3 Tips for Better Rowing Technique


There’s nothing we love more than getting a juicy question in our social media DMs or blog comments. Like this one:


“I’ve been rowing for a while and I know I’ve developed some bad habits that I need to shake. Help!”


Does that one resonate with you?


If it does and you’re feeling a little “meh” about your rowing stroke, know that you’re in good company!


We all feel this way sometimes, or even a lot of the time.


Congratulations, you’re a rower!


Just like in golf, get a bunch of rowers around a table and, most likely even before the first pint of beer is empty, the conversation will make its way to technique.


From novice to Olympian, it’s “I’m not getting my hands away fast enough at the finish,” “I want to connect better at the catch,” etc. etc. [Actual statements heard from the mouths of super-seasoned veterans.]




That’s awesome, you may be saying, but what do I actually DO??


To answer the question of how to fix a broken rowing stroke we called in an expert: UCanRow2 / Concept2 Master Instructor Cassi Niemann, a 20-year rowing and coaching veteran, trainer of rowing instructors and creator of our RowReady course.


Whether it’s your stroke you’re working on or your students’, the right approach is to go back to the basics.



In the video, Cassi lays out three steps to get back to basics and clean up your stroke:



We often say, “If you can’t row well low, you can’t row well high.”


Translation: Get comfortable rowing no faster than 22 strokes per minute. Slowing down forces you to pay attention to getting all the parts of the stroke right, and in the right order.


Hint: For iPhone users, we LOVE the Metrownome app to help drill this in. Trainers: Use it on the warmup when you’re working this with your classes!





In watching tens of thousands of athletes on the rowing machine over the years, there’s no question that the thing people struggle with most is getting their shoulders in front of their hips before they bend their knees on the recovery.


In the video Cassi shows you how to use the pause drill to engrave proper forward body angle into your muscle memory.




Despite the arm workout that it might appear to be, 60 percent of the power in the rowing stroke actually comes from your legs. The reverse pick drill that Cassi demonstrates in the video will help you better connect your legs and use them to initiate the drive (instead of starting with your back or arms).



Of course, without seeing your individual stroke we can’t tell you that doing these things will solve your exact problem.


But we can tell you that the drills and techniques Cassi shares are classic go-tos for rowers of all ages and stages.


We use them on the daily, personally and with our classes.


Got something nagging at you that you’d like help with, be it on the technique/workout side, or on the business side of rowing or fitness? Post a comment below, we’d love to do a video or blog post about it!


Want more help with your rowing technique? Here are some options:


RowReady: 6 Weeks to Rowing Better – Faster – Stronger, even if right now you’re a flywheel freshman


RowStrong: Our free Facebook community for people who love rowing


Rowing Certification: Ready to level up and share your love of rowing with others? Get certified to teach it!


Like this post? Did it inspire a burning question? Drop us a message in the comments and let us know, we’d love to answer it!

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