• Coach Knickerbocker

The Three Dimensional Rower


The life of a single sculler.

What do I mean when I say be 3D?

Ask yourself these questions:

What is it that I want from my rowing? What is my end game? What do I want to have accomplished when I am no longer rowing?

Then consciously examine your answers in order to determine your intention.

Most rowers are enjoying learning, rowing with friends, getting fit, engaging with their club, and some are even enjoying competing and maybe even winning. My question is…and then what?


Maybe that's enough for you and if so, that’s fine.

I think one can glean an even deeper satisfaction from this rowing experience by having a clear understanding of what one’s intention is.

What is your intention when you sit down on the erg?

What is your intention when you set foot into a boat?

What is your intention when you line up and commit to that 1K on the racecourse?


Being clear about what your intention is, and what you want to get out of that moment, I believe, is one of the keys to sustaining yourself over time in this sport, and, I think, to becoming a stronger competitor.


Accomplished rowers don’t get that way from just doing the thing. They get that way because they realize that the rowing life is a long one and the more they can have a clear intention the more satisfaction will come from the work put in.

If you are measuring each day by your level of success or satisfaction in that one moment it’s going to get pretty frustrating pretty fast since we all know that some days are good while others...well, you see where I’m going.


If you are not playing the long game and experiencing each moment as a step towards your bigger moment, whatever that is, than it’s likely that you will get discouraged.

Just see that moment along a string of other moments that create a whole experience. It's about a holistic approach and combining these practices that contribute to being a 3D rower and competitor.


A three dimensional rower sets their intention and operates from that setting to make the grind of practices, erg pieces, and seat switching on a daily basis (just to name a few), all the more bearable, but not just bearable…meaningful.

A three dimensional rower takes a moment to step outside of themselves to take in fully this experience of rowing.

There is meaning in that and I want you to pay attention to the meaning. Ultimately the meaning you find will become the foundation for the motivation you need to drive yourself forward towards your next level, whatever that is.


Now certainly it’s not always possible to do this with the way life is. Sometimes just getting from a morning practice to work can be the greatest challenge of that day and there is no brain space to be “deeper” or more intentional about the rowing.

I get that.


It’s a specific practice.

It is a conscious intentional approach that you rehearse, just like the stroke.


If you are eyeballing a particular goal for yourself then taking time to see yourself from the inside out as an athlete matters. Engaging in a conscious way with your intentions and what you want to accomplish is an integral element of being an athlete and a fierce competitor.


How exactly does one do that?

There are several ways to do this: Journaling your athletic experience, following rituals or routines, or engaging in deliberate practice.


For this post I'm gong to touch on ritual.

Rituals are actions that help to trigger a particular mindset before engaging in an activity.


An example of a ritual that may work for you is to have a routine that you do the same way every time you are at the boathouse. Taking yourself through a specific warm up routine or, taking three deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth in order to calm and center yourself before getting hands on, are two possibilities for routines.


As a coach my routine is the same every day. I walk to the dock, look across the water, say thank you for this opportunity, take a deep cleansing breath, and then lightly touch the water creating a small ripple. This works for me because it reminds me to be grateful (saying thank you), to be intentional (the act of walking down to the dock), and to pass that on to others as best I can at that practice (the connection to the water and the ripples).


I strongly encourage you to develop a ritual in order to set a tone for being that 3D rower. You will be pleasantly surprised at how powerful it can be.


Be intentional.

Be a three dimensional rower.


Row hard, row well, compete, have fun!

Coach Knickerbocker

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