Rowing Basics

Rowing Basics

Please familiarize yourself with the following information:

  • Boat and Oar basics
  • Basic rowing commands* you’ll hear on the water from the cox or coach:1. “Count Down”: The crew calls out their seat number, starting with the bow seat, to signify that they are ready to row.

    2. “Weigh Enough”: The command to stop rowing.

    3. “Hands-on”: A command when launching or taking boat out of the water, meaning all rowers should grab the boat on the gunnels in preparation for lifting the boat.

    4. “Heads Up”: A general command which means to look out and pay attention.

    5. “Hold Water”: A command to stop rowing, squaring the blades in the water, to stop the boat. Sometimes this must be done quickly to avoid a collision.

    6. “Let it Run”:A command to stop rowing and let the boat glide, oars off the water.

    7. “Oars squared and buried”: The standard command to prepare to row. This means that all oars should be squared, or perpendicular to the water, and buried in the water so just the top edge is showing. At this point, you should be in the “finish” position with legs flat, oar handle at your “mark” in the area of the bottom of your rib cage, and with proper back layback.

    8. “On Two”: The standard way that a command is introduced. This provides advance notice to the rowers that a command is coming and gives them two strokes to get prepared. Thus the command “on two, bow four out” lets everyone know that after the next two strokes, the bow four rowers are to stop rowing, resting their oars flat on the water, while the stern four rowers continue to row.

    9. “Paddle”: A command to apply just light pressure on the oar; an easy row for resting.

    10. “Pause at…”:This is a general command for a frequently used drill. The command “pause at half slide” means that you freeze your position at the middle point in the movement of the slide up the track on the recovery. Once the boat is set, with everyone still, the command “continue” means you then continue through with the rest of the stroke. You will hear commands to pause at “quarter slide”, at “half-slide”, at “hands away”, or at “hands and body away”. You continue making that pause at each stroke until the command “continuous row”.

    11. “Power 10”: A call for all rowers to do 10 of their best, most powerful strokes.

    12. “Pressure”: A general command usually given to one side or the other, or to particular positions (like the bow, or bow and three), to pull especially hard. The purpose of this command is to turn the direction of the boat more quickly than can be done with the rudder alone.

    13. “Ready, Row”: The general command to begin rowing, starting on the word “Row”.

    14. “Rowing by Fours (or Sixes)”: This command will be used a lot as you are learning to row. This means that only four (or six) rowers will be rowing at a time, while the other four (or two) are setting the boat. Generally, we will alternate which rowers are out and which are in, introducing each change with the “On Two” command, followed by a command such as “bow four out, stern four in”, or “5 and 6 out, 3 and 4 in”, etc.

    15. “Set the boat”: The command given to the rowers who are not rowingat that particular time. Their job is to keep their oars flat on the water, with the front edge of the blade slightly higher, that is the blade at a slight angle. This allows the blade to float on the surface of the water without digging in. Each rower who is “setting the boat” has to sense when the boat is tipping to their side, and then to put a slight downward pressure on the blade to push that side of the boat back up, to bring the boat back to level.

    16. “Early roll up”: A command you will hear frequently, reminding you to roll up or square up the blade on the recovery BEFORE the blade enters the water, to achieve a clean catch.

    * credit to Rat Island Rowing Club