What is a Frontloaded Catch?

What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by Charles Carrol » Sat, 23 Mar 2013 03:07:05


Dear all,

In the October 2011 Rowing Biomechanics Newsletter Dr. Kleshnev writes:
An optimal force curve must be frontloaded, full and not have any humps
(RBN 2006/06, 2008/02).

When I think about it, it occurs to me that I actually do not know what
frontloaded means.

Is Dr. Kleshnev merely advising us to get as much power as we can as quickly
as we can?

Or is he advising us to get as long as we possibly can at the catch, even at
the expense of the finish?

Or does he mean something else?

Frontloaded catches are a very familiar term in rowing circles these days.
Can anyone provide a definition?

Cordially,

Charles

 
 
 

What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by stewie.. » Sat, 23 Mar 2013 03:44:05

Quote:

> Dear all,

> In the October 2011 ?Rowing Biomechanics Newsletter? Dr. Kleshnev writes:

> ?An optimal force curve must be ?frontloaded?, full and not have any humps

> (RBN 2006/06, 2008/02).?

> When I think about it, it occurs to me that I actually do not know what

> ?frontloaded? means.

> Is Dr. Kleshnev merely advising us to get as much power as we can as quickly

> as we can?

> Or is he advising us to get as long as we possibly can at the catch, even at

> the expense of the finish?

> Or does he mean something else?

> Frontloaded catches are a very familiar term in rowing circles these days.

> Can anyone provide a definition?

> Cordially,

> Charles

Some coaches seem to have this idea that the blade should be placed in the water with zero force being applied to it, the catch taken softly and then the handles accelerated through to the finish, with maximum force at around half-slide.

This is balls, as Carl will shortly be along to explain in more detail than I can - in short, work = force x distance (over a stroke, integral of force dx), and if you move through a significant part of your distance while applying little or no force then you are wasting a pretty large part of your stroke.

Frontloading your catch is the opposite - applying a lot of pressure as soon as the catch is made and connected properly. It requires good catch timing to be effective but it does make for a good, powerful and stylish stroke when done right. "Stand on it at the catch" is how I would call it in the boat.

Stewie

 
 
 

What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by Carl » Sat, 23 Mar 2013 07:13:09


Quote:

>> Dear all,

>> In the October 2011 ?Rowing Biomechanics Newsletter? Dr. Kleshnev writes:

>> ?An optimal force curve must be ?frontloaded?, full and not have any humps

>> (RBN 2006/06, 2008/02).?

>> When I think about it, it occurs to me that I actually do not know what

>> ?frontloaded? means.

>> Is Dr. Kleshnev merely advising us to get as much power as we can as quickly

>> as we can?

>> Or is he advising us to get as long as we possibly can at the catch, even at

>> the expense of the finish?

>> Or does he mean something else?

>> Frontloaded catches are a very familiar term in rowing circles these days.

>> Can anyone provide a definition?

>> Cordially,

>> Charles

> Some coaches seem to have this idea that the blade should be placed in the water with zero force being applied to it, the catch taken softly and then the handles accelerated through to the finish, with maximum force at around half-slide.

> This is balls, as Carl will shortly be along to explain in more detail than I can - in short, work = force x distance (over a stroke, integral of force dx), and if you move through a significant part of your distance while applying little or no force then you are wasting a pretty large part of your stroke.

> Frontloading your catch is the opposite - applying a lot of pressure as soon as the catch is made and connected properly. It requires good catch timing to be effective but it does make for a good, powerful and stylish stroke when done right. "Stand on it at the catch" is how I would call it in the boat.

> Stewie

I'd go along with nearly all of that, Stewie ;)

I might suggest that it is ill-advised to "stand on it" until you've
already got the blade loaded, since that would check the boat worse than
necessary.

Cheers -
CArl

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What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by Charles Carrol » Sat, 30 Mar 2013 02:25:56

Stewie and Carl,

So frontloading simply means that in the initial phases of the drive you
produce as much force as you can as quickly as you can.

