Common Errors

Improve your Rowing Technique

Here we review common technique challenges, how to address “problem” areas to be more effective, and show you some drills for practicing better rowing technique.

The common errors are broken up into three groups—arms/grip, back, and legs.

Arms/Grip

Common Rowing Error: Bending Arms Too Early

Rowing engages the large muscles groups of the legs. For a strong stroke, initiate the stroke with the legs, not the arms.

Common Rowing Error: Overgrip, Wrists and Holding the Handle

A tense grip on the handle can hurt your wrists and forearms. Wrap your fingers comfortably around the handle with your thumbs underneath. Wrists should stay flat and relaxed throughout the entire stroke.

Back

Common Rowing Error: Lunging at the Catch

Diving forward or reaching too far forward is a weak position to start the rowing stroke and can reduce the effectiveness of your leg drive. Prepare the body position early in your rowing stroke.

Common Rowing Error: Lifting with the Back

Push with your legs early in the stroke sequence. The shoulders and legs should move together to initiate the stroke.

Common Rowing Error: Finding the Right Layback and Length

An extreme layback is a weak position; it doesn’t contribute powerful length to your stroke. Engage your core to find a powerful and comfortable finish.

Legs

Common Rowing Error: Bending Knees Early

If your knees come up early, it's hard to get your hands up and over them. This feels like “rowing over a barrel”; your hands have an obstacle in the way. Hands clear the knees before the knees bend on the recovery.

Common Rowing Error: Rushing the Slide and Finding Rhythm

On the drive, accelerate the handle as your “jump” off the footstretchers. Use the recovery part of the stroke to relax before your next stroke.

Common Rowing Error: Overcompression and Shins

Athletes who overcompress at the catch put their legs and knees in a weak position, which can reduce the effectiveness of your leg drive. Find where your shins should be at the catch position.

Common Rowing Error: Shooting the Slide

The handle and seat should move together on each stroke.