Nobody can learn to row from a book or from a video.
It’s a sad truth that despite a lot of investment in online training and advice, rowing is one of the few things which anyone benefits from expert coaching, particularly when you first start.
And in case you think I’m biased, I run an online rowing coaching business and we NEVER take on clients who are beginners. We always tell them to join a local rowing club so they can get expert coaching.
In this way rowing is rather like learning to ride a bicycle – you have to experience it for yourself. Learning what rowing feels like is a critical input to your acquiring the skills.
How to find a rowing coach
Getting yourself to a good club near your home is easy – just search for “[Your Country] Rowing Federation” and you’ll find the website for the organisation who runs rowing for your country. They all have learn to row pages which list clubs who offer courses.
Note that adult learn to row and children learning may be listed separately.
Once you’ve found a club, go and meet the people – speak to the rowers and speak to the coaches. A good masters rowing coach has several attributes
- They are good at listening to YOU
- They explain clearly
- You do not feel intimidated by them
- They have a rowing coaching qualification
- They carry insurance
- They have track record teaching beginners
Ask when the club will next be running a learn to row or learn to scull course and sign up to the waiting list. It’s fun to learn in a group with other adults.
Learn rowing faster
After you have completed your learn to row course, the next steps are to practice regularly.
The more often you can row, the more likely you will learn quickly. A great way to learn is to join a group who train together two or three times per week. After three months you will have been out on the water over 20 times and the sculling movements will be familiar, you’ll have worked out a lot of the early challenges (how to feather, ways to stay in time) and you will be ready to start to learn faster.
There are two ways you can learn faster – practice with a more experienced rower in front of you – so you can copy their movements. And secondly, get videoed. If you can have someone video three strokes of you rowing, send it to an expert coach for rowing video analysis. You will get some detailed advice on what you are doing well and not so well and also drills and exercises to practice so you can speed your improvement curve.
Rowing is fun and is frequently challenging – as you get more skilful, you continue to work on the same “Basics” as beginners learn – but you get to execute them to a high level of skill. The more refined and consistent you can make your movements, the faster your rowing skills will advance.
In summary: The coaching focus learning points from this article are….
- You can’t learn to row from a book…
- Learn faster with coaching
- Feedback to accelerate learning