This clears up a lot for me.

In the October 2011 Rowing Biomechanics Newsletter Valery Kleshnev concludes
that An optimal force curve must be frontloaded, full and not have any
humps.

In other words, in the initial phases of the drive produce as much force as
you can as quickly as you can and dont let this force drop. Sustain it all
the way through to the end of the drive.  It is pedal to the metal from
beginning to end!

Isnt this pure Kernschlag as defined in the GDR i.e. a solid stroke with
a hard beginning?

Schubschlag, on the other hand, is defined by the GDR as a thrust-stoke,
which uses a slower, more efficient application of force in the initial
phases of the drive and then builds builds builds force all the way to the
end?

By the way, doesnt this elaborate on what was discussed in another thread
namely, that the more efficient is not always the more effective?

According the November 2012 RBN faster crews have a deeper negative peak
in the beginning of the drive and produce a deeper drive hump. Doesnt
this suggest that while faster crews increase force faster, they also
increase it less efficiently? See Fig. 2

http://www.biorow.com/RBN_en_2012_files/2012RowBiomNews11.pdf

By the way, Carl, it seems to me that you make the crucial point namely
that it is ill-advised to "stand on it" until you've already got the blade
loaded. Establishing, as you once described, an essential tensile
connection between the mass of water behind the backs of the blades and the
backs of the blades themselves is crucial.

Anyway, thanks again,

Charles

 
 
 

What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by gsle.. » Sun, 31 Mar 2013 03:34:34

Quote:

> According the November 2012 RBN faster crews have a deeper negative peak
> in the beginning of the drive and produce a deeper drive hump. Doesnt
> this suggest that while faster crews increase force faster, they also
> increase it less efficiently? See Fig. 2

Although the peak is deeper the change in speed is the integral of the acceleration.  So even if the peak is deeper, it may slow the boat less if it is shorter
 
 
 

What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by Carl » Sun, 31 Mar 2013 21:11:28


Quote:

>> According the November 2012 RBN faster crews have a deeper negative peak
>> in the beginning of the drive and produce a deeper drive hump. Doesn t
>> this suggest that while faster crews increase force faster, they also
>> increase it less efficiently? See Fig. 2

> Although the peak is deeper the change in speed is the integral of the acceleration.  So even if the peak is deeper, it may slow the boat less if it is shorter

[I'm writing now only because, yet again, our phone has had a line fault
for the last 2 1/2 days and whoever is trying to resolve it has now
interrupted our broadband as well.  All part of what we've come to
expect of the UK's fraying infrastructure, whose purveyors keep telling
us is ever-improving, & for which it is therefore worth our paying even
more heavily.  I'll send this when the broadband comes back to life & I
can get on with the real work for which I really need that 'service'.]

I think it'd be better (but more confusing to those less mathematically
minded) to say that the issue is not by how much the boat is slowed at
any time, but how much distance travelled per stroke is then lost.  That
depends on the 2nd integral of acceleration wrt time, not the 1st.

However, the general point made still stands: a shorter, deeper check is
not necessarily worse than a longer, shallower check - if nothing else
suffers as a consequence.

That raises the question: how adverse are the consequences of the bounce
&/or pitch which may result from that deeper check?

Well, what a bounce or a pitch of the boat does first is to suddenly
shift quantities of water surrounding the boat in many directions - up &
down, aside, to & fro.  That absorbs energy, of which you are the only
source, and that absorbed energy is largely or pretty much entirely
irrecoverable.

And it is unlikely that there are no additional losses, since Murphy's
Law of Fluid Dynamics tells us that messing up steady flows by adding
untoward transients normally carries a price & rarely give you a reward.

So one might suppose that a finely honed athlete might show a fair bit
of short-term check, but a truly consummate artist might show a lesser
&/or shorter check &, all other things being equal in a perfect world
(?), would go even faster.

