The Stroke

The whole body is involved in moving a shell through the water. Although rowing tends to look like an upper body sport, the strength of the rowing stroke comes from the legs.

The stroke is made up of four parts: catch, drive, finish, and recovery. As the stroke begins, the rower is coiled forward in the sliding seat, with knees bent and arms outstretched. At the catch, the athlete drops the oar blade vertically into the water.

At the beginning of the drive, the body position doesn't change - all the work is done by the legs. As the upper body begins to uncoil, the arms begin their work, drawing the oar blades through the water. Continuing the drive, the rowers move their hands quickly into the body, which by this time is in a slight layback position, requiring strong abdominal muscles.

During the finish, the oar handle is moved down, drawing the oar blade out of the water. At the same time, the rower feathers the oar -- turning the oar handle -- so that the oar blade changes from a vertical position to a horizontal one. The oar remains out of the water as the rower begins the recovery, moving the hands away from the body and past the knees. The body follows the hands and the sliding seat moves forward, until knees bent, the rower is ready for the next catch.

Sculling and Sweep Rowing
The Equipment
The Stroke
The Race
Rowing Terms
Rowing Lingo
Race Watching Tips
Top 10 List