Bare with me on this one, it could be bit up down side ways at times, I may even make a few errors.

Thought it time to mention the error rates and types of errors we make in the boat. The reality is we make plenty of mistakes and although we have been able to perform at the highest level consistently, we still make error and quiet often they are frequent.

What I will lay bare here are the basic mistakes Duncan and I make. Firstly because it is important that we keep things in perspective and no-one is perfect even when they aim to be so. So this is part self assessment and part critique from our coach and others.

To make sense of this process, which by the way is one we have done regularly. We are tough on ourselves and the time we spend pulling apart what we do is and has always been significant. Also because of our performances we come under scrutiny by many others and these perspectives are essential in giving us perspective.

Our errors are simple and we are conscious of them. For me it is the occasional washing out and handle path that I would prefer to be able to hold through flatter. This relates to my depth of blade about a foot into the drive and to be honest I find a real challenge. All this is most likely connected to my dropping of hands 3/4 forward in the recover. If I tend to feel weight going on to the bow side I often adjust by giving myself room by dropping my hands slightly. This keeps room under my blade and allows me to hook up and in at the catch but obviously leads to going quiet deep early in the drive. So then the catch 22 is that once at this depth the only way to time the back turn is to draw down slightly to the release point. The error rate that this occurs is 1 to 2 in 10 at it's worst. When I am moving well it is more like 1 in 30.

Can it be changed and does it need to be? Certainly change is possible, but some times I do find it difficult to see the benefits when some times the changes feel like they have no positive impact on boat speed.

This is all about my errors or fault to begin with and they are not just self assessed one's. At the beginning of our camp Chris identified the error with my handle path. At the time it spark a memory of an old coach I had back in school. In fact he was the head coach of the school program at Scotch College. His name was Paul McGann and I recall one day him asking me if my mum or dad was at the regatta on the river bank during the race. I responded by saying, "No, why?" He then proceeded to ask me who the heck I was waving at during the race then. I was confused and with that he came again with another remark, "cause it looked like you were wave at someone all the way down the track, waving with your blade." He pulled no punches and well the result was that it has stuck in my mind ever since. So when Chris commented on handle path I made the connection straight back to my school rowing days and the consequence of dropping my hands back then was waving the blade around before the catch. Now I know things have moved on a lot since then but the pattern of movement still exists to a degree. This time like before there was no one on the bank that I was waving too so I figure I better stop it or at least work on reducing the amount and number of times I would let it slip.

We all make errors and so I must point out that the impact of mine on the boat to me is clear, but what also occurs is the impact a partner can have on the movement. What just so happens to be an almost perfect match to my error is Duncan's early rise up which can be related to a few things but what is interesting is how when and where I have an error it has an equal error created, cause and influenced by his error which is to rise early potentially attempting to find the water or forcing the platform over on to bow side.

What comes first? Well I am sure we both play our parts in the combined error and when we have been in the boat together for an extend period when find ways to match up while still having our idiosyncrasy's play out. He rises early and I drop my hands, it simple and clearly visible when things aren't on song.

The impact of our two errors is seen or felt around the release and for me it is a slight washing out of the blade and for Duncan it is in the lack of room around the back turn which creates a twisting, wobbling movement after release. When it is bad it can be quiet noticeable but fortunately boat speed does not seem to be all that impacted by it. Hence were our dilemma occurs, do we spend time trying to fix something the only feels slightly uncomfortable or do we pull it apart to find ways to improve the movement?

On this camp we choose to pull it apart and work on aspect of the movement to create change. This obviously produced greater error and the rate at which we made the errors was increased. What we do now have a greater understanding though is why this all occurs. It is simple but challenging to improve because we have inherent patterns to our movements. Many of the patterns compliment, but some fight against each other.

The reason for laying all this out is because the reality is we are not perfect, but we aim to be. We are not settle and yet come Beijing we require a sense of being settled and comfortable which gives confidence. We certainly aren't complacent because since the Worlds we have turned over many rocks to understand how we can improve. This maybe is a restless mind, or it could well be that fact that we know deep down that we can improve significantly, or that we are conditioned to not be satisfied. What is it that drives us forward to question and challenge ourselves. Why are the various errors, mistakes, faults and poorly executed movements a topic of discussion.

This is for us as it is for anyone reading this blog. To articulate and share is powerful. We are interested in progress of not only our performance but also our event and this great sport we are involved in. Maybe, just maybe this is an error. A random thought that has some how found it's way to text. Not every stroke we row is purposeful and deliberate, but I guess that is what we aim for. Just like not every post here is or has purpose or is needed, but I have tried to show a full picture of the experience.

To complete this process we are influenced by our coach Chris, who by the way has errors also. The one we all agreed to while sitting in a cafe was, 'less tip toeing around us'. What this means is he need to be direct about things he feel matter. Particularly around how he communicates with Duncan and I. He even mentioned a situation while in Italy preparing for the World that he held back saying what he needed to because he didn't what to upset either of us. We expressed the need we have for him to be direct with us, no beating around the bush as they would say.

Finally it is interesting that when your in our position few people will give us honest feedback. There are obviously reason why, but the fact is we are like anyone else and although feedback can be daunting it is critical for development. So this errors post is self assessment, feedback and altogether health I think. And trust me I am sure we make plenty more errors or mistakes. In fact........


Anonymous said…
xovxHi Drew

I was watching your semi from Eton in 2006 on youtube recently, and watched you handle difficult rough tailwater better than your opponents, where every crew made errors and recovered form them. I felt that the reason your boat speed was better was the connection immediately after the catch was so quick and direct, and the clean flow over the rough stuff was a pleasure to see.

Nice to seee that you are striving for better!

Sam Golding
Team Darfur said…
Hi Drew,

I came across your website and thought I would drop you a line about a nonprofit I am the co-founder of called Team Darfur- a nonprofit to raise money and awareness for Darfur using Olympic athletes. Don't worry though, I'm not asking for money from you.

Team Darfur is an international coalition of Olympic and professional athletes (over 165 strong) committed to raising awareness for and brining an end to the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan. Olympian speed skater Joey Cheek and myself (I played div 1 water polo at UCLA up until last year) founded Team Darfur with this in mind.

I am hoping you'd be interested in taking a look at our campaign and potentially signing our charter at, as an elite athlete yourself. Take a look at the website and the "charter" page when you have a chance and hopefully you'll be moved to sign our charter and become a member of Team Darfur.

If you choose to sign, we will ship you a welcome package with our Team Darfur gear and some other great swag. Please feel free to ask me any questions and thank you for your time.

Best of Luck,

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