Technique Flaws to Influence

As coxswain, you are part of the coaching staff.

While it is up to your rowers to effect a change in their rowing technique, you can improve the rowing in your boat by calling various flaws to their attention.

At the Catch:

  • Timing All blades should be entering (catching) and leaving
    (releasing) the water together. If not, call out “timing”, or specify
    who is early or late.

  • Pausing The stroke should be one continuous motion – sometimes
    rowers hesitate, or pause, at the catch or release. The catch
    should be smooth and quick and the release should be quick
    out of bow. If a rower is going too fast up the slide and is
    then pausing at the catch, you will feel a ‘stern check’ – your
    body will get thrown forward at the catch. Call out “no pausing
    at the catch”, “get rid of this stern check”, or try and work
    out by looking at the blades who is pausing.

  • Skying When the oar climbs in height during the recovery rather
    than remaining a constant couple of inches above the water.
    This occurs because the rower is dropping his hands towards his
    ankles at the catch (diving towards the catch), often to get
    more reach.

  • Deep The hands are lifted too high causing the oars to go too
    deep usually at the catch. Only the blades should be under water,
    not the oar shaft. Can be because rower is pulling with the
    inside arm.

  • Rowing in (Also known as catching on the drive or shooting the slide) The blade
    moves back towards the
    stern before it has been put in the water – the legs drive before the
    blade is securely locked into the water.

On the Drive:

  • Blade Depth Are the blades not moving evenly just under the surface of the water — are they washing out toward the release, or are they digging deep earlier in the stroke? Remind rowers to feel the water and call out who is digging deep or washing out.
  • Easing Up Does the boat feel like it is coasting or following-through at the end of the stroke, rather than accelerating through the drive? Remind rowers
    to accelerate through the drive.

At the Release:

  • Hesitation Oar stops for a moment as it comes out before moving
    away. Remind rowers “arms and backs quickly out of bow”

  • Messy water White water being scooped up at finish. Rower is
    feathering before the oar has cleared the water. Remind rowers
    about clean finishes, tapping down before they feather and push the
    blade away.

  • Washing out The oar starts out of the water before the drive has
    finished – you can see white water. Tell rowers to pull their
    oars into their chests

  • Short Releasing early – usually not enough layback. See this
    by looking at and comparing the distances between oars.

On the Recovery:

  • Set The boat is not sitting level in the water. Can be due to
    many causes: body weight leaning out of the boat; hand heights
    uneven; release not clean and so on.

  • Fast hands over the knees This is when the recovery is being rushed.
    Hands should be quick out of bow and slowed over the knees

  • Fast slide This is when the slide accelerates towards the
    catch – this slows down the boat. You can detect this when
    the oar speeds up towards the catch.


  • Slides hitting frontstops You will hear a “thud” at the catch
    when the seat wheels hit the front of the slide, which causes
    a stern check. The foot stretchers may need altering

  • Excessive oarlock noise The most common cause is the oar being
    pulled out of the oarlock at the release and pushed back against
    the button at the catch. Remind rowers to keep oar pushed out
    and lean into their riggers.