Rowing Technique

These notes describe the rudiments of the LTRC fixed-seat rowing style.


Although the rowing stroke is a continuous fluid motion it is helpful to split it into three distinct phases for coaching purposes.

The drive.

Lower your oar blade quickly into the water

Accelerate it through to the finish of the stroke by pushing with the legs and drawing back with the shoulders and arms so that the oar handle comes right into your chest.

The extraction.

Lift the oar blade quickly from the water by pushing down with the wrists.

Next turn the blade onto the feather with the inside wrist.

Finally push the oar handle away right over the knees, keeping the back steady and maintaining foot pressure on the stretcher.

The recovery.

Rock your body fully over from the hips to reach out ready for the next stroke.

As you approach front stops turn your oar blade square using your inside hand.

Make sure that you move slowly forward to let the boat run and get your recovery!


Rhythm. It is really important for you to row in an efficient rhythm which allows time for you to recover between strokes. Each of the three phases, drive, extraction and recovery, should take about the same time so the rhythm is like a waltz with three beats to the bar. Also rowing at light pressure should be done at a much lower rating that firm pressure, because everything is done in slow motion.

Length. Long strokes are more efficient effectively than short strokes for moving the boat so everybody needs to work on their flexibility and progressively work on increasing their length at both ends of the stroke.

Timing. Crew members should synchronise their body motions with Stroke and also keep their oars parallel at all times. Part of the LTRC style is for every stroke to be uniform and identical.

Lateral Pressure. Keep the button of your oar pressed out against the gate at all times using your little finger over the end of your oar. This is important to maintain good quality bladework.

Discipline in the Boat. Remember that the coxswain is in charge. Always listen carefully to and obey his/her orders.


Exercises are important for several reasons:

Improving technique

Improving fitness

Safety awareness

Here are the main exercises used at LTRC.

Exercise and Purpose

Varying the stoke length: rowing strokes with arms only, then ¼ swing, ½ swing. ¾ swing, full length.               Warming up, improving timing, increasing stroke length.

Single strokes: finishing at either back stops or front stops.     Warming up, working on crew rhythm, concentrating on technique.

Firm pressure drills: interval training, pyramids, ‘fartlek’ or steady state.                Race training

‘Ten green bottles’: 10 strokes firm, 10 light, 9 firm, 9 light, 8 firm, 8 light etc. Oarsmen count for themselves.             Training, crew discipline, marking out the difference between firm rowing and light rowing.

Square blade paddling (no feathering)                                         Balanc, training beginners

Emergency stop, backwatering, spinning the boat, shipping oars               Safety. manoeuvering

Man overboard drill                                                                         Safety

Seamanship: coxing and steering, currents, rules of the water, safety rules           Coxing, rowing without a cox, safety

Racing starts and cornering a buoy. Short, fast, powerful strokes.             Race training

Rowing with eyes shut, listening to the boat.                               Rhythm


Every outing should have a training plan decided in advance.

Since we usually operate a rotation policy for the rowers, coxswain and passenger

it is very important to ensure that each crew member completes the correct amount of work.

Here are some example outing plans.

2 firm pressure pyramids of 1’, 2’, 3’, 4’, 3’, 2’, 1’ with 1’ rests in between,

Fartlek: 30 x 50” firm, 10” light.

Intervals: 6 x 5’ firm with 2’ rests.

Endurance: 2 x 30’ continuous firm.

Rowing and Coxing Proficiency Test

LTRC rowing proficiency