Want a better rowing group? Here’s how

Lightweight masters rowers lined up on the dock for a reunion

Hello again Reader

Things that contribute to a robust rowing group over time can be encapsulated in Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Belonging and esteem are part of the list he identified in 1943.

Masters should have a range of ways to contribute to the overall club goals. Another word for esteem is ‘status’ and the way your club group assigns status is a core underpinning of its success. We masters are not all racing demons – young people gain rowing status by winning races; masters gain status by creating a successful rowing group.

Another word for status is ‘social capital’ and this is a helpful concept for community sports.

Status is a prime motivator for doing things for others and society at large. This is a key input for rowing club boards / committees when considering the club’s annual plan. How can you align what you want the club to become with the acquisition of social capital within the group of members?

Masters-friendly clubs

Within your group of rowing friends, think about the behaviours which you like, that contribute to the overall success of your group, and the behaviours you want to encourage. These may include:-

  • Organising workout times
  • Rowing with less experienced members
  • Volunteering
  • Fund-raising
  • Sharing your expertise with others (coaching/mentoring)
  • Showing up regularly

You can think of many more. What are the ways you can reward the people behaving like this and more importantly, show others that the path to becoming a valued member of the group (social capital / status) comes from behaving in this way?

Row faster this year,


P.S. Our recently concluded podcast series on head races has now been saved into a playlist on YouTube. Bookmark it for future reference.

This week’s podcast

What is different about masters’ motivations compared to youth rowers? What contributes to us wanting to show up at the boathouse? Click the image to watch.

Boathouse Chat for the Weekend

Could I get a bit of a survey of what people are charged for private boat racking at their club and whether anyone charges for blade storage (it seems to be becoming reasonably popular at our club for people to have their own set of blades but not their own boat). We have a very tight boathouse and storage is problematic – trying to juggle private equipment and club equipment is a balancing act.

Join the discussion.

Masters motivation – research survey

Dave Houchin is surveying masters rowers to understand how human motivations change with age, with life stage and with years of experience in the sport.

3 minute survey – deadline 12 November.

Please help him by contributing.

Erg Technique vs Boat Technique

This is an extract from our monthly masters rowing magazine. To read the full article, buy a subscription.

There are times in the rowing year when we are forced off the water and onto indoor rowing machines. Although great workhorses and able fitness trainers, most ergs do not fully replicate on water rowing and sculling.

In this article we highlight where you can focus your attention so as to minimise your disruption when moving from one to the other. Taking the best of each and moving it into the other is your overall goal.

Erg technique

On any indoor rowing machine, the way you move your body is not identical to on water rowing. This is especially true if you are a sweep specialist. At its simplest level a “fixed head” rowing machine does not move the same way as a “floating head” machine. Fixed head means the flywheel stays in one place and you move up and down a sliding rail as you row. Floating head means the flywheel moves and your seat also moves (but through a smaller range). The image below illustrates. [CCG = common centre of gravity].

What to watch out for

Typically when moving from a boat to a rowing machine, you find

  • Balance – not needed on the erg
  • Body sequence – identical in power phase
  • Power output – enhanced as more stable on erg
  • Moving with the boat – possible on floating head ergs only
  • Blade handling – rarely incorporated into erg

And so you have choices for your training. Abandon your rowing technique, focus on erg technique and re-learn your sculling / rowing in the boat next time you hit the water. Or try to find a mid-point adaptation for your erg sessions which help you to keep some water technique aspects while training on the erg. In our Faster 5 – Technique article we highlight the four quadrants of the rowing stroke.

What you can do

While training on the rowing machine, there are some things you can work on to ensure you don’t lose your boat technique and fine motor skills…… Read More

Quick reminder – it’s next week

Older Athlete and Aging 2023

Book time in your calendar on 14th November, Reader

Masters are not the same as youth rowers and enjoyment of our sport is not just about our training capacity and recovery needs. We are adults with life experiences, careers and have raised families. All masters need to understand how these affect the coach:athlete relationship and how we learn, set goals and acquire technique and fitness.

Suitable for

  • masters athletes from beginner through to experienced
  • masters coaches
  • club board members and administrators
  • regatta organizers

Now in its third year, this webinar is crammed full of information, advice and guidance from leading experts in masters rowing. Your rowing future will be better informed after attending.


  • Jim Dietz
  • Volker Nolte
  • Derrik Metz
  • Rebecca Caroe

Webinar time 3pm EST; 12pm PST; 8pm GMT; 7am AEDT (15/11/23).

It will be recorded.

Masters rowing photos

Click the image to see more masters rowing photos.

Whenever you are ready….

Here are ways Faster Masters Rowing can help you:

  1. Align your training to your physical capacity with a program
  2. Improve your technique in a single scull
  3. Make your rowing club masters-friendly
  4. Our services for rowing coaches

Need a rowing advisor “in your pocket”? Book your free 20 minute discovery call.

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