Rowers and coaches thirst for mental and physical improvements.
It’s what we do—often chasing those improvements in a scientific and methodical manner.
Yet…so many of us miss taking a few big steps that can make an enormous difference.
And by missing that those steps someone ends up rowing with marginal equipment.
Is Marginal Equipment So Bad?
Marginal equipment is equipment that could be better…needs to be better…but it’s not better.
Often we have to row with marginal equipment. Making the best of what we have at hand.
Making do, if you will.
However, bad things can happen when we make do—such as sub-par rowing, rowers getting frustrated—possibly injured, and the well-crafted plans of coaches never get realized.
What Happens When We Row Better Equipment?
However, better equipment is often the sweet spot—where everything can be better:
- rowing improves
- rowers excel
- coaches exhale
And the person responsible for the rowing equipment, oh yeah…they are happy campers. So happy you may actually see them smile.
Why Rowing In Marginal Equipment Happens
There are reasons why rowers slog along in marginal equipment. For instance, the people responsible for rowing equipment could be:
- strapped for time, or
- short on money, or
- without a plan for improving the rowing equipment.
Or…commonly, all of the above.
Let’s Change That
In this time of uncertainty, angst and when every penny counts, how do you move from marginal to better?
Fire up a simple-four-step plan, that’s how.
Four Steps To Row Better Equipment
I present you with four steps.
Yep, you can certainly jump into any step at any time.
Yet if you start at Step 1 and work your way forward in a methodical manner you’ll get the greatest reward for your time and effort.
In other words…”you’ll have a plan, Stan,” and in turn improve your chances of helping people row better equipment.
Step 1) Clean and Disinfect
There are two focuses here. First, clean what you have.
Cleaning improves the function of the equipment by removing dust, dirt, scum, and grime.
Prime areas to clean are:
- Seat tracks and wheels
- Erg/oar handles
- Boat hull
- Oarlocks and oar collars
Here are a few cleaning suggestions.
A side benefit of cleaning is it gives you an opportunity to assess the equipment (which we’ll discuss in a second).
Second, disinfect—which is not the same as cleaning. Disinfecting reduces the possibility of disease transmission. When disinfecting, you are focusing on the areas that humans touch. Such as:
- Erg/oar handles
- Seat tops
- Foot stretchers (shoes and hardware)
- Track stern stops
- Coxswain controls
Any place a human touches you disinfect. Here’s more info on disinfecting.
Step 2) Inspect and Replace
Now that things are clean and disinfected Step 2 can happen.
Numerous parts in rowing are subject to wear-and-tear. They parts are usually the first parts to break or wear to such a point that they negatively impact the rowing.
I’m talking oarlocks, oar grips, shoes, seat wheels, tracks, rudder cables, straps, slings.
The focus here is to inspect your part and compare it to a new part, evaluating its condition.
Let’s use an oar lock for example. The horizontal and vertical sills of an oarlock are under constant attack by an oar. Hundreds of times each practice an oar rubs on those surfaces—slowly grinding them away.
Grab a new oarlock and compare yours to the new one. Look at and feel the surfaces, smooth and level? Or rough and bumpy?
If worn, replace. It’s amazing what a new set of oarlocks can do.
Here’s another quick example—the seat tracks. High-wear there, right?
And when they’re not constantly cleaned the action of the seat’s wheels upon dirt in the track (from shoes worn into the boat) can significantly cut the functional life of those tracks.
So inspect and compare to new. Smooth and flat? Or rough and bumpy? Again, inspect and replace.
Step 3) Measure and Adjust
After cleaning and disinfecting, and inspecting and replacing, the next step is about measuring and adjusting the equipment so that it comfortably and effectively fits the person using it.
Like adjusting the seat properly when you hop in a car to drive, adjusting the rowing equipment is critical and makes a huge difference.
A simple action plan for this step is to:
- Measure your equipment
- Determine where the adjustments should be for the rower/team using it
- Make the appropriate adjustment
Step 4) Evaluate and Replace
In this final step you are going to determine if the equipment is the RIGHT equipment. A prime candidate for this step would be boat size.
Let’s say you have a men’s lightweight hull designed for an average weight of 160-180 pounds. However, the crew rowing in it are women lightweights with a boat average of 130 pounds. The hull is not right for the crew—being designed for a different average weight.
Sure, you can make do, you might HAVE to make do. But to get the crew to row better equipment you will need to replace the boat.
Another example—take your oars.
Possibly the blade shape you have is best suited for a catch-centric style. Yet your focus is on the release. Your oars are not RIGHT for you. Again, you can make do, you might HAVE to make do.
But to get the crew to row better equipment you will need to replace the oars.
Go Row Better Equipment
You’ll probably have to make do with what you have. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find your way to better equipment.
You can find your way.
Start simple. Move smartly. And have a plan.
That’s how you’ll get people to row better equipment.