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Tips to Step in Your Single


Stepping into a single is one of the more difficult tasks a newbie sculler encounters. Entering your shell from a dock should be done gracefully. Here are tips to practice getting into your single safely:

 First, check that both oars are in the oarlocks, gates closed, and collars pushed against the pins. Feather the blade.

Push your handles toward the foot stretchers until you can touch the tips of the handles together. Butt the ends of the handles together, then draw them back firmly against the oarlocks to stabilize the hull.

 Stand alongside your boat near the sternward end of the seat deck. Bring the seat to the three-quarter slide position, so it will be where you can sit on it. Place your outside hand over the ends of the handles, then, with one foot step onto the seat deck between the tracks. 

Standing on one leg, use the handles to support your body weight by pulling toward you and slightly up. Your other hand can hold the dockside rigger. Bring the other foot into the boat and place it in the shoe as you lower your weight down to the seat, as if doing a one-legged squat.

 You can also step in with both feet and then sit down on the seat. Lower yourself gently.

 To get out, push your handles sternward, butt the handles together again, scoot up the slide, take your feet out of the shoes, put one foot back, stand up on the water’s side leg, and step out on to the dock.

If you are saying to yourself, “That sounds pretty tricky,” begin a land program to improve your coordination, balance, and flexibility to squat. 

Marlene Royle is the author of Faster Masters and Tip of the Blade: Notes on Rowing. She is a specialist in masters training, and her coaching service, Roylerow Performance Training Programs, provides support to improve your competitive edge. For information, email Marlene at or visit

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