Rowing Exercises

Exercises to improve your rowing technique, skills and confidence on the water


Popular exercises that rowers and coaches use to develop their skills and technique and to row together as a crew include:

  • Pauses/single strokes and ‘cutting the cake’
  • Square blade paddling
  • Roll ups
  • Eyes closed rowing
  • Feet out paddling.

Our Activity Cards explain how to do these and what they help with, and are designed to be used on the river bank or from a launch.

These videos show some static technical drills you can use to develop and test your skills.

Tap down and feather

This is a test of precision and balance. Tap the handles down and away from “backstops” to arms away. Your left hand needs to lead and the boat should balance. Try and keep your wrists flat!

Challenge: Do this three times in a row without the blades touching the water – in a single or as a crew.

Roll up and place

With the boat stationary, perform a clean and controlled recovery from backstops with feathered blades.

Challenge: Do this three times with the blades off the water and, if in crew, with ‘one catch’.

Sequencing from frontstops

Build the slide from frontstops starting with tapping the blades at the catch before driving on the legs.

After adding the hips, make the shoulders break the elbows and add the arm draw at the end, releasing with light hands.

Aim to do 5-10 successful strokes for each stage of the sequence.

Tip: keep the rating low and your posture tall.

Flat hands

Take at least three normal strokes before sculling for at least 250m with completely flat hands as soon as possible after the extraction and feathering. You can keep your thumbs on the ends of your blades. Then close your hand up to square.

Tip: Make sure you have the correct grip before starting!

More in this section

British Rowing Technique

Technique is a key aspect of a rower’s development, alongside physical and psychological development

View Content


From the difference between a quad and a four, to 'rigger jiggers' and 'rating', get up to speed with common rowing terms

View Content

Rowing Machine Technique

Good technique on the indoor rower will maximise the benefit of your training and ensure that you do not injure yourself

View Content

What to Wear for Rowing

You don’t need special or expensive sports kit when you’re getting started

View Content

Stay up to date...

Get the latest rowing news, tips, event info and updates straight to your inbox.

Sign up now!

Love Rowing

British Rowing’s charitable foundation

Love Rowing supports projects to increase the accessibility of rowing. Donate today!

Find out more