Ahhh!  Got me lines back again.  Gotta go -
Carl

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What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by Carl » Sun, 31 Mar 2013 22:39:53


Quote:
> Stewie and Carl,

< big snip to make small point>

Quote:

> By the way, Carl, it seems to me that you make the crucial point namely
> that it is ill-advised to "stand on it" until you've already got the blade
> loaded. Establishing, as you once described, an essential tensile
> connection between the mass of water behind the backs of the blades and the
> backs of the blades themselves is crucial.

I like to keep it simple:
"Get the blade in fast & get it loaded early, but start that process at
the fingers end of the system, not at the feet"

Do that and you need know nothing of the fluid dynamics but will get a
brilliant catch upon which to build a powerful stroke.

It is, initially, all about putting that blade to work in the shortest
possible time.  Get the entry & your muscular coordination right & the
blade will be working usefully within milliseconds of it's lower edge
first breaking through the water's surface.  Get it wrong & the blade is
*** around in the water while moving, unloaded & useless, towards
the finish.  Waiting like that to do something, or for something to
happen, gets you nowhere.

But you have to take your catch intelligently.  None of the muscles
remote from the handle can do anything except stopping the boat until
you already have useful load on the blade and the corresponding degree
of flexure in the shaft.  Only then can they be let loose on what they
do best.

This doesn't mean holding back what you do.  It requires that you don't
omit to do the first bit first - hook that blade in & get loading it, &
do that with the bits closer to the handle, the force being provided
through the inertial reaction between the largely inert rest of your
body & the early-acting lighter parts which get the show on the road.

Some may seek to exaggerate this analysis by taking it to absurdity, but
that would be to deliberately misunderstand what I'm saying.  In all, we
are talking about a few tens of milliseconds at the start of 800
milliseconds of the power stroke.  There isn't a lot of movement in that
time, but the bits that do move would best be those which least check
the boat & which swiftest load the blade.

Cheers -
Carl

--
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What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by ct » Wed, 03 Apr 2013 21:10:41

"According the November 2012 RBN faster crews have a deeper negative peak
in the beginning of the drive"

Be interesting to know how this feels in the boat. Does a deep but quick negative peek, produce more "check"? From my own limited experience i'd wager the small but long negative will feel smoother, whilst the deep but quick negative peek will hold more of a contrast (regardless of the resulting boat speed).

Are the better crews loaded earlier? or loaded at the same time but doing more with it? I've always noticed a focus on "light and build" seems to result in much more "rowing it in", or a "place and hesitate".

Should we focus on producing less check? or more? or is it just a red herring i.e. it's a result of getting loaded earlier (/on time) and what we do once we're loaded, and that should be the focus, otherwise we'll probably reduce check in other boat speed defeating ways.

Quote:

> Stewie and Carl,

> So frontloading simply means that in the initial phases of the drive you

> produce as much force as you can as quickly as you can.

> This clears up a lot for me.

> In the October 2011 Rowing Biomechanics Newsletter Valery Kleshnev concludes

> that An optimal force curve must be frontloaded, full and not have any

> humps.

> In other words, in the initial phases of the drive produce as much force as

> you can as quickly as you can and dont let this force drop. Sustain it all

> the way through to the end of the drive.  It is pedal to the metal from

> beginning to end!

> Isnt this pure Kernschlag as defined in the GDR i.e. a solid stroke with

> a hard beginning?

> Schubschlag, on the other hand, is defined by the GDR as a thrust-stoke,

> which uses a slower, more efficient application of force in the initial

> phases of the drive and then builds builds builds force all the way to the

> end?

> By the way, doesnt this elaborate on what was discussed in another thread

> namely, that the more efficient is not always the more effective?

> According the November 2012 RBN faster crews have a deeper negative peak

> in the beginning of the drive and produce a deeper drive hump. Doesnt

> this suggest that while faster crews increase force faster, they also

> increase it less efficiently? See Fig. 2

> http://www.biorow.com/RBN_en_2012_files/2012RowBiomNews11.pdf

> By the way, Carl, it seems to me that you make the crucial point namely

> that it is ill-advised to "stand on it" until you've already got the blade

> loaded. Establishing, as you once described, an essential tensile

> connection between the mass of water behind the backs of the blades and the

> backs of the blades themselves is crucial.

