Holding your sculling handles properly allows for a better application of power and cleaner extraction at the finish. For good grip, place your thumbs around the ends of the handles with your fingers close to the end and knuckles slightly back from the leading edge. The only contact with the handle should come from your fingers and thumb, but not the palms of the hands. Think of how you hold a suitcase handle, suspending the weight in your cupped fingers without squeezing the handle or making contact with the palm. Watch that you are not attempting to reach too far by allowing the handle to slip out from the cup of your fingers and area under your knuckles. At first, you may need to lift your wrists to square the blades until you can roll them square with your fingers. Use your thumb to keep the handle in the cup of your fingers. As your arms draw to the release, your hands should push down to lift the blades from the water while your wrists drop for the feathering motion. Grip the handles hard enough to keep control of the blades, but not so hard that your forearms cramp. In choppy waters, the natural tendency is to hold on tightly. Resist the urge and keep it light.
Dear Doctor Rowing, I’ve been out of the game for a number of years but have recently begun to row a single. I’ve checked out a number of websites and watched a bunch of coaches on YouTube. Years ago, I learned the legs-back-arms method of applying power and it’s always worked for me. But lately down at the club all I hear is talk of “the core.” What’s with all this emphasis on the core?