Rowing Techniques & Breathing

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When it comes to rowing, it’s no good focusing on developing physical strength in isolation. Rowers may look like they are making one flowing movement, but in fact the technique can be broken into four separate actions. A proper rowing technique involves the catch, the drive, the finish and the recovery, and correct breathing techniques can improve performance.


Be careful not to over-exert your shoulders in the first part of the movement. In May 2008, two-time World Championships bronze medal winner, Michelle Guerette, told New York Times readers to imagine standing on a patch of water that’s in front of your blade. Plant the blade and push everything past it in a smooth motion.


During the drive stage, the force of your legs should transport body weight to your feet. At the same time, make use of other muscles in your body to give maximum power to the oars. This movement will thrust the boat forward.


While the drive used strength from the legs, the finish should utilize muscles in the back, shoulders and arms. Hold the pressure as you draw in your arms, then smoothly draw the oars from the water. Again, make use of the other muscles in your body, and convey all of that power to the oars, as you close the drive.


Allow your hands to lead the recovery by gracefully pushing the oars away from the body to release. When your arms are completely extended, move your seat forward to begin again.


Because professional rowers use their respiratory muscles to help create force, breathing must be coordinated with stroke rate. Rowers may experience more reduction in performance due to poor lung function than other athletes, according to professional website, Peak Performance, and two breathing patterns are generally accepted to counter this. Professional rowers tend either to exhale on the stroke, and inhale on the recovery, or take a complete breath during stroke and another one during recovery.