You and I have a problem. We both need boat speed.
I’ve been searching for boat speed for over 40 years. How long has your journey been?
During my years of looking I’ve learned that finding speed is a demanding and exacting task. Never easy. And without a plan, the chances of finding speed is nil.
There are core elements of a boat speed plan. Critical pieces which need to be in place. Without each piece, maximum speed just won’t happen. But when the elements are aligned, pursued in specific order, the chances of speed greatly increase. There are six specific core elements.
Boat Speed Plan
Famed basketball coach John Wooden used a pyramid to win 10 national championshps. The Egyptians built pyramids for momuments that would last. And the plan to find boat speed can be envisioned as a pyramid also.
Following is a simple speed pyramid. Six critical elements building a foundation for success. I’ve created this pyramid based on years of coaching experience, numerous interviews, work with some of the best rowing coaches in the business.
Before the details, three things to keep in mind.
- You want a tall pyramid (because the taller it is the more speed you’ll find). So, as geometry tells us, the taller the pyramid, the wider the base.
- The foundation of the pyramid determnies how long it will last. Without a strong foundation all the hard work may be for naught. The Egyptians knew this, and built pyramids on bases of solid rock.
- Pyramids take time to build—lots of time. Some Egyptian pyramids took over 25 years to build, or more. Hopefully, your’s won’t take as long, but expect to invest time in construction. [If you want to be world-class fast you can expect to invest upwards of 10,000 hours.]
The Speed Pyramid
The pyramid has 6 core elements. A few thoughts on each.
Element 1: Leadership
The base is built upon leadership. A good leader will have 3 things: knowledge of the activity; a strong and clear vision; honesty.
Element 2: Athletes
Athletes generate the speed. In rowing, athletes need physical ability; mental prowess (desire, persistence, patience, etc.); and the willingness to be coached.
Element 3: Training
The training of the athlete, both mental and physical, brings out the talent of the rower, allowing speed to be pursued safely. Training must be appropriate for age and skill level; specific (training for the event at hand); and safe.
Element 4: Technique
The rower’s technique allows the rower’s effort to move the boat. Better technique is more effective, and speed loves effective technique. Technique should be appropriate, specific, and repeatable.
Element 5: Equipment
Speed requires decent equipment. Not the best, or the flashiest, or the most expensive. Just decent. And the equipment must be appropriate for the age and skill level of the rowers; safe; effective.
Element 6: Rigging
Atop the pyramid sits rigging, the adjustment of the equipment for the athletes. With rigging, the numbers must be appropriate for age and ability; equipment tested to determine the best numbers for you/your athletes; adjustments made properly.
How Long Until You Get Fast?
In a perfect rowing world a simple graph of your speed over a season might look like this:
Yet, our rowing worlds are anything BUT perfect, with illnesses, injuries, economy, weather, and a wealth of other things effecting us. A more realistic speed graph for an individual rower might actually look like this:
That graph is just for one rower trying to get fast. Add a partner or team and suddenly the variations become much more pronounced:
The path to speed can often be full of bumps and take longer than we think it should.
Is this plan right for you? Well, rowers and coaches do many different things and still get fast. For instance, one coach crushes his team. Another pampers her’s. Yet, both are extremely competitive. Looking close, both coaches use the critical elements of boat speed. They just craft those elements differently.
How best to proceed for you? That’s the art of coaching rowing. Here are a few resources which may help you with your plan, and finding the speed you need: