In the starting position, the knees should be bent, with the shoulders and arms extended forward and the shins held vertically. Begin rowing by pushing both feet against the row machine’s platform and straighten the legs until they’re slightly bent. Pull the paddle towards you, using bent elbows as you slightly lean back while focusing on keeping your back straight. This type of motion should be both continuous and fluid.
There are many differing sets of rules governing racing, and these are generally defined by the governing body of the sport in a particular country—e.g., British Rowing in England and Wales, Rowing Australia in Australia, and USRowing in the United States. In international competitions, the rules are set out by the world governing body, the Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d'Aviron (FISA). The rules are mostly similar but do vary; for example, British Rowing requires coxswains to wear buoyancy aids at all times, whereas FISA rules do not.
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.
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