Dropping the blades in

30 May 2021


I remember thinking about the feel of what it was like to drop the blade in the water and what it was like to finish the stroke off. When I think about that catch and dropping it into the water, I remember one particular session.

And we used to talk about… well, put the blade in the water earlier in the cycle. Because coaches often say put the blade in quicker, you want to see the blade disappear quicker, you want to see the blade in the water and you don’t want to lose any leg drive. So they say quicker, quicker, quicker.

Quicker wasn’t working for me. So I started to think about earlier.

So actually, once my hands pass over my feet on the recovery, the only thing I’m thinking is to get my hands up and put the blades in the water.

Now what would be the worst thing that could happen? I could put the blades in the water while I’m still coming forward. The reality was that never happened. But in my mind, I started to lift the hands before I was ready to push with the feet. And that helped me to get the blade locked in the water, so it was locked in the water and ready before it was time for my leg drive.

The rugby drop-kick metaphor

Harry used a lot of metaphors. And I remember one particular day looking for this catch feeling. And he’s… and we’ve… I think we’d been watching the All Blacks play rugby. And he got me to think about someone kicking a ball.

So when you think about kicking a ball, you have to hold the ball in your hand and then you release the ball. You have no weight in your hands anymore. And when the ball falls, it’s ready for you to kick it when it gets to your foot. And I thought about exactly the same thing on the catch.

So I come out, my hands come over my feet. And then effectively I take my hands off the blades, or release the blade to let the blade come up. And when I take my hands off, it’s like I’ve dropped the ball, I’ve let it go.

The handle naturally comes up as the spoon naturally goes down. So the blade is going to drop into the water. There’s a delay, just like when you drop a rugby ball. And in that delay, I then prepare and then I push my feet.

And for me, that was the way of taking the catch.

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About the

Greg Searle

British rower Greg Searle was already an Olympic Champion in sweep rowing when he was first coached by Harry Mahon in the single scull.

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