Virginia Rowing Club

Good Exercise - Great Fun

Virginia Rowing Club, Inc. - Hampton Virginia - Est. 1989

 

HOW TO ROW VIDEOS

LEARNING TO ROW

As with most sports, the best rowers make it look easy.  In fact, as your technique improves, you’ll find your rowing gets to be easier, faster, and a lot more fun.

Learning to row is in many ways like learning to ride a bicycle.  As with biking, understanding the basic concepts of rowing is easy, but teaching your body to do it intuitively takes some practice.

Unlike learning to bike, you can’t fall over and skin your knee.  Indeed, the boats we use for training are very stable. So you’re very unlikely to get wet.

Initially there’s a lot to learn. The first lesson is chock full of information.  And, much like your first cycling lesson, everything feels alien and awkward at first.

But the awkward feeling passes very quickly as you start to master the basics.

Our lessons start off for the first few minutes right at the dock.  The student and instructor sit, face to face, in a very wide, stable rowing shell built for two (a “double”).

We break the mechanics down into bite-size pieces.  After a few minutes we leave the dock and continue to add more bits and pieces.

The lesson sequence generally proceeds as follows. 

By the end of the first lesson, the student can propel the boat though the water and steer.

By the end of the second lesson, the stroke starts to feel natural and the boat speed picks up.

After the third lesson, the student is in good command of the boat and can approach the dock and land the boat.

After that, the student can “solo” in a boat with “training wheels” while the instructor watches and offers advice and encouragement.

Soon the student is ready to travel up river.  FOR SAFTY REASONS, IT’S STRONLY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU ROW IN GROUPS OF TWO OR MORE BOATS. 

The videos below will give you a big head start. They’ll help you learn the terminology and concepts so you can focus your time on the water learning how to apply those concepts and develop “muscle memory” so the stroke becomes as natural as walking. 

(If any of these videos fails to load properly, please let us know so we can fix the problem.)

LEARNING TO ROW VIDEOS - THE FUNDAMENTALS

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN THESE VIDEOS.  We have scoured the web for the very best.  Here are ten fabulous short videos on the fundamentals, along with an excellent Rowing Safety video from US Rowing.  

The  videos below will demonstrate these key aspects of a good rowing stroke:

OVERALL
Fluid motion throughout.
No jerking; no bouncing; chin up; head motionless.

THE DRIVE
The fingers (not the palm) grip the oars; with the wrists flat.
With the oars submerged  in the water, the stroke starts with the chest close to the knees, back straight, shoulders relaxed.
This is a leg sport much more than an arm sport.
The power is 60% legs, 30% torso, 10% arms.
The legs drive first; then the hips rock back; then the arms fold.
Important tip: The arms and back remain relaxed and the ELBOWS DON’T FOLD until the legs finish driving.
As the legs drive, the hands don’t climb or dive, they glide across a horizontal plane, as though they are being pulled across a flat tabletop. 
The stroke finishes with the torso leaning back slightly, with the elbows raised away from the ribs and extended behind the back.

THE RECOVERY
The oar handles are then “tapped” down slightly, thereby lifting the blades off the water.
The blades lift barely off the water (the “release”).
The oar is rolled so the blades lie flat (“feather”).
The body comes upright and the arms start to extend. (Some coaches reverse this sequence and have the hands extend before the torso comes upright.)
The rower then pauses briefly as the boat glides.
The hands then reach past the knees and the legs begin to fold.
The blades swing forward (the “return”).
During the return, the oars skim the water.
The arms then extend fully, the hands separate, and the blades are lifted slightly so they can be squared.

THE CATCH
After a pause, the hands rise slightly (2”) 
The blades submerge (the “catch”).
The leg drive DOESN’T BEGIN until the oars are submerged.
The drive sequence repeats.


