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Shadow Rowing


Getting feedback rowing indoors is as important as getting feedback rowing outdoors, especially as the mercury drops and our attention turns to the months of erging ahead.

Not all erg work has to be hard. Shadow rowing is one type of technical training that helps you create new patterns in your stroke or build uniformity in team boats. It’s low stress, and you can develop better flow with your partner if you work one behind the other or side-by-side to sync your movements.

You “row” without the handle, make the same motions that you would use in the stroke, and focus on grooving in new habits. This is a valuable exercise when you cannot be in the boat together or connected by slides.

Shadow rowing can be used if you have an active rest day or for mental training when conserving physical energy is important, such as while tapering for races or as part of a land warm up. You can incorporate pause drills to match setting your body angle or focus on your rhythm.

Setting up mirrors in the front, to the side, and at a 45-degree angle to your machine is another easy way to watch what you are doing or record yourself during practice for a quick check of your form, especially when rowing a trial.

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

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