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Poise

While working on pause drills in the 1x this morning, I thought back to the ballet performance that scrottie and I attended about a week ago. Ballet dancers have such incredible poise and motor control, which is inspiring to observe.

While ballet dancing differs from rowing inasmuch as ballet movements are dynamic and changing, the two activities do share a requirement for good poise and balance. Pause drills are one way of checking for poise. As I approached the half-slide pause position, I would check myself: "Am I sitting up tall? Are my shoulders relaxed? Is the boat balanced? Am I ready to square the blades and drop them in the water at the catch?"

These are easier to do at the beginning of rowing practice than by the end, when one is naturally more fatigued.

In the second half, I worked on trying to retain that sense of poise and finesse while also working on bringing up the pressure and stroke rate. Interestingly, early in the history of the sport, women were encouraged to compete with respect to style, not speed. The real challenge, however, lies in trying to retain a sense of length, relaxation, and efficiency - style - even as the pace increases to race pace. Think of it as being like the difference between walking speed and running speed. You cannot become a better runner by walking all of the time. But on the other hand, working on your stride at a lower pace may help you maintain a better stride at a faster pace, too. As I brought up the stroke rating, I noticed that my right arm got more tense and tried to grab the water, which would cause my oar to go too deep in the middle of the drive and then too shallow by the time the oars reached the release. Something to keep working on.

The water was perfect this morning, glassy smooth, with that Bay Area fog sky. A brown pelican watched me row past the waterski dock. Just myself and one other 1x rower out early today.

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