> Anyway, thanks again,

> Charles

 
 
 

What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by John Greenl » Thu, 04 Apr 2013 07:00:06

Quote:

>hook that blade in & get loading it, & do that with the bits closer to the handle, the force being provided through the inertial reaction between the largely inert rest of your body & the early-acting lighter parts which get the show on the road.

As usual, an absolutely clear description, thanks Carl!  I've been trying to figure out how to do that for quite a while now, and would appreciate comments.  I don't seem to be able to get my fingers and hands to contribute much useful motion once the handle is rolled up into position.  Going up the chain, I don't want to bend my elbows, so that brings me to shoulders.  This seems to work, I think.  There's not much mass in the arms (at least, not mine) compared with all the rest of the body, so the inertial factor is still good.

It really seems to help me a lot to get an adequate angle at the catch so that the initial motion of the handles is more inward, toward each other, and less toward the bow.  It makes sense, just geometrically then, that a catch angle of at least 60 degrees is needed.  With that catch angle I think I can get that motion- mostly inward- just after the blades hit the water, by the feel of pulling my hands inward, toward each other, with motion of the shoulder joints.  When I do that quickly enough, it seems to load the oars nicely so that as my legs start their push there is already a good connection to the water.  When I get that right I immediately see my speed go up, with what feels like the same effort.  So the feel I'm trying for of the handle motion at the catch is almost in two parts making nearly a right angle shape- first as quick an upward motion as possible, to immerse the blade, and then as instantly as possible that inward motion to load the blade. That seems to help my timing of the leg drive too, because I can feel the upward handle motion clearly before the leg drive starts.  As a musician, I feel it as a grace note just before the beat.

Does this seem like a good way to think about and feel it, or am I going down the wrong path?

thanks,

John G

 
 
 

What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by davies... » Thu, 04 Apr 2013 16:57:30

Quote:

> It really seems to help me a lot to get an adequate angle at the catch so that the initial motion of the handles is more inward, toward each other, and less toward the bow.  It makes sense, just geometrically then, that a catch angle of at least 60 degrees is needed.  With that catch angle I think I can get that motion- mostly inward- just after the blades hit the water, by the feel of pulling my hands inward, toward each other, with motion of the shoulder joints.  When I do that quickly enough, it seems to load the oars nicely so that as my legs start their push there is already a good connection to the water.  When I get that right I immediately see my speed go up, with what feels like the same effort.  So the feel I'm trying for of the handle motion at the catch is almost in two parts making nearly a right angle shape- first as quick an upward motion as possible, to immerse the blade, and then as instantly as possible that inward motion to load the blade. That seems to help my timing of the leg drive too, because I can feel the upward handle motion clearly before the leg drive starts.  As a musician, I feel it as a grace note just before the beat.

> Does this seem like a good way to think about and feel it, or am I going down the wrong path?

> thanks,

> John G

Well, I'm not Carl but IMHO this is definitely the right path. An old sculler (very good in his prime) told me to "take the catch with your pecs" because it will do exactly as you describe, namely close the handles together first. This helps lock the blades in, generating lift, etc, before applying force in the direction of the bow.

I believe a consequent benefit is that, because you don't need to brace yourself with the feet against the stretcher as much when doing this, it can help reduce check, ie the result of the feet pushing before the blade is locked in.

As with everything catch-related, timing is crucial, and it can be overdone too.
Smoothly does it.

