HomeNewsThe Stationary Stability Drill for Rowers

    The Stationary Stability Drill for Rowers

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    With the stationary stability drill, you can master your release and transform your narrow hull into a rock-solid platform–without even taking a full stroke. It is a progression drill for patterning the phases of the stroke (release, feather, arms, body away, return to release) without the blades touching the water. Picture a level across the gunnels. Your aim is to keep your oarlocks even as you move through the stages. Practice in your single or as a crew.

    Start with the square release–sitting at the finish of the drive, legs flat, hands at the center of gravity near the body, wrists flat, elbows out, core stable. Apply subtle force toward the pins and blades, as if your elbows are looking at the pin. Begin tapping the blades halfway out of the water, using your forearms hinged at the elbows. Keep the weight of your forearms and wrists above the handles. Hold your elbows and core steady until you feel as though you’re beginning gently to unweight the seat. If one rigger tips, apply subtle pressure to lower the higher rigger and even out.

    Once you can tap out halfway and stay set, bring the blades all the way out to clear the lower edge. Then release and feather, making sure to come out of the water with blades squared. Keep your wrists flat and the exit and feathering of the blade separate. Do not use your wrists to feather the blade out of the water.

     Do this until stable, and then progress to release-feather-hands away, then to body away. Once you accomplish the pattern with blades off the water, you can transition smoothly to clean rowing.

    Marlene Royle is the author of 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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