I had a chance to go out in the launch with the coach yesterday and I have to admit that masters coaching is
a difficult task. Just getting crews to follow the plan is frustrating and there often seems to be
someone in the boat pretending to be deaf! Coach worked with eights doing pause drills like
arms away so that they can come up the slide in unison. I didn't bring up emphasizing the set
with the coach as there was no time. Afterwards, I had a chat about the set with the most experienced cox who
had coxed in college. She was pretty blunt about it. She says she tries to fix the set by observing
the boat and fixing issues. When I tried to plant my pet idea about rowers focusing on the set, she said
that, in the past, bringing up the set resulted in the masters rowers blaming other rowers for the
problems and it caused dissention (understatement).
I don't think a coach can fix the set unless the rowers are focused on it as well. The question now
becomes, how do you get sweep rowers to focus on the set without eating each other alive?
So I'm back to my original mantric thoughts:
1. Each of you owns the set on every stroke.
2. if you are down to port, ports pull in a little higher and starboards a little lower.
3. If you are down on your side at the catch all of you should have the boat set by the time your blade is out of the water.
4. Always start at the catch and wait until the boat is calm and set before starting.
I have observed that with decent rowers in fours, the set often starts out wonky but they soon get it straightened out.
They are obviously adjusting to each other. So what are they doing when they make those adjustments?
I can't believe that, in rowing, we are aiming only for that perfect mechanical movement up and down the slide.
There are to many external variables affecting the boat for that to be the only goal.
In my opinion each stroke is a living thing because the rowers are alive and continuously adjusting to each other and the boat as they row.
I'd further claim that it is the lack of boat awareness in individual rowers and the consequent inability to adjust, that ruins the set.
I'll further claim that almost any group of rowers with those skills, when thrown into a boat ,can figure out how to set the boat before the row is over.
How can masters rowers learn to do this if they aren't focused on it?
Am I on afterburners and headed straight into the ground on this?