Kit

 
 
 

What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by Carl » Fri, 05 Apr 2013 05:18:56


Quote:

>> It really seems to help me a lot to get an adequate angle at the catch so that the initial motion of the handles is more inward, toward each other, and less toward the bow.  It makes sense, just geometrically then, that a catch angle of at least 60 degrees is needed.  With that catch angle I think I can get that motion- mostly inward- just after the blades hit the water, by the feel of pulling my hands inward, toward each other, with motion of the shoulder joints.  When I do that quickly enough, it seems to load the oars nicely so that as my legs start their push there is already a good connection to the water.  When I get that right I immediately see my speed go up, with what feels like the same effort.  So the feel I'm trying for of the handle motion at the catch is almost in two parts making nearly a right angle shape- first as quick an upward motion as possible, to immerse the blade, and then as instantly as possible that inward motion to load the blade. That seems to help my

 timing of the leg drive too, because I can feel the upward handle motion clearly before the leg drive starts.  As a musician, I feel it as a grace note just before the beat.

Quote:

>> Does this seem like a good way to think about and feel it, or am I going down the wrong path?

>> thanks,

>> John G

> Well, I'm not Carl but IMHO this is definitely the right path. An old sculler (very good in his prime) told me to "take the catch with your pecs" because it will do exactly as you describe, namely close the handles together first. This helps lock the blades in, generating lift, etc, before applying force in the direction of the bow.

> I believe a consequent benefit is that, because you don't need to brace yourself with the feet against the stretcher as much when doing this, it can help reduce check, ie the result of the feet pushing before the blade is locked in.

> As with everything catch-related, timing is crucial, and it can be overdone too.
> Smoothly does it.

> Kit

John's on the nail with his comments on using the pectorals for the
sculling catch.  It's a conversation we've had here on RSR in the
not-too-distant past.

When you consider catch angles, the hands are moving at ~60 degrees to
the axis of the boat, so although you can simply load the arms in
tension, that's only going to connect a part of the force you could
deliver.  If you also draw the hands towards each other, then you can
make a real difference to the speed & rate of loading.

And there, you add, is the beauty of it - you can do it initially
without pressure on the feet, not even activating the legs or back.
That's not to say you can't connect a simple draw without touching the
stretcher either, by working the light bits near the handles against the
heavier bits near & above the seat, because it is self-evident that, for
a short period, you can - but that would be less than the full potential.

I see nothing wrong with an early break of the elbows to achieve a
faster, slicker catch.  The initial loads start from zero, obviously, &
take time & distance to build up to serious pressure, so why would it
matter if the arm were to bend, or the fingers to hook into the palms a
bit, or the shoulders to flex to the bow.  As load builds & pressure
then mounts on the feet, it may be that a slight arm bend gets somewhat
straightened, but that isn't going to strain or overload you - it's how
the springiness of the body works in a truly athletic performance.
Besides, your arms are not necessarily at their most effective when dead
straight - sure, you might say the muscles are not loaded, but I bet
even that's not correct as I doubt the joints stay together without
loading the related musculature (any experts here?).  And your finger
grip depends on constant muscular input, your full applied load going
through maybe 3 fingers of each hand.  Funny how those fingers still
cope when the legs reach the point of absolute fatigue.

And, John, I do like your idea of the grace note!  It's often like an
anticipation of the note & the beat, adding to the effect of the note it
precedes.  Not sure how meaningful it might be as a coaching concept,
except that every student needs a slightly different explanation of what
they should strive to do.

I do think it worth considering that the process occurring between catch
& full load is no simple switch from fingers to feet but the
transmission of a fast-acting pulse passing right through the body from
end to end.  OK, too abstruse a thought process for daily use from the
launch or bike, but worth thinking about in quiet moments?

Cheers -
Carl

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What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by Carl » Sun, 07 Apr 2013 05:03:37


Quote:
> "According the November 2012 RBN faster crews have a deeper negative peak
> in the beginning of the drive"

> Be interesting to know how this feels in the boat. Does a deep but quick negative peek, produce more "check"? From my own limited experience i'd wager the small but long negative will feel smoother, whilst the deep but quick negative peek will hold more of a contrast (regardless of the resulting boat speed).

