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What's making news for Surf Rowers

The ASRL is committed to guiding the development and promoting the advancement of National surfboat competition at both grassroots and elite levels. In an effort to keep members informed of what's going on in the world of surf rowing, we provide regular news updates. If you have a news article you think worthy of publishing, please submit directly to secretary@asrl.com.au for consideration.

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Click here to download the NewsletterAll Very Well and Good - a complimentary Health and Fitness Newsletter provided courtesy of:

Derek Knox (B.Sc. Sports, AEP, MBA)

Director – Accredited Exercise Physiologist (ESSA)

Absolute Balance Exercise Consultant

You can download the newsletter by clicking HERE or on the newsletter image (pdf reader required)

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Sweeping the Surfboat - Part 2

Let’s start Part 2 with the thought that you must be able to gain the respect from all members in the crew to have any chance of success and most importantly enjoyment:

  • Don’t be that sweep you hear that returns to the beach roaring at their crew. This is very counterproductive and in truth it can often be worked back to a bad decision of the sweep but as he is boss it is easier to make the rowers cop it.
  • Don’t spend your training or race time berating your crew to go faster or apply more power or in general just ripping the crew along. It seldom works and in fact on most occasions it has the opposite effect of unsettling the crew. Your job it to settle the crew into rhythm, keep them calm and teach them to be the better rowers they can, which is what really makes them go faster.

It is always interesting to stand on the beach and watch both the learning and experienced sweep at work. A good tip is to watch someone that is experienced, has good crew respect, keeps his crew safe and has good surf skills. If you’re going to learn from anybody it may as well be from a sweep that knows their stuff.
The very first thing to learn and understand is your stance position in the boat. If you watch a carnival near you, you will see two distinct stance styles.

  • One is the sweep that stands square on to the nose of the boat. Feet are usually together in the same pocket between a quarter bar and he is holding the oar out to the side in one hand
  • The second is the sweep that stands roughly at 45 deg with a leading shoulder facing toward the nose, feet are astride one of the quarter bars and for most times two hands on the oar

We won’t be too judgemental here because like rowing there is no one right way. However as a general rule the sweep standing at 45 deg has a lot more options.

  • By standing at an angle you have your feet spread across the boat and can take a flexed knee position which will let you feel the boat through the legs thus being able to easily counter any rock across the boat
  • Two hands are always better than one. Watch the best sweeps and they have both hands in contact with the handle for the majority of time especially when in the break
  • Try standing square and take note of how much movement you have with the handle in either direction, it won’t be a lot
  • Stand square and note that you can’t bring the strength of your body into the action
  • Now stand at the angle and try the same exercise. You will instantly note that you can now also use your body length as well to push and lay back so your steering spread of movement has been doubled
  • The sweep oar should become part of your body with two hands to keep control and always positioned at a height where you can apply pressure
  • The sweeping movement starts at your feet. Firstly you need to learn to feel what your boat is doing through your feet. A good sweep can tell you without looking a lot of the time what is going on with late catches, unequal pull pressure or poor release from the way the boat reacts through his feet.
  • The other important thing that starts in the feet is your power. A good sweep will always be driving up through the legs. Like skiing, water or snow you flex up through the legs driving the power upwards
  • When getting set to take a wave the first thing to get right is your feet position because it will be through your legs that will ultimately determine your success on the wave. Stand weak and the sweep oar will force you down into a squat. Squat and you lose 80% of all waves. Stand tall against the downward pressure on the handle and you are well placed to continue to be in control
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Sweeping the Surfboat

This is Part 1 of a series of articles on the skill and requirements to become or improve your sweeping skill and knowledge.

Like all things it isn't the only way but it is hopefully a good start in understanding the full package. In following articles different topics will be covered so in total we are going to look at the overview of the role through to general sweeping, crew safety, specific skills, strength, training and competition.

