Common exercises

Your coach should tell you exactly want he wants you to do. These might include some of the following exercises. I include these as they require important input from the cox - there are many more but just usually require the cox to tell the crew when to start and stop the exercise.

Square blades:

Explained above. Make sure the 'GO' commands are at the catch (not the finish). Generally might do square blades for 10 strokes, alternating with feathered blades, or you might do a longer stretch. As the balance is more unstable around corners, it helps just to go with feathered blades around the corners, and switch back into square blades in the straights.

Single strokes:

Instead of continuous rowing, the crew inserts a pause at one point of the stroke. Some common points to pause are at the finish, hands away, bodies over, quarter slide, half slide, three quarter slide. Generally after a pause of a couple of seconds, the cox will say 'GO' and the crew takes the next stroke, stopping again at the same point.

Outside hand off:

Here the crew rows with just their inside hand (the one closer to the blade) on the blade handle, the outside hand behind their back. Most often this is done just for 10 strokes, the crew immediately switching to firm pressure for another 10 strokes. This is done as a deprivation exercise. It is vital that all the crew switch to firm pressure the first stroke that they are holding the blade in both hands. For this to happen, you have to give precise coxing calls to the crew.

Bursts of firm pressure:

As the boat needs to accelerate and the rate of strokes per minute needs to increase, it is usual to give the crew 3 or 5 strokes to get the rate up, before the 10 proper strokes of firm pressure. The 3 strokes before are also firm pressure, but really just used to accelerate the boat. This is usually called a '3 plus 10', or '10 strokes firm, winding over 3', or something similar. Again it is vital that the crew knows which stroke is the first of the 3, and which is the first of the 10. Also the end of the 10 is important - you need to give a command like 'okay, wind down to light pressure'. You will always have one member of the crew who counts the strokes, so make sure you do the correct number!

Rating in general:

The rate is the number of stroke per minute - most of our cox-boxes have rate meters so you can tell what the rate is. Generally the rate is determined by how hard the crew is pulling, and the ratio of the crew at that time. The ratio refers to the ratio between the length of time the blades are in and out of the water. As a very approximate guide here are some typical rates by our 1st men's VIII: (novice boats will usually rate lower with proper ratio, but tend to rate the same with insufficient ratio)

Type of rowing Low rate Medium rate High rate
Light pressure 8 17 20
Half pressure 18 22 25
Steady state 24 26-28 30
Firm pressure (continuous) 26 34 40
Racing start (maximum rate) 38 42 48

Steady state is usually about three quarter pressure, and is used for long piece of pressure rowing - ie 10 minutes plus. You will probably be asked by the coach or by stroke to improve the ratio - you have to make a call such as 'DOWN 2 ON THE SLIDE' - ie decrease the rating by 2 pips by going slower up the slide on the recovery (when the blades are out of the water). Another similar call is 'UP 1, DOWN 1' (ie the rating stays the same, but the ratio improves; up 1 in the water, down 1 on the slide), or you can just say 'RATIO', or 'TIME ON THE SLIDE'.