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Rowing Part 2: Drills

Here are some drills for you to try out the next time you’re in the gym. Happy Rowing!


Some simple drills can really help you fine tune the basics of the stroke. Below are two drills that can help improve every rower.

  1. Legs Only

Start in your catch position. Maintaining your forward body angle and keeping your arms extended press the legs back until they are fully extended. Focus on driving through your heels and not letting your body swing open. Once legs are fully extended compress them back to the catch position. By isolating the leg drive you can really make sure you don’t open your back too early and your leg power is being utilized to its fullest. Also really focus on keeping your shoulders and arms relaxed. I recommend doing 15-20 strokes to legs only and then rowing 15-20 full strokes trying to feel your drive being initiated with the legs when you go to full strokes. Repeat several times.

  1. Arms and Body Pause

One of the most common faults I see with inexperienced rowers is they don’t get proper body angle. Having the right body angle allows you to push effectively with your legs, if your body is too upright at the catch you can’t effectively drive your legs. In the rowing stroke, you want to establish that forward body angle before your legs compress. A good point of reference is to make sure you handle is past your knees before you compress your legs.

A simple drill is to pause with your arms extended and body pivoted over, but legs still extended. Use those few seconds you are paused to make sure you are getting your body angle from your hips and not just hunching your shoulders. How much body angle you have is going to depend on hamstring flexibility and body proportions. You don’t need an extreme amount of forward body angle, just work on getting your shoulders out in front of the hips while maintaining decent posture. After you pause, try to not let your body angle change as you compress the legs.

The pause can be incorporated into your rowing in several ways. You can pause every stroke for a designated amount of strokes or time and then row it out continuous. Another good way to utilize the pause is to pause every other stroke or every third stroke for a designated amount of time to help reinforce the position.

The rowing stroke can be frustrating and intimidating, but it shouldn’t be and with the right technique you’ll get a lot out of it. Don’t be afraid to reach out to me for help with your rowing stroke if you are feeling frustrated!

-Coach Jackie

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