Catch Timing

Skip to first unread message

Bob Martin

Jul 2, 2021, 5:35:01 PMJul 2
I'm looking for some advice as well as comments on
my analysis of a recent row in a quad. I was stroking
and the boat felt really heavy at the catch. I mentioned
it at a break and bow observed that one of the less experienced
scullers was driving with her legs before the sculls were fully

Since the boat is always slowing down at the instant of the
catch and if she was pushing without the blades buried,
it seems to me that the rest of the boat was dealing with
the boat mass, their own mass plus her mass and her effort
to accelerate her mass to the bow without the blades buried.

Is this a reasonable explanation for the heaviness of the boat?
Are there any suggestions for drills to train one not to "shoot
the slide"? One drill that I think might work is the reverse pick drill
where you could work on making the catch while still on the recovery.

From the standpoint of the boat, this seems like a useful indicator
of how the crew is making their catches and provides "instant feedback".
I'd appreciate some comments on that last thought.



Dr. Valery Kleshnev

Jul 3, 2021, 5:26:44 PMJul 3

Andy McKenzie

Jul 5, 2021, 11:18:46 AMJul 5
If I'm stroking a boat with novices and the catch feels heavy my first thought is that I'm beating the other rowers in. Given how novices like to rush this is actually quite rare - so I have to allow that it might mean that by fortuitous coincidence we are actually taking the catch together, and I'm so used to be being the last one into the water that it just feels heavy!

It sounds as if your 'shoot the slide' rower might be feeling rushed around the catch - so drills that work on slide control might be beneficial. Single strokes from hands away, ultra slow rates (e.g. 10 strokes a minute), fast hands away to allow the slide to be controlled etc. might help.


Bob Martin

Jul 5, 2021, 12:41:26 PMJul 5
Thanks Andy,

There were three relatively experienced rowers in the quad. Bow won in her single in New Zealand when they held World Masters a few years ago. She is also the one who spotted the least experienced rower engaging in the drive before her blade was buried (after I whined about the heavy catch).

I have found that when everyone catches together it usually makes the boat seem lighter as opposed to you saying your late catch makes it feel heavy to you. This is why I was hoping for some support for the idea that the person who initiates the drive before the blade is locked in forces the rest of the boat to move
their mass plus the push of their legs on the footstretcher. It is like that drill in an eight where pairs of rowers add in. The boat may be speeding up but the "dead weight"
mass of the boat also decreases as the pairs add in and the catch gets progressively lighter. Now add in those setting the boat pretending to drive at the catch

, Since I'm looking for on water solutions, thanks for the drills. The ultra slow rates will give rowers time to think
about how they are making the catch and make adjustments.

I'm also wondering if the feeling of heaviness at the catch might be a sensitive indicator of catch timing that could be easily identified and worked on while on the water.
I'd appreciate any comments on this.

P.S. As always I may be full of hot air but my ego can stand any necessary adjustments to my views so don't hold back.

Bob Martin

Jul 5, 2021, 12:43:24 PMJul 5
Thanks for the links. My highest complement - I used color toner in printing them out!

James HS

Jul 5, 2021, 5:29:56 PMJul 5
I think there are several things;

You have an observation from one member that another member was not submerging her blades before driving.
You feel it is heavy.

They might be linked, but there can be a tendency to blame others, so look to solve as a crew.

Some athletes find it strange - but there are disagreements about blade depth. There are some that believe that the blade magically floats at the right height, and others that it should be 1" (at least) under the surface. I like Kleshnev's observations, and on a sculling blade put a white tape 400mm above the shoulder of the spoon on the shaft - that, when wet, is the correct spoon depth, in a boat that is properly set up for the weight of athlete. It is easy to see for me as a coach, and for the athlete (yes, every now and then look at your blade!

As for the rest, there are so many things - is it the same on both sides (hand crossover) is the rigging facilitating hand heights, should a seat pad be used, how strong is the athlete (some cannot take the load of a properly placed blade because of shoulder/back weakness).

Is it timing - lots of timing drills, roll ups, a look at the whole crew - working together, from the outside.


Bob Martin

Jul 7, 2021, 10:01:43 AMJul 7
Thanks to all the people who responded. We went out in a double this AM to work on the problem. First of all you could see the slide and butt move before the load
was taken by the oars. We worked on the suggested drills including taking the catch with the shoulders. The catch drills helped a lot. Interestingly, the thing
that seemed to help the most was listening to the sound of the slide at the catch. This was while I was setting the boat. You could hear the wheels rolling
quickly until the load engaged, Making that sound go away seemed to be the most effective for the rower although the earlier drills and explanations set the stage.
Another case of feedback to improve ones rowing!

James HS

Jul 8, 2021, 2:41:38 AMJul 8
Great result!

Often a weak core can result in bum shove - and a weak shoulder blade to breaking the arms.

Always worth core work :)


Jul 8, 2021, 6:24:26 PMJul 8
A point which seems to be missed, particularly for newer rowers, but as
a result of the constant emphasis on leg-drive as the only way to move a
boat, is that unless the hands & arms are well-loaded there is no stroke.

Because that key point is so often missed, no wonder that new rowers
think you take the catch with the slide.

The inconvenient reality is that you take more of the length of your
stroke with your arms than with eight the legs (slides) or the back (swing).

Rowing began as a fixed-seat activity, involving arms & back with
relatively static legs providing the necessary reaction force. Sliding
seats provided a longer stroke arc, better suited to lightweight, longer
& faster shells since greater speed of action was needed to enable the
rower to sustain load on the blade & hence to do enough work in the time
available. But still the entire force generated must be transmitted to
the handle of the oar by 3 fingers of each hand, not by your rapidly
moving rump.

So catches matter & must of necessity begin with those 6 fingers being
loaded and moving bow-ward. Driving the legs is hardly likely to be the
best way to make that easy, early, fast & light initial water engagement
& loading-up.

Cheers -

Carl Douglas Racing Shells -
Fine Small-Boats/AeRoWing Low-drag Riggers/Advanced Accessories
Write: Harris Boatyard, Laleham Reach, Chertsey KT16 8RP, UK
Email: Tel: +44(0)1932-570946 Fax: -563682
URLs: & now on Facebook @ CarlDouglasRacingShells

This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.

Reply all
Reply to author
0 new messages