> Are the better crews loaded earlier? or loaded at the same time but doing more with it? I've always noticed a focus on "light and build" seems to result in much more "rowing it in", or a "place and hesitate".

> Should we focus on producing less check? or more? or is it just a red herring i.e. it's a result of getting loaded earlier (/on time) and what we do once we're loaded, and that should be the focus, otherwise we'll probably reduce check in other boat speed defeating ways.

I'd suggest that you'll do better to focus on getting a swift load
application than a ***e.  Until you have that I wouldn't think too
much about check.

No effective catch can be hard from the outset, since before there can
be much pressure the blade must already have entered & the hands already
be moving towards the bow.  You can't hit something hard which offers no
resistance, but you can build that resistance faster by moving the oar
handle faster.  Loading also requires that you bend the shaft (load is
proportional to amount of that bend), & that takes additional movement
of the hands.  Since the water is moving relative to the boat, there's
already a minimum hand speed below which you will never even get to load
the oar handle.  So any delay or sloth in load application will waste
the early part of the stroke with no conceivable benefit

The catch will feel harder, sooner, if you move the hands faster.  And
there's nothing touchy-feely about a crisp catch, it is pure speed.  So
many are coached to hit the catch hard, but aiming for this is most
likely to result in too much muscle, too little hand speed & a bigger
check.  Describing a catch is as hard as describing a beautiful picture,
but you know a good one when it happens.  It isn't of itself hard, but
it swiftly becomes hard; the action changes from a sense of speed to one
of speed with force, but it must start with speed, not with force.

Now to boat check:
This is not caused by the hands (unless you're so slow that you
backwater) but by the load hitting the stretcher before, &/or
disproportionately harder, than it hits the handle.  If you decide to
take your catch with your feet, the boat will check severely because
you're kicking it backwards before there's any or much load on the blade.

A check of any kind is undesirable but, AFAIK, the absence of check is
beyond most or all rowers.  There is no such thing as a "good check".
You should aim to catch fast & in a way that most minimises the check,
but never try to tailor your catch to achieve a particular kind or
quality of check.

That's enough for now, I think ;)
Carl

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What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by John Greenl » Mon, 15 Apr 2013 02:51:17

Thanks, Kit and Carl, for your comments!  I've been working more on this since you encouraged me.  I've also been experimenting with Carl's suggestion to engage a bit of elbow bend as well as the pecs and shoulders at the catch:

Quote:

> I see nothing wrong with an early break of the elbows to achieve a  
> faster, slicker catch.  The initial loads start from zero, obviously, &
> take time & distance to build up to serious pressure, so why would it  
> matter if the arm were to bend, or the fingers to hook into the palms a  
> bit, or the shoulders to flex to the bow.  As load builds & pressure  
> then mounts on the feet, it may be that a slight arm bend gets somewhat  
> straightened, but that isn't going to strain or overload you - it's how
> the springiness of the body works in a truly athletic performance.
> Besides, your arms are not necessarily at their most effective when dead
> straight - sure, you might say the muscles are not loaded, but I bet
> even that's not correct as I doubt the joints stay together without  
> loading the related musculature (any experts here?).  

It feels to me that especially as the rating goes up,  just a little bit of elbow bend does help me with the quickness of that initial inward oar-loading movement.  The possible pitfall in doing this, at least for me at my present level of skill, is that feeling the load there can distract me from the leg drive and cause me to engage arms and upper body motion too soon, but that's a matter of attentive practice to get right.   I think I can feel what you mean generally about the springiness of the body-  adding this seems to help integrate all the motions into a smooth whole, and ultimately will make the whole motion feel simpler, not more complicated.  

It seems to me that you're certainly right in saying that the arm and shoulder muscles are loaded in any case-  Even Xeno Muller, who talks so much about "hanging off the skeleton", when you look at videos of his sculling you can clearly see that he tenses all those muscles at the catch (and I think he does use just a bit of elbow bend too). I do find my arms tiring more doing this, and I suppose that's the difference between merely tensing muscles- exerting a force- and actually moving the joints, which is force through distance: work.

thanks!!

