Sitting in the Boat


Before you push off and start rowing, it is important to sit properly in the boat. A boat will tip from side to side if the rowers are not sitting properly in their seats.

Gripping the oar properly and knowing how far the blade should be off the water during the recovery, or buried beneath the water’s surface during the drive, are equally important to get right early in the season.


Sit tall and comfortably upright with your head up, shoulders down and chest out. Your “bum bones” should be on the back edge of the seat when your legs are straight. Sit in the centre of the seat with equal pressure on both sides of your body.

Gripping the oar

Many rowers hold the oar handle tightly and place their hands too close together. This will create tension and will prohibit a long forward extension.

Hold and control the oar with loose hands. The fingers should act like hooks with the handle underneath, rather than having a tight grip.

Hold the handle with your hands about two hand-widths apart. Or, reach your arms straight forward from the shoulders and hold the handle in your fingers without moving the hands closer together.

Hand heights

For a balanced boat all six oar handles must be at the same height during the finish and recovery and the catch and drive. The coxswain will watch rowers hands to ensure that all hands are at the same height and that they are moving back and forth in a straight line.

Blade depth

When buried, the blade should be at a consistent depth – just below the surface. The blade should float to the correct depth or it may need to be lifted slightly to ensure it is fully buried. The coxswain will check for blade depth during the stroke to ensure that blades are not going deep at the catch or drive and that they stay buried at the finish.