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Perfecting the Pause


Pause for a count of 1-one thousand, 2-one thousand. Row. 

This slight interruption of the stroke cycle gives you the opportunity to stop briefly and check your position. Pause drills can be incorporated at the finish position, arms away, arms away/body over, quarter-slide, half-slide, three-quarter slide. 

Double pause drills incorporate two pauses during one recovery, such as pausing at arms/body away and at one-half slide. Pause drills are a staple of technical training. For example, a pause at arms/body away grooves in various skills, such as a smooth follow-through of the stroke with a fluid release and complete body preparation; setting posture correctly out of bow; maintaining a still body angle once compression begins; keeping weight over the handles with flat wrists; checking the left-hand-leads-the right in sculling; relaxing the slide once the pause breaks; balancing the boat with blades off the water; syncing a crew’s timing out of bow, matching when all knees rise. 

Pause drills can also be part of a strength-endurance session with a focus on single-stroke power through the water, a regular part of your warm-up, or adapted for the indoor rower. Begin a pause drill set by pausing after every stroke for 10 strokes. Next, try pausing every other stroke for 10 strokes. Finally, five and pause—up to five strokes of continuous rowing followed by a one-stroke pause.

Blend the skill you perfected at the pause into your continuous rowing.

Marlene Royle is the author of Tip of the Blade: Notes on Rowing. She specializes in training for masters rowers. 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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