Getting Started in Adaptive Rowing


Adaptive rowers rowing on the water at Maidenhead RC (c) C Steel

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How do I get started?

Adaptive Rowing means that we try to modify the equipment for the users’ needs and ability as closely as possible. Rowing lends itself to all impairment groups, including those with visual impairment (VI), amputees, wheelchair users and those with learning difficulties (LD).

Many British Rowing affiliated clubs offer Adaptive Rowing programmes and have accessible facilities. However, if your local club does not offer anything officially they still may be able to help get you started within the sport. If you would like to have a go at rowing we suggest that you get in touch with one of Community Support Managers to discuss your options.


Coaches and Volunteers

How can I get involved in coaching?

You can use the Club Finder tool on the British Rowing website to find your nearest club that offers Adaptive Rowing. Alternatively you can contact the Community Support Managers, who will put you in touch with your nearest club

Do I need any qualifications?

You do not need any qualifications to volunteer with the coaching of rowers with an impairment or disability, although the club may ask you to fill in a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) form for participant welfare purposes. First aid and power boat qualifications are good to have but not essential. You might want to consider attending British Rowing’s Introduction to Coaching Rowers with a Disability workshop.

If you are volunteering as a coach, there is an advantage to having a rowing coaching qualification or be working towards one; but do not let this put you off if you don’t – if you have coached a different sport and wish to have a go at coaching rowing there is no reason why you should not get in touch with your local club. You do not need a different qualification to coach Adaptive Rowing participants; however you may wish to acquire some further disability specific information or training to upskill. Details can be found on our Learn pages or subsequently through your County Sports Partnerships (CSPs).

Clubs and Centres

What facilities do we need?

This will depend on the nature of the individual’s impairment or needs; do not assume that all individuals will be wheelchair users. A warm welcome and a receptive approach are a good start. Some rowers will need minimal adaptations, if any. Others will need adaptations to enable them to access your club – for more advice contact see the EFDS guidance for clubs in the Club Resources section.

What equipment will we need?

As mentioned above, not all rowers with disabilities will need adaptations to equipment. For further details, contact us by email.

Event Organisers

If you are interested in including Adaptive Events in your Regatta programme, helpful advice is above here Adaptive Rowing Safety Guidance for Event Organisers.

More in this section

Adaptive Rowing Equipment

Adaptive Rowing uses equipment that is adapted to enable the individual to take part in the sport. The way people adapt to their disability is an individual process. Two rowers with the same disability may require completely different equipment modifications, so it is important to work with athletes to determine what is optimal to enhance…

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Rowers with a disability who want to race either indoor or on the water will need to go through British Rowing’s classification system.  

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