Why the fish game is more than a child’s game.
Back in 2003 the performance monitor (PM) that came with all model D rowers got a significant upgrade and along with it came a laundry list of new features including a never before seen function called – GAMES.
Now show this to any teenager who currently plays games on any of the mobile or designated games platforms out there, what this version of “gaming” is all about, and they’ll think you’re crazy for even considering this as a game. Especially when it is nothing more than a few pixels that move up/down and right to left, superficially they would be 100% right.
However to those who have spent enough time around rowing and on the indoor rower, the one game that still to this day gets little to no recognition for its power of understanding this machine and tapping into your competitive nature is the good old fashioned – FISH GAME!!
Wait, you’re telling me a game can help me row??
In one word, YES!!
So, as you may or may not know the fish game was originally developed by the Dreissigacker brothers, as a way of getting children to engage with the machine and learn the mechanics of the rowing movement without having to get out on the water and actually row. The beautiful thing about this is as we all know whatever children do it won’t be long before an adult steps up and has a go, I mean who wants to be beaten by their kids in a game that’s all about collecting points from inanimate objects!!
Therein lies the first amazing point of the fish game – it hits that little nerve we all have to better ourselves (and destroy the dreams of kids), in a way that also gets us physically active in the process. Yes it can be frustrating when you see 4 giant fish all coming towards you at the same time and you have no way of avoiding them, however in order to move that fish up and down the left hand side of the screen you can use full stroke, ½ stroke, ¾ stroke, arms only legs only IT DOES NOT MATTER, it just teaches you to move and connect to that machine.
Okay, so I can beat my 7 year old but how is this helping me improve my rowing?
Here’s the deal about rowing and seeing improvements as you do it more consistently. It never has, or never will be about sitting grinding out meter after meter in an attempt to get better at rowing. It’s about learning to apply pressure to the stroke in a way you can maintain for the duration or distance desired. The fish game teaches you exactly this, as the modulation in pressure required to move the fish up and down the screen, yes can come from adjusting your stroke length but more importantly comes from adjusting the pressure you are applying through the feet and the initiation of the stroke through the drive phase.
By learning to modulate that pressure you’re teaching your body to work at different strokes per min (SPM), and this is how you get good at rowing both longer and shorter distances both on the indoor rower and on the water.
So playing the fish game really is about learning mechanics and pressure?
Correct!! Dark Horse Rowing has for the longest time utilized the slogan “Push, Don’t Pull” – this was never just about changing people’s mindsets of how to row but how to master the mechanics and the pressure used for the drive phase of the stroke, This truly is the only time you can directly influence the metrics you see on the screen, and gain the feel for the stroke as you learn to connect better to that piece of equipment.
The more you do this the better not only your stroke but also your score on the game itself!!
And there you have it! Use this as either a warm up, or play a few rounds against others and see how good you are at controlling the stroke and the little fish in an effort to get those all important bragging rights in your home and at the gym. The more you do this the better you will be at all aspects of the rowing stroke.
Yours in education, fitness and mastering the fish game!
Photo by Sebastian Pena Lambarri on Unsplash
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