5 Head Racing Tips

Head racing rowing stories for you to learn the best tactics for overtaking, starting, fending off another crew, maintaining form, race plans, and sprinting for the line.


5 Tips for head racing

01:50 Head Racing is fun – we are going to share one tip each for five critical parts of your race. Firstly, the key rule is to practice everything beforehand. DON’T do it in the race for the first time.

03:30 Clarifying your understanding of every call – what it means and how to do it. It’s essential everyone in the crew has identical comprehension of the cox’s calls.

The Start

04:00 Starting the race

– Be at race speed as you cross the line – do a moving start (half, half, three quarter, full full slide).

– Start close to the crew in front – try one and a half lengths. Position the boat hull to avoid wake from the boat in front’s puddles as they come under your riggers.


06:30 Overtaking

– Pay attention to your blades if you are on the side closest to the other crew. Avoid clashing blades – adjust your timing so you place yours into the water in between their oars. Watch your oar and try to put it in behind theirs. Don’t look at the other crew if you aren’t on that side of the boat – your job is to keep the boat level while overtaking. Use a little lateral pressure on the gate.

– Get close behind the crew before starting to overtake and then steer late. Try to hold your line as long as possible and hope the other crew steers away first. It’s like a game of “rowing chicken”.

Being overtaken

09.20 Fending off another crew from overtaking you.

– As you watch them coming take long strokes. Try to increase stroke length by one inch a stroke.

– Steer late and hope they steer around you first.

Hold your technique quality

2:30 Maintaining form

– Have several “one word mantras” which are your key to row wall. This could be “legs” or “swing”. Simple commands because the athlete’s brain is oxygen-starved and not good at comprehending when tired.

– The coxswain should take control of the technique and tell the crew how to do the change they want e.g. “lift your hands to the catch” or “Length in the water”.


15:45 Sprinting for the line

– Agree one landmark you will use for the finishing sprint

– Go for home early by gradually upping the rate.

Advice on rowing head racing
Rebecca and Marlene’s best advice for 5 situations in head races