Rowing is a sport that requires so much endurance and stamina, and it takes ever part of the body to make the perfect stroke. A few very important items to remember if you want a perfect rowing stroke is to keep your chin up and your body strong.
The stroke is divided into four sections: the catch, drive, finish, and recovery.
Technique of the Rowing Stroke:
Catch - This is what most rowers refer to as the first aspect of the stroke. During the approach to the catch it is important that the blade is rolled onto the square by the hand. An illustration of this is well detailed by the Hughes Hall Boat Club. The oar gets placed in the water by your outside hand, which raises the oar handle and locks the blade in the water. It is important to only raise the hands, nothing else. The body and legs should be back all the way during the catch, ready to put pure muscle into the drive.
Drive - Throughout the entire drive phase your weight should be suspended on the oar handle. After the oar is in the water then the leg drive begins, this is when all the power is driven from the legs. According to the RowPerfect organization out of the UK, this time the blade face is completely covered. The leg drive is followed by the arms and upper body drive; they are continuing to pull the oar in the water. When the legs are almost completed with their drive, the upper body continues the drive with the arms moving quickly to the body.
Finish - The finish is quite short, but very important for the whole cycle to continue. While the body is in an almost laid-back position; the outside hand and forearms move the oar handle down and around in one fluid motion. Britannica Encyclopedia states it this way: "The extraction of the blade after driving the boat through the water is called the finish." It is important to remember that your outside wrist stays flat throughout the entire stroke.
Recovery - The drive and fast finish are followed by the recovery, this is where the oar is transitioned back to start the catch. Stated in my article, "2012 Summer Olympics Rowing Guide," the hands move away from the body at a constant speed and at this time the oar is in the air. The recovery can also be called the slide, due to the seat inside the boat moving back to be prepared for the catch.
Even though these four aspects of the rowing stroke happen so quickly, they are critical to getting that perfect stroke and Olympic time.
Ashley Hodge was a member on the University of Minnesota: Twin Cities Women's Rowing Team. After three months on the freshman team, she participated the next three years on the varsity team. For the majority of her rowing career, Ashley sat in seat seven, behind the stroke.