> I have a bit of a query and was wondering if anyone had any views
> they'd like to share...
> I've always used ergs with the drag factor set at 120 - lwt club women
> - as this is supposed to be the right drag setting to relate to how it
> feels in the boat (I can't source the actual document at the moment,
> but I'm pretty sure this was in some of the information that came from
> one of the ARA coaches conferences a few years ago - I shall keep
> Anyway, my query is regarding being told to now erg with a drag
> setting of about 88. Obviously this is a lot lighter, and intuitively
> means that the rower has to pick up the flywheel more quickly at the
> front end of the stroke in order to maintain the same wattage/split
> etc. My thoughts on this are that it encourages people to stamp on the
> footplate harder which is a problem when they return to the water if
> they don't get the connection properly at the catch or load the blade
> up properly.
> Does anyone have any other thoughts on this?
We control the amount of force being put on the handle and
subsequently the quality of how it is being put on the footplates,
which also has a lot to do with how the recovery is performed. The
drag should be adjusted so that the drive time reflects some sort of
reasonable equivalent to what it will be in a boat so that the muscles
are being conditioned to be used at the desired velocity. Short
version: Slow boats higher DF, Fast Boats lower DF.
Just as there is a fairly narrow range of boat speeds (m/s) from LW1x
to M8+ the desirable DF's also have a fairly narrow range. The reason
the Ergo has a large range has solely to do with machine maintenance,
100-140 is all that is needed, but as the machine clogs with dust the
damper positions for that range will change. (Yes, the High DF's can
be used for strength training purposes, but that's more a contrived
use than a design goal.)
Using extremely low DF's can likewise be used as a tool for getting an
athlete to become more agile and quick around the catch.
Your observation regarding there being a problem if the catch timing
and connection is not good when returning to a boat is right on, but
the exercise is designed to aid in fixing that problem, not cause it.
"Stamping" on the catch is no bad thing if the blade is in the water,
but it's horrible if the blade is still in the air, causing a lot of
missed length and burdening team mates with the acceleration of the
Remember also that Drive length influences the time on drive, so
contrary to intuition, even though a smaller athlete is not usually
going to be pulling as fast a pace, they may need an increase in DF to
keep their time on drive equal when rowing in time with a larger
athlete. As an example of this see the figure here:
If the larger and smaller athlete work independently at the same
distance per stroke (DPS), the DF must be adjusted to align their
ratios (which would be aligned naturally in a boat, hopefully).
Meaning the smaller athlete rows at a higher DF by about 1 point per
cm of drive length difference. Conversely, if they row on the Ergo's
together, it is more complicated and often in the opposite direction,
assuming that the smaller rower is also not going to be as fast as the
larger rower in displayed pace. While they will not be covering the
same DPS while rowing together on the Erg, that's not really a problem
once they get in the boat as that will take care of itself.
Fixing the DPS will enforce the ratio across all paces on the Erg as
long as the athlete maintains drive length, exactly what ratio a
particular coach decides on is up to them but at least there is a way
to keep it consistent across the athletes that will be rowing together
through simple means. If an athlete can be attuned to a desirable
ratio, they can take that to the boat and even though they do not Erg
at the same pace the action/reaction habits that were established will
remain in place as the boat is moved along at the same speed for
everyone in it.
Conclusion: Unless everyone on the team is the same build and
strength, the DF will need to be adjusted to normalize drive time if
doing a piece with fixed SR's for everyone, or they can specify a
fixed DPS also with a DF adjustment so that all the athletes train
independently at the same ratio (albeit at paces determined by their
individual fitness). Finally, it's important that all the athletes
are using the Ergo to practice the stroke that they want to use in a
boat, rather than one that gets them a better Ergo score, because the
habits established will be taken to the boat, and those that say
things like "I only do that on the Erg", probably lie about other
things as well.
- Paul Smith