Following on from the last post highlighting the rowing chat service, I also wanted to expand on some comments that Alan Campbell made during his rowing chat which was related to rowing biomechanics.
At around 8 mins into the interview, Alan was asked about how he approaches the catch without disturbing the run of the boat, to which Alan talks about how working with Biomechanics has helped him rethink how he deals with check on the boat, in that the size of the check isnt the most important part, more the amount of time that you are checking the boat. To try and explain this Ive included the graph below which I have taken from the Biorow paper on boat acceleration (itself an excellent read)
In this graph you can see the curve produced by an Ilympic Gold medal winning pair (red) and a national champion pair (blue). What’s interesting is that if you look at the catch of both pairs you can see that actually it’s the Olympic pair that has the largest check at the catch, however despite this their curve is spending the least amount of time under 0 on the acceleration axis (ie they are decelerating the boat less than the national pair), so even though they are producing more check as they are decelerating the boat for less time then that means they are able to go faster, this is what Alan was describing in the Rowingchats interview. This means that actually the best way to approach the catch isnt to slow into the catch position (as in order to slow down on the slide, you actually have to press on the footplate, decelerating the boat), instead the focus should be more on slwoing into the catch at the last possible moment, and trying to change directio and drive out of the catch as quickly as possible with the blade buried in the water, this would mean a large check reading, but less time with the boat decelerating.
This aligns well with how Drew Ginn describes his perfect stroke, and also with the biomechanic analysis of how the perfect catch should be taken which is outlined very well by this article written by the creator of the rowing in motion app , so it is interesting to hear another olympic medallist describing the same catch as being the ideal he is striving to get.
Its important to note as well that the biomechanics that Alan is mentioning they use to measure this is now available to everyone with access to a smartphone, thanks to the rowing in motion app that is now available on Android and iOS , so everyone now has accesss to the tools that can help you develop a catch like the Aussie gold medal winning pair!