A move isn’t some random burst of hard strokes that you take because you don’t know what else to say and you know you need to say or do  something. Those arbitrary power tens you call with little-to-no context? Those aren’t moves. A move is part of “the bigger picture” that gets you from Point A to Point B (also known as your race plan), which means they’ve got to be executed with intention and a bit of forethought.

With my crews, we would usually include two planned moves while keeping in mind that we might do three total, based on how the race evolved in the early part of the piece. The planned moves included a 20-stroke piece around the 1000-meter mark (give or take, depending on how the race was unfolding) and a 10-stroke piece towards the back half of the 3rd 500. We had a third burst in our back pockets for the first thousand if we needed it but we avoided using it unless absolutely necessary (i.e., we had the lead and needed to do something to fend off a charging crew or we were in a position to get even or take the lead and knew we’d have the psychological advantage in the second half if we did it before the 1000-meter mark).

That “unplanned” ten in the first thousand wasn’t  technically unplanned but I knew if I needed to use it, it wasn’t going to catch the crew off guard and create unnecessary chaos. That’s what can/will happen, though, if you start using power tens disguised as “moves” as a fallback for when you’ve got nothing else to say.

An important point to remember when executing a move is that the effort you’re putting into it has to be maintained on that 11th stroke (or whatever stroke follows the last one in the burst). If you have a really effective move but follow it up with a couple of mediocre strokes, whatever advantage you gained is going to be lost  and you’ll end up taxing your rowers even more in the process. Usually I’ll try to make a call or two about this as we near the end of those strokes, usually something simple like “sustain it now ” on the first stroke after the move.

In addition to walking on (or away from) the field, mid-race moves also help keep the crew committed to the larger goal of the piece at vulnerable points during the race. They act as a rallying point in a more motivating way than the rest of the information you’re giving them. This was the basis for that move my boat would take in the 3rd 500; we knew that if the race was competitive we’d need to make a move here to set us up for the sprint but there were times when, based on what I was seeing and sensing, I’d call it for nothing more than pure commitment to the rower in front of you, the team, and yourself. We almost always accomplished the goal of getting even or getting our bow ball in front but this is an example of how  phrasing  it can have a big impact on how effective it is.

This leads to the idea of making each of your moves decisive. Rather than being the one who gets broken, be the one doing the breaking. Once you start moving, regardless of whether you’re walking on a crew or moving away, don’t stop. “Relentless forward progress,” as the saying goes. Racing is a game of inches; every move you make has to have an unwavering amount of intent, focus, and discipline behind it and this starts with you.