1)  STROKE SEQUENCE VIDEO - 12 Minutes - 5/5!
Demonstrated on an Erg rowing machine.
Stroke sequence and posture: leg, arm, shoulder, pelvis, back and hand movement. How to avoid back injury.
Examples of good and bad technique.
Very clearly explained. Wonderful video.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I9r6bXOvepU

2)  FEATHERING VIDEO - 6 minutes - 4/5
SKIP OVER the first part (rower in boat) and instead PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO  the second part (guy sitting on rock) showing how to feather the with the fingers, not with wrist. Very important element of stroke.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RMiVITkNO4M

3)  THE HANDS VIDEO  - 5 minutes - 5/5

Grip the oars with the fingers only, the same way you hang by your fingers from a chin-up bar.
Hands close together.
Left hand above and slightly beyond the right hand.
Horizontal pull, oars skim on recovery.
On-water demo.
RowingWithCalmWaters - Hollings
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o3MdSkh2s2o

4)  THE DRIVE VIDEO - 4 minutes - 5/5
Horizontal drive with hands
Drive core (navel).
Don’t throw shoulders; don’t shoot seat
RowingWithCalmWaters
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=lpXP6l6QZGI

5)  FINISH & RELEASE VIDEO - 6 minutes - 4/5
Tapping the blade out of the water
Three steps: stop, tap, feather.
RowingWithCalmWaters
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ytUGBRiFxHg

6)  RECOVERY & CATCH VIDEO - 6 minutes 5/5
RowingWithCalmWaters - Hollings
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I4yWtnTFdoY

7)  GLIDING VIDEO - Rock and Row - 7 minutes
Lever oars out of water with forearm only.
Two pauses in the stroke
1 After the body comes upright, arms relaxed (the glide)
2 Just before the catch (As the blade is squared)
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6gChwVL4uXA

8)  ALL TOGETHER NOW VIDEO - 4 minutes - 5/5

Here  are great examples of college -level rowers in a hugely popular four minute music video.  See if you can spot examples of good and bad techniquess.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=pU92kwcbBqA

9)  STEERING THE BOAT VIDEO - 4 minutes - 5/5
RowingWithCalmWaters
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=2Ry2O5f8q0Y
 

10)  HOW TO BALANCE THE BOAT WITH CONFIDENCE VIDEO - 10 Minutes

You have complete control of the boat’s balance as long as you hold onto the oars.

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS OF ROWING:

    1    NEVER LET GO OF THE OARS.

    2    NEVER LET GO OF THE OARS.

    3    NEVER LET GO OF THE OARS.

    4    NEVER LET GO OF THE OARS.

    5    NEVER LET GO OF THE OARS.

    6    NEVER LET GO OF THE OARS.

    7    NEVER LET GO OF THE OARS.

    8    NEVER LET GO OF THE OARS.

    9    NEVER LET GO OF THE OARS.

    10    NEVER LET GO OF THE OARS.

If you follow that rule, you can even STAND UP in a racing shell!!!

You gotta see this!  Skip ahead to minute 4:25.  

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=eUYf7xGMlpk

11)  US ROWING SAFETY VIDIO

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx5SUe_RdgQ

 

ADVANCED TECHNIQUE & RACING

12)  REFINING YOUR TECHNIQUE VIDEO - 11 minutes - 5/5
Why tensing your arms and shoulders ruins your drive.
How to use the body core (the abdomen and lower back), not the shoulders.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vPjVcJmsrE8


13)  LEARNING FROM THE VERY BEST VIDEO  - 8 minutes - 5/5
Slow and stop action / laser pointer
Olympic Gold Medal Double team.  This is an excellent example of how bad habits, once formed early on, can be so hard to break, even with this level of training and practice.   Starting at minute 1:30, the bowman is feathering correctly, while the stern man uses too much wrist.  This video also demonstrates beautifully the two different schools of thought on how to initiate the recovery.  The bowman uses the technique our coach, Red Miller, teaches - let the torso come upright before beginning to extend the arms; while the stern rower starts the return with his arms, then follows with his torso.  The second approach is easier to teach - “fold and unfold; the return is the same as the drive, but in reverse” - but is much, much harder on the lower back and shoulders.  The over-cocked wrist of the stern man makes it harder for him to bring his torso upright before he starts to extend his arms, forcing him to use the more stressful approach to initiating the recovery.  This is just one example of why learning to feather with your fingers, rather than your wrist, is so important.  It makes everything else so much easier. 
RowingWithCalmWaters - Dunn
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=BAkX2KlrAR8