--John G

 
 
 

What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by James H » Thu, 18 Apr 2013 00:58:38

Quote:

> Thanks, Kit and Carl, for your comments!  I've been working more on this since you encouraged me.  I've also been experimenting with Carl's suggestion to engage a bit of elbow bend as well as the pecs and shoulders at the catch:


> > I see nothing wrong with an early break of the elbows to achieve a  

> > faster, slicker catch.  The initial loads start from zero, obviously, &

> > take time & distance to build up to serious pressure, so why would it  

> > matter if the arm were to bend, or the fingers to hook into the palms a  

> > bit, or the shoulders to flex to the bow.  As load builds & pressure  

> > then mounts on the feet, it may be that a slight arm bend gets somewhat  

> > straightened, but that isn't going to strain or overload you - it's how

> > the springiness of the body works in a truly athletic performance.

> > Besides, your arms are not necessarily at their most effective when dead

> > straight - sure, you might say the muscles are not loaded, but I bet

> > even that's not correct as I doubt the joints stay together without  

> > loading the related musculature (any experts here?).  

> It feels to me that especially as the rating goes up,  just a little bit of elbow bend does help me with the quickness of that initial inward oar-loading movement.  The possible pitfall in doing this, at least for me at my present level of skill, is that feeling the load there can distract me from the leg drive and cause me to engage arms and upper body motion too soon, but that's a matter of attentive practice to get right.   I think I can feel what you mean generally about the springiness of the body-  adding this seems to help integrate all the motions into a smooth whole, and ultimately will make the whole motion feel simpler, not more complicated.  

> It seems to me that you're certainly right in saying that the arm and shoulder muscles are loaded in any case-  Even Xeno Muller, who talks so much about "hanging off the skeleton", when you look at videos of his sculling you can clearly see that he tenses all those muscles at the catch (and I think he does use just a bit of elbow bend too). I do find my arms tiring more doing this, and I suppose that's the difference between merely tensing muscles- exerting a force- and actually moving the joints, which is force through distance: work.

> thanks!!

> --John G

Personally I don't think it is about bending the elbows.

When I have been coached and done what I am told I slot the blades in the water in an rapid and efficient manner, which means raising the hands/arms. My physio has told me that this changes the way that my shoulder works and that it is stabalised (if they are 10 mm lower then it is not.

I then engage the core and - I guess the pecs, though I do it by bringing my hands together - by bringing my arms together in their locked out position. I find that this is sufficient to 'grip' the water and ideally has not involved any leg drive. leg drive then pushes on engaged blades that bend the shafts - the rest is well described elsewhere!

By contrast, when I get it wrong (oh yes - 90% of the time) I row the blades in by opening the back, go shallow, soft belly  and am half way through my leg drive before the cappuccino froth generates anything like enough 'grip'.

I know when I have it right because it almost feels too hard to push against!

To make it work I like to visualise that slot toaster made of cement that I neatly lever against :)

I prefer to hear "Load" at the catch rather than have a frontloaded catch.

James

 
 
 

What is a Frontloaded Catch?

Post by Carl » Thu, 18 Apr 2013 06:02:22


Quote:

>> Thanks, Kit and Carl, for your comments!  I've been working more on this since you encouraged me.  I've also been experimenting with Carl's suggestion to engage a bit of elbow bend as well as the pecs and shoulders at the catch:


>>> I see nothing wrong with an early break of the elbows to achieve a

>>> faster, slicker catch.  The initial loads start from zero, obviously, &

>>> take time & distance to build up to serious pressure, so why would it

>>> matter if the arm were to bend, or the fingers to hook into the palms a

>>> bit, or the shoulders to flex to the bow.  As load builds & pressure

>>> then mounts on the feet, it may be that a slight arm bend gets somewhat

>>> straightened, but that isn't going to strain or overload you - it's how

>>> the springiness of the body works in a truly athletic performance.

