One of the key changes which takes place as a beginner becomes an experienced rower is that the focus of their attention moves away from the spoon and into the boat. Many beginners have an almost compulsive tendency to watch the spoon in the water. This may start as a visual check on blade depth but if uncorrected it too often develops into a counter-productive and hard-to-break habit. Experienced rowers only look at their blades when poised at the start of a race or when asked to do so by a coach. For the rest of the time they feel the position of the blade in the water without the need to look at it. This brings several advantages:
- Less head movement – keeping the body weight central in the boat
- More ability to focus on co-ordinating with stroke
- More ability to focus on stroke shape and body movement
- Better awareness of boat movement and balance
The shift of focus from the spoon to the boat is a very important one. With it comes an improved awareness of the entirety of the rowing stroke rather than a restricted focus on the ‘power’ phase in the water. It also widens the individual rowers perception – ‘the stroke’ is not just something he or she does – it is something the boat does together. Seated in a boat with ‘head up and eyes front’ a rower has a wide enough field of vision to see all he or she needs to row as part of a crew without turning his or her head.