Hold on Loosely

By Rich Davis

Meghan O'Leary and Ellen Tomek at the 2016 Olympics. Photo by Peter Spurrier.

Improper grip is a common problem. Holding the sculls comfortably allows you to more effectively apply power and extract the blades cleanly at the release. Try placing the thumbs on the ends of the handles with the fingers close to the ends. Orient your hands so that the knuckles are slightly back from the leading edge of the handle. Contact with the handles should be with the fingers and thumbs—not with the palms of your hands. Blisters that form on your palms are telltale signs of an improper grip. Think about how you would hold the handle of a suitcase; the weight is suspended in your cupped fingers and you are not squeezing the handle or making contact with your palm. Some scullers keep the boat level by pressing one hand or the other down on the handle to maintain the set up. A better way to keep the boat level is to use the sit bones, leaving the sculls properly in their positions. Outward pressure against the oarlocks helps to keep the boat steady. As you approach the catch, watch that your hands are fully curled around the handle and that you are holding on to the handles with more than your fingertips. Also make sure you are not overreaching and allowing the handles to slip out of the cup, with your fingers under the knuckles. Your grip should be sufficient to keep control of the blades, but not so tight that your forearms cramp up.