Saturday: Video and stroke analysis

I decide to make this a separate post so I can find it a bit easier later.

I did a sequence of 8 – 1 minute pieces with a minute or longer rests between.  I was rowing at full pressure in each of them.

Video was recorded by gopro camera mounted on a rigger bow stay that was bolted to the tube at the port end of my rigger.  It was about 6 feet from the side of the boat.

The HR, rate, time, pace and distance data, along with the little indicator map are driven by TCX data exported from the RIM website.  It is merged into the video using software called Dashware (which is now free and the most amazing way to waste huge amounts of time).  As far as I can tell the rate data is accurate to what I see on my speedcoach.  The pace looks like it is a bit faster than it was on the speedcoach.  I only wish I was that fast.

If you look at the video, just look at that water!  It was the most beautiful rowing conditions!

18 spm

Well, I aimed for 18 spm, but I got 19.  I was really pretty happy with how this looked.  Nice flat plateau during the boat run and recovery.  Need to get rid of the hook in thee drive.


20 SPM


22 SPM

Now I’m starting to see a bit of a hump at the end of the recovery.  That means that I am rushing into the catch a bit now.  The bump in the drive is less, but that is more due to stroke to stroke variation averaging out than an improvement.


24 Spm

You can’t tell from the graphs, but this was the rate that felt the most natural and fluid.  The bump late in recovery is getting a bit bigger, though.

The water is so glassy smooth you can see the shoreline perfectly reflected.


26 spm

This is right after my turn and doing the top quarter drill.  I’m rested and full of beans!

Notice now that the acceleration down the slide is actually causing the boat speed to increase during the recovery.  I have to work on not doing that.


28 SPM

Now the rate is getting high enough that my form, such as it is, is starting to fall apart.


30 SPM

I’m embarrassed to even post this one and the next one.  So much rushing to the catch.  Such awful drive mechanics.  So much work to do.


32 spm

The best thing I can say about this piece is that it started under a bridge, which is fun to look at.  It is clear that I need to do a lot of work on the basic mechanics of my stroke, because anything good that was happening at the lower rates has largely disappeared.


And just because I like abuse.  Here is my rendition of king of the mountain, and the top quarter drill.  It ain’t pretty, but I stayed dry!

So, what do I get from all of this?  I compared this to some of the rows that I captured in RIM last season and there are some reasons to be happy.  Last season, I was showing that ugly hump in the acceleration curve going into the catch, even at low rates.  The metrics also showed a long catch duration and lower peak accleration.  Comparing video, I think I look a bit better, but that is more than likely just self delusion.

What’s the prescription to get better.  I welcome all ideas, here are mine:

  • Keep doing the top quarter drill.  I feel much more confident at the catch this season and that’s part of the reason why
  • Keep doing SBR and feet out to work on getting my finishes better
  • I thought I was not laying back very much, but in fact I am and I don’t think it is helping things.  I need to finish with a more erect posture
  • I need a lot more practice at high rates.  I think I will put a few 1′ reps or maybe even 30 second reps at the end of steady state sessions to try to get to the point where I can hold 36 spm reasonably cleanly.

10 thoughts on “Saturday: Video and stroke analysis

  1. sanderroosendaal says:

    Just quickly looked at your 30spm video before going to bed. It looks a bit short slided.

    The bump in the recovery is going to be there at higher stroke rates for everyone. It’s inevitable. The trick is to not let it stop the boat too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • gregsmith01748 says:

      By short slided, I assume you mean that I am not fully compressing at the catch? Is that right? I’ll have to review it again. I think the key t hing that I see at higher rates is that I don’t get my hands away fast enough, so I am sort of pausing at the finish for a split second. Then the rest of the stroke is a bit more rushed.

      I think if I can reduce my layback, and increase my handspeed away from the finish, I’ll be able to control the recovery into the catch position more effectively.

      More things to try!


      • sanderroosendaal says:

        Yes, not fully compressed at the catch. Not sure I agree that you have to work on the speed of hands away. Clean tap-down should do it. Let me review the other videos … Now that I am waiting to board the plane.


  2. stelph82 says:

    Curious as to why you think the increase in boat acceleration into the catch is a bad thing? Especially at higher rates? More boat acceleration through the stroke means a higher top speed is reached, so you could argue the best stroke is one where you accelerate the boat towards you with the stretcher (as remember the boat is the lighter of the two of you so is moving around you not you moving inside of it), and in acceleration the boat, you get as much acceleration through the stroke as possible. It’s worth noting this is how drew ginn talked about how he found his “perfect stroke”

    Taking this technique however puts even more emphasis on having a quick catch however, as pulling on the stretcher and then hanging at the catch means a lot of check and deceleration

    Liked by 2 people

    • sanderroosendaal says:

      I am not entirely in line with the analysis on the site and want to take a closer look at it using my model. Still, accelerating the boat during the recovery is inevitable at higher stroke rates.

      Liked by 1 person

    • gregsmith01748 says:

      I think I need to do some experimentation at higher stroke rates. I agree that there will be some acceleration, but I was guessing that what was going on here was a bit excessive. One direct question for you, though. Previously you commented on a view from the stern video that I may be opening back too early. I was curious if you see that from the side view? When I look, I see too much layback, but I am not sure that I am opening too early?


      • stelph82 says:

        Looking at the video (especially at 30) I would say it does look like you are opening your back “fractionally” too early, to me it looks like you are taking the catch and then driving the legs and beginning to open the back at the same time when personally I feel/find it is better to use the legs first to get the initial connection and drive and then the back starts to come in, also looking from the side and the Path of your hands at the catch it looks like you are raising the hands to the catch, beginning the stroke and continuing to raise the hands as you drive back which might also be making the back opening more pronounced than it actually is

        Although its not perfect, this guys video is from the same angle as yours and he looks to me to be a lot more horizontal with the drive and also the back comes in later, its all legs first

        The of course theres Zac purchase who’s stroke is probably the ideal to aim for!

        Liked by 1 person

      • gregsmith01748 says:

        That Zak purchase video is a real classic. I appreciate the feedback. Now I need to prioritize the flaws and figure how to best fix them.

        I think your first comment about hunched posture is the first thing to fix. When I tense up my shoulders, I am essentially taking the catch by starting to open my back. If I can keep my shoulders low and allow my arms to more freely hinge at the shoulder, I should be able to reduce the depth at the catch, drive more horizontally, and delay opening my back.

        The top quarter drill should help with shoulder position, relaxing the arms and catch depth. I wish I had a coach or training partner to holler at me while I rowed. I thought no that would help a lot.


  3. sanderroosendaal says:

    Watched a few more videos. I would say the main things to work on are
    1. Clean tap down.
    2. Drive horizontally after the catch. Your hands go ‘over a barrel ‘ and your blades go too deep.
    These things become very apparent at higher stroke rates. It may look like your back is opening too early in a back view video. It doesn’t hurt to try to avoid early back opening, although it is not the root cause. Try to go horizontal in the drive and avoid the ‘cringe ‘ where your blades go too deep, your hands too high and you’re doing a lot of work with zero effect on boat acceleration.
    The catches should almost feel light in my opinion.
    Sorry if it is difficult to understand. Not a native speaker.

    Liked by 1 person

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