Water Rowing Technique

Good technique is only good if it moves the boat effectively.

The British Rowing Technique is a long, front loaded, leg driven stroke. The aim of each stroke is to move the boat as far as possible, in the most efficient and effective way to gain and maintain speed.

Good technique produces maximum speed for minimum effort!

Drive Phase

Recovery Phase

Drive PhaseCommon Errors
The Drive 1This is the start of the drive phase of the stroke, when the blades are placed in the water (called ‘the catch’) and the boat is driven forwards using the large muscle groups in the legs and body. The shins are vertical, the back straight and leaning forward and the body closed up on the thighs. All that is needed is for the hands to lift upwards a little more, and the blades will be fully ‘locked’ in the waterThe seat begins to move backwards faster than shoulders. This fault is known as ‘bum shoving’ and it causes the powerful leg drive to be weakened considerably.
Drive Phase 2It is a mistake to think that rowing is pulling with the arms, but many beginners do this. The legs should be doing most of the work here, with the arms relaxed and the back still straight and leaning forward. The hands should be parallel to the boat. The feeling should be that of hanging off the blade handles.Arms pulling over the knees into an arc causing the blades to plunge too deep.
Drive Phase 3Nearing the end of the drive phase the body swings back and the arms are used to maintain the momentum of the blade handles.The blade handle is pulled down (instead of along) causing the blade to lift from the water before the end of the stroke. This is called “washing out”.
Drive Phase 4The hands make a small tap downwards, to lift the blades clear of the water. The legs are flat down. The back is straight, but leaning slightly back so that the abdominal muscles feel a slight pull. The blade handles just brush the body when the spoon end is flat on the water. This is the end of the drive phase and the recovery phase begins.The rower sits too upright and the elbows droop down – the effect is to shorten the stroke. The rower leans too far back – which delays the recovery.
Drive Phase:
The Drive 1
This is the start of the drive phase of the stroke, when the blades are placed in the water (called ‘the catch’) and the boat is driven forwards using the large muscle groups in the legs and body. The shins are vertical, the back straight and leaning forward and the body closed up on the thighs. All that is needed is for the hands to lift upwards a little more, and the blades will be fully ‘locked’ in the water
Common Errors:
The seat begins to move backwards faster than shoulders. This fault is known as ‘bum shoving’ and it causes the powerful leg drive to be weakened considerably.
Drive Phase:
Drive Phase 2
It is a mistake to think that rowing is pulling with the arms, but many beginners do this. The legs should be doing most of the work here, with the arms relaxed and the back still straight and leaning forward. The hands should be parallel to the boat. The feeling should be that of hanging off the blade handles.
Common Errors:
Arms pulling over the knees into an arc causing the blades to plunge too deep.
Drive Phase:
Drive Phase 3
Nearing the end of the drive phase the body swings back and the arms are used to maintain the momentum of the blade handles.
Common Errors:
The blade handle is pulled down (instead of along) causing the blade to lift from the water before the end of the stroke. This is called “washing out”.
Drive Phase:
Drive Phase 4
The hands make a small tap downwards, to lift the blades clear of the water. The legs are flat down. The back is straight, but leaning slightly back so that the abdominal muscles feel a slight pull. The blade handles just brush the body when the spoon end is flat on the water. This is the end of the drive phase and the recovery phase begins.
Common Errors:
The rower sits too upright and the elbows droop down – the effect is to shorten the stroke. The rower leans too far back – which delays the recovery.
Recovery PhaseCommon Errors
Recovery Phase 1At the beginning of the recovery phase, the hands move down and away. The arms move away from the body, which is balanced vertically, but the seat has not yet begun to move and the knees are still held down. The arms, shoulders and neck are relaxed. This posture aids recovery from the exertion of the stroke, and helps to keep the boat balanced in the water.
The body then rocks over from the pelvis, with the back straight, and the knees lift, allowing the seat to move.
The knees lift and get in the way of the hands, which should be moving parallel to the boat.
Recovery Phase 2The hands are higher or lower than the point shown. The body is not leaning forward at the angle shown. The rower does not slow momentum before taking the catch.
Recovery Phase 3The body is upright and the arms are not held out long enough.
Recovery Phase 4The body at this point is in the catch position, moving forward until the shins are vertical and the sequence begins again.The rower does not reach forward to get a long stroke. The body collapses over the knees. The shins are not vertical.
Recovery Phase:
Recovery Phase 1
At the beginning of the recovery phase, the hands move down and away. The arms move away from the body, which is balanced vertically, but the seat has not yet begun to move and the knees are still held down. The arms, shoulders and neck are relaxed. This posture aids recovery from the exertion of the stroke, and helps to keep the boat balanced in the water.
The body then rocks over from the pelvis, with the back straight, and the knees lift, allowing the seat to move.
Common Errors:
The knees lift and get in the way of the hands, which should be moving parallel to the boat.
Recovery Phase:
Recovery Phase 2
--
Common Errors:
The hands are higher or lower than the point shown. The body is not leaning forward at the angle shown. The rower does not slow momentum before taking the catch.
Recovery Phase:
Recovery Phase 3
--
Common Errors:
The body is upright and the arms are not held out long enough.
Recovery Phase:
Recovery Phase 4
The body at this point is in the catch position, moving forward until the shins are vertical and the sequence begins again.
Common Errors:
The rower does not reach forward to get a long stroke. The body collapses over the knees. The shins are not vertical.

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