Rowing Tips

Rowing Technique

The rowing technique is quite different from any other sport, and usually feels very strange to those just starting out. Contrary to popular belief, very little of the stroke relies on using arm muscles and in fact requires use of the core and leg muscles primarily!

Your coaches will probably demonstrate the stroke and help you to build up your technique, usually utilising the ergs (rowing machines) to help with this. Watching videos of proper rowing technique and reading advice form British Rowing may also help.

The basic principles

  1. Sitting at backstops – back tilted from the hips backwards slightly, handle around rib height and making contact with your body, legs stretched
  2. Arms tap the blade down (which in the water would lift the spoon from its buried position)
  3. Arms are straightened and stretched outwards
  4. Back is tilted from hips to be slightly forward tilting
  5. Back and arms remain in a stable position as the legs slowly move the body up the slides, to front stops with shins perpendicular to the boat. This is known as the recovery and should be relaxed and slower than the drive
  6. The drive then commences, with power coming from the legs. The back and arms stay stable until the legs are straight
  7. The back is tilted backwards again, and the arms are brought in, returning the rower to backstops position


Please see the terms and tips under the jargon buster tab

Sitting the boat

A diagram to show the effects of handle height when sitting the boat.

Handle heights for sitting the boat
Handle heights for sitting the boat. Image by Wing Ying Chow. Licensed for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution Only 3.0 License.