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A Biomechanical Analysis of Rowing

Proper coordination and sequencing of movements will result in efficient, powerful and sustainable rowing.

Technique is the most important aspect of becoming a powerful and efficient rower. Not only does it allow you to produce more power, but also helps prevent injuries that can occur with improper technique on the rowing machine.


For the purposes of this article, technique refers to the correct posture and coordination of different body segments. Alternative phrasing for this definition being “form and sequencing”.


The sequence of a stroke is the basis of good technique. The biggest misconception with rowing is that power comes from your arms, but in actuality, the majority of power comes from your legs. The beginning of the stroke is called the “catch”. The catch is followed by the “drive” and “finish” phases and the last phase of the stroke is the “recovery” phase. These four phases are sequential in nature but are executed as one fluid cyclical motion.

It should also be noted that the drive and recovery phases are normally seen as a 1:2 ratio; meaning that the time spent to “recover” on the way up the slide takes twice as long as driving the legs back during the power producing phase of the stroke. Creating this rhythm allows for the continuous flow of the stroke and gives you true recovery time. Additionally, on the water, it will reduce any forward jolting of the boat, which can set back the number of meters gained during the drive.

1. The Catch

2. The Drive

3. The Finish