The standard length races for the Olympics and the World Rowing Championships is 2 kilometres (1.24 mi) long; 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) - 2 kilometres (1.24 mi) for US high school races on the east coast; and 1,000 m for masters rowers (rowers older than 27). However the race distance can and does vary from dashes or sprints, which may be 500 metres (1,640 ft) long, to races of marathon or ultra-marathon length races such as the Tour du Léman in Geneva, Switzerland which is 160 kilometres (99 mi),[36] and the 2 day, 185-kilometre (115 mi) Corvallis to Portland Regatta[37] held in Oregon, USA. In the UK, regattas are generally between 500 metres (1,640 ft) and 2 kilometres (1.24 mi) long.
Ergometer rowing machines (colloquially ergs or ergo) simulate the rowing action and provide a means of training on land when waterborne training is restricted, and of measuring rowing fitness. Ergometers do not simulate the lateral balance challenges, the exact resistance of water, or the exact motions of true rowing including the sweep of the oar handles. For that reason ergometer scores are generally not used as the sole selection criterion for crews (colloquially "ergs don't float"), and technique training is limited to the basic body position and movements. However, this action can still allow a comparable workout to those experienced on the water.

In sweep or sweep-oar rowing, each rower has one oar, held with both hands. This is generally done in pairs, fours, and eights. In some regions of the world, each rower in a sweep boat is referred to either as port or starboard, depending on which side of the boat the rower's oar extends to. In other regions, the port side is referred to as stroke side, and the starboard side as bow side; this applies even if the stroke oarsman is rowing on bow side and/or the bow oarsman on stroke side.