Overview:

  • To be a great or good sweep you will need a well-developed set of skills including knowing how to be mother, philosopher, friend, mentor, salesman, tough guy and skilled sweep
  • On top of that you need to be responsible as the key decision maker for the rowers under your charge. You will ultimately be responsible for all decisions made within the boat including the safe keeping of the crew
  • You will need to be prepared to learn with your crew. Sweeps that think they know it all seldom do and quickly get shown up
  • Good decision making has no place for wild bravado. Confidence by all means is very important but the gung-ho approach has no place in the boat
  • Recruitment is key and you need to be actively involved in developing a plan to keep new rowers coming into the sport. Simply waiting for another club or crew to develop rowers and then poaching does nothing for the sport. Development of rowers must sit very high on every sweeps priority list
  • Understanding the politics within your club is another very important part of being successful. You must encourage all rowers to take a high profile in the clubs eyes to fundraising, working bees and patrols. Ignore any of these and see how quickly you and your crews will become the enemy
  • Attend as many coaching clinics as possible to both assist and learn. The day you think you know it all you are the looser
  • It is no fluke that crews are ever going faster. It is the result of some sweep/coaches better understanding the rowing stroke that have these crews lifting the bar
  • It isn't all about more training sessions. If you are coaching any part of the stroke incorrectly it won't matter how many sessions you do you still won't win.
  • Don't flog your crews on egos etc thinking that is what they need to go faster, understand the strengths and weaknesses of each individual crew and learn to coach accordingly
  • Don't practice bad methods whether it be a training program or stroke style
  • Do spend as much time as you can sitting on other surf craft like the surf ski to understand the run of the ocean. Until you yourself learn to feel the boat run you can never coach it to your crew
  • Make sure you do a good amount of your training work in the ocean. Flat water is where you teach technique but out at sea is where you learn your skills. You must train in the surf to learn the skill required. The day of competition in surf is not the place to be learning the fundamentals
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Spinal mechanics and injury prevention during rowing movementsInappropriate technique in rowing can lead to injury and pain within the low back. Fatigued states of the erector muscles of the spine can be a contributing factor to increases in flexion and extension movements of the lower back, as these muscles help regulate the bending motion of the spine. Studies have found that within these fatigued states, the muscles allow the lower back to move through a large range of motion. During rowing movements, particularly during the drive phase, the spine almost reaches full flexion. It has been shown that this loss of lumbo-­‐pelvic control through flexion movements can result in injury as the same amount of force is produced in the spine when injury occurs while lifting. Furthermore, the stress placed upon the spine rises as flexion increases and approaches end range.

Later research in spine mechanics showed that rather than stopping flexion moments in the spine, the erectors (i.e. Longissimus, iliocostalis and multifidus) are more responsible for reducing anterior shear (or forward sliding) forces, by producing posterior (backward) forces. Not only will fatigue reduce the effectiveness of these muscles, but as flexion increases, the stimulation of stretch receptors within these muscles will cause an inhibitory reflex, further decreasing active control.

It has been shown that repetitive motion of the spine under load leads to soft and hard tissue injury (e.g. disc herniation's, ligamentous sprain and vertebral fracture). It has also been found that a full flexion of the spine has substantially compromised its ability to withstand compressive loads. When we consider these factors in conjunction with our knowledge of the fatigued states of lower spinal muscles, we can see that the potential for injury within the lower back is quite large.

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Interval TrainingInterval training is the use of high intensity exercise interspersed with periods of active or passive recovery or rest.

The use of interval training has become a more prominent form of training because of the increased time to fatigue. But how do you set intervals? Intervals can be prescribed specifically to meet your needs and goals. This can be done by performing a simple fitness test; a set distance, time trial or a set time run (cycle, swim etc.) and using the results to calculate Max Aerobic Speed (MAS).

Max Aerobic Speed coincides with an individual's VO2MAX, which is their maximal amount of oxygen consumption used to create energy molecules. The MAS provides a speed or velocity which elicits the persons VO2MAX.

Current research into interval exercise and training methods says that in order to get the greatest gains from training using this type of training, you should be working at 120% of your MAS, as that is the determined intensity where you exercise at levels above your VO2MAX for the greatest period of time before fatigue.

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