Training Tips

SCRA Fixed-Seat Rowing Technique Videos (on YouTube)

The SCRA recently created the following excellent videos, which take you through most aspects of fixed-seat rowing technique.

Introduction (1/6) The Drive (4/6)
Personal Set Up (2/6) The Recovery (5/6)
The Catch (3/6) Handy Pointers (6/6)

Other useful training tips

General Points

This video also demonstrates the basic rowing technique:
1) At the finish, hands come in to around the lowest rib and then hardly go down (watch how much the oar is lifted out of the water nevertheless);
2) Shoulders stay level at the finish and the outside one shouldn’t drop;
3) Arms are straight throughout the drive and don’t start bending until the lean back for the finish;
4) Shoulders go back to enable a quick finish and the back is straight and upright;
5) Head is up and facing forwards at all times;
6) There is a slight bend in the legs on coming forward to allow for a long catch and then a drive through with the legs during the “heave” back (best seen in the middle of the video).
The rower is using an “Anstruther” style grip i.e. with both hands at the end of the handle. You can also have them shoulder width apart – it is very much a personal preference – whatever feels most relaxed and comfortable for you.

In the following video you can see some extremely determined North Berwick rowers doing the same thing at racing speed. Lots to learn here. An incredible achievement based on excellent technique, fitness, absolute concentration and a cox that drives them all the way – respect!


In the photo on the left, a crew is showing a good stretch forward just before the catch and perfect timing. If you do nothing else while rowing, make sure that you are in time with stroke. And on the right, not such good timing at the finish. Also notice that no.3 is leaning back a good way, stroke is leaning back a bit and nos.1 and 2 are fully upright.

Drive with straight arms

Leaning back into the stroke allowing the power from the leg drive to be transmitted through the core muscles and straight arms is a prerequisite for any rower who wants to make their stroke as strong as possible. In these photos you can clearly see that the rowers’ arms are still fully extended at the “one o’clock” lean back position.

Straight back and head up

Look carefully at the varied styles coming up to the catch. 3 & 4 have very bent backs and dropped heads. 1 also has a curved back and dropping head. 2 is one of the best skiff rowers in the country (he is always winning tons of medals for North Berwick) – strong, relaxed, open posture – head up, back straight.

Definition of terms:

Catch – the point at which the blade goes into the water. The body is hinged forward at the hips, back is straight, head is lifted with gaze towards Cox, arms are straight and outstretched, legs are bent, shoulders are relaxed. The blade is dropped smoothly and swiftly into the water until it is just submerged by allowing the hands to lift, the feet / toes are placed firmly against the foot rest in preparation for applying pressure.

Drive – the part of the stroke when the blade is in the water. Pressure is applied through the feet and legs and transferred to the blade in the water, the legs straighten as the body (with back still straight) pivots towards the bow of the boat strongly utilising the back to add pressure to the blade. After the body passes through vertical, the arms bend bringing the oar handle in towards the chest. Breathe out during the drive.

Finish – the motion to get the blade out of the water. With the body still just past vertical, the hands are pressed slightly down to lift the blade out of the water cleanly and quickly. The hands move away from the body until the arms straighten out towards the stern.

Recovery – the part of the stroke when the blade is out of the water. Leading with straight arms, the upper body returns through vertical pivoting at the hips and leans towards the stern. The back is straight throughout and the shoulders and hands are relaxed. The legs bend slightly and the feet engage with the foot rest ready for the next catch. Breathe in during the recovery.

Thanks to Eastern ACRC for the detailed descriptions.

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