A coach’s eye on your blade keeps technical crabs at bay during a practice. But if you’re out
alone you need a way to self-coach. As a part of your daily warm-up choose a drill that gives you
clear feedback and sets the tone for your row.
Two essential drills
Here are a couple of suggestions.
Feet-out rowing focuses on a clean release of the blade using the support of the water to assist
the exit. The drill helps you row tall, preventing your weight from falling into the bow. Remove
your feet from the shoes and place them on top of the stretcher. During the drive hold steady
pressure against the foot stretcher and as you draw the oar handle. Tap down on the oar handle to
release the blade in sync with legs down; just before you lose the pressure on the blade. Keep
your weight over the handle as you then feather as the hands move away from your body. If the
release is late, your feet will come off the shoes, and going in the water is likely. If you nail it,
it’s crisp and feels easy. Practice rowing slowly for 10 minutes feet-out.
Rowing with a pause at one-quarter slide helps you practice rowing with a quiet upper body on
the recovery. Transition smoothly from the drive to the follow-through position of arms-body
away. When your knees rise slightly at one-quarter slide, pause. Let the boat glide for a count of
one-one thousand, two-one thousand, then row on. Keep your upper body quiet and steady as
you compress on the slide. Let the knees come up to your chest versus the chest dropping to the
knees as you get ready to place the blade. Practice sets of 10 strokes.
If it helps you to focus, give yourself a score out of 10 for each set of the drill you do. Mark your
improvement. If you don’t get better, it may be time to head in to the pontoon and practice again
another time. Practicing rowing wrongly will not be helpful in the long term and a tired body and
mind finds challenging drills very hard to do successfully.