>>> Besides, your arms are not necessarily at their most effective when dead

>>> straight - sure, you might say the muscles are not loaded, but I bet

>>> even that's not correct as I doubt the joints stay together without

>>> loading the related musculature (any experts here?).

>> It feels to me that especially as the rating goes up,  just a little bit of elbow bend does help me with the quickness of that initial inward oar-loading movement.  The possible pitfall in doing this, at least for me at my present level of skill, is that feeling the load there can distract me from the leg drive and cause me to engage arms and upper body motion too soon, but that's a matter of attentive practice to get right.   I think I can feel what you mean generally about the springiness of the body-  adding this seems to help integrate all the motions into a smooth whole, and ultimately will make the whole motion feel simpler, not more complicated.

>> It seems to me that you're certainly right in saying that the arm and shoulder muscles are loaded in any case-  Even Xeno Muller, who talks so much about "hanging off the skeleton", when you look at videos of his sculling you can clearly see that he tenses all those muscles at the catch (and I think he does use just a bit of elbow bend too). I do find my arms tiring more doing this, and I suppose that's the difference between merely tensing muscles- exerting a force- and actually moving the joints, which is force through distance: work.

>> thanks!!

>> --John G

> Personally I don't think it is about bending the elbows.

> When I have been coached and done what I am told I slot the blades in the water in an rapid and efficient manner, which means raising the hands/arms. My physio has told me that this changes the way that my shoulder works and that it is stabalised (if they are 10 mm lower then it is not.

> I then engage the core and - I guess the pecs, though I do it by bringing my hands together - by bringing my arms together in their locked out position. I find that this is sufficient to 'grip' the water and ideally has not involved any leg drive. leg drive then pushes on engaged blades that bend the shafts - the rest is well described elsewhere!

> By contrast, when I get it wrong (oh yes - 90% of the time) I row the blades in by opening the back, go shallow, soft belly  and am half way through my leg drive before the cappuccino froth generates anything like enough 'grip'.

> I know when I have it right because it almost feels too hard to push against!

> To make it work I like to visualise that slot toaster made of cement that I neatly lever against :)

> I prefer to hear "Load" at the catch rather than have a frontloaded catch.

> James

James - I don't see how you can load the catch without having bent the
shafts since there is no load without bend & no bend without load.

There is no magic process of engaging the blades.  Either they're buried
& loaded, or they're buried & not loaded.  The latter simply delays the
catch & thus shortens the stroke since the blade keeps rotating around
the pin whether loaded or not.  So if you "slot the blades into the
water", what is that achieving?  There's no magical communion betwixt
blade & water & no subtle signal telling you you've somehow locked in.
Water is only useful to you for propulsion when your blades are loaded &
the sooner the better.

Now to this cappuchino froth?  That has nothing, I'd suggest, to do with
the order of engagement of different lumps of you.  If your blade is
covered it'll row clean.  If not, then it'll scoop water & generate
froth.  And it really won't have the foggiest, or care, about which
muscles you've chosen to use or when.

What I'm trying to do here is to strip away the touchy-feely stuff I now
hear ever more of since we explained blade fluid dynamics to an eager
public many years ago on RSR.  Folk wanting to show mastery of what they
don't terribly well understand start promoting the idea that somehow we
communicate with the water by giving it some mystical say in what we do.
  We can't & it doesn't.  Put simply, water is a dense fluid which
provides a very solid resistance to load if the blade is buried & loaded
& less resistance if it is in only shallowly & not carrying much load.
That's all a rower needs to know - load fast & cover it deep enough to
prevent air getting sucked down into the low-pressure zone which forms
behind the blade.

A blade works near the catch by generating 'lift' but we don't need to
do anything to make that happen since lift is the automatic & balancing
reaction to applied load.  If the blade is immersed but not loaded it
still incurs drag (which slows the boat) but it does no useful work.
The longer it takes you to bend that shaft, the longer it takes to do
useful work but the drag remains unchanged.

Cheers -
Carl

--
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