. The next exercise could be followed by a creeping forward on the slide until reaching the catch with the preparing of a new stroke. Examples of exercises similar but easier than the actual elements of the technique could include doing summersaults in a tuck position to get a better feel and image for rotation of the body. After mastering details and elements in the final phase of this stage athletes put together the entire motion with focus on correct execution of all details and phases. The motion then becomes automatic.
Modeling for performance
After learning the movement in slow motion the next step is to execute it in the required time, rhythm, and other sport specific dynamics (e.g. strength, acceleration, etc.). To enter this stage of learning technique, the motion has to become fully automatic. Exercises used here should be close to or above speed, rhythm, acceleration etc. required for performance. In this phase the athlete develops individual style. Exercises should allow for the learning of different variants of the technique or individual elements. This will not only help to develop individual style but also will help to find the most effective version of the technique for the individual athlete. For example, in cyclic sports like swimming, cycling, rowing or cross country skiing, velocity is influenced by many factors such as force, length of distance covered in each cycle, frequency of each cycle, etc. This complexity allows athletes with different predispositions and body builds to be successful by emphasizing different aspects of the motion. Smaller athletes with less power can often produce a high velocity bringing up the frequency of individual motions. A good example of this is the “Kiwi” women 2 x, at the 1992 Olympic games, who, despite their small size and lower level of strength (originally they were a lightweight team), have been successful against bigger and more powerful teams by maintaining higher stroke-rates and usage of new oars (big blades), including the necessary changes in technique.
Full automatization. In this stage performing technical movements becomes an act which does not, for the most part, require conscious control. You sometimes hear coaches talking to athletes saying " don’t think, just do it". This is possible when technical ability levels reach full automatization, allowing the athlete to concentrate on tactics, artistic expression, etc.
Why not copy the technique of a champion?
The details of a champion's technique, which amount to his or her "style", are only effective for that particular athlete. Anybody who wants to be highly successful has to develop his or her own unique interpretation of technique details to be successful. Every exceptional athlete should posses his or her own individual way of executing technique. Many times moving away from the widely accepted model of correct technique brings more effective individual technique. Winning in sports is based on the effectiveness of technique not whether it is "good" or "correct". In some cases, athletes in search of a new style not only change details but reconstructed the whole technique.
It is a great mistake to force young and developing athletes to form defined or detailed habits. While teaching technique to beginners and young athletes coaches should focus on fundamentals and bio - mechanical principles of the movement, leaving room for the athlete to experiment with the details. Athletes or parents should search for good coaches or study the biomechanics of the sport themselves to avoid creating roadblocks to effective technique formation.
Sport is Life, 1999
How does a “good” Rowing-Technique look like?