Can short people row?


Can short people get on a college rowing team?

Absolutely – remember rowing is a power and height sport and so there are places where nearly everyone will fit. (Outside of college teams there are a lot of smaller people).

Shorter Sullivan and Cohen win Olympic GoldShorter Sullivan and Cohen win Olympic Gold

As inspiration – this photo is of Joe Sullivan and Nathan Cohen from New Zealand who won gold at the London Olympics.

They are approx 6 foot tall and you can see how they stack up compared to the other medalists who are around a head taller!

Your choices are

  1. If you are short and light (men under 50 kg and women under 45kg) you could be a coxswain. Those weights are for the TOP coxes – so if you’re within 10 kgs of that weight and have slender hips to fit in a coxswains seat, this could be your spot/
  2. If you are short and less light you should try out as a rower. There are tall and short folks in the rowing crew – one key is flexibility. If you are short and inflexible, it’s a bad combination. So can you easily touch your toes while standing? can you sit on the floor and leaning forward reach your hands past the soles of your feet? can you do the last one with a straight back? Can you bend your legs and squat on the floor with your feet flat or do your heels rise up? What if you have a wider foot stance, can you squat on the floor with feet flat? There are stretching exercises to help improve these…. you will gain stroke length if your body is flexible.
  3. Some colleges participate in lightweight rowing events. These are for weight-limited athletes and a crew maximum weight and crew average weight are specified. By definition, taller folks find these weights harder to achieve. For women lightweights the international standard is 59 kg max and 57 kg average; for men lightweights it is 72 kg max and 70 kg average. Some events have different weight standards.

I’d say join the program as a walk- on, work out if you like the sport and then later decide on your choice.

Go have fun rowing!

This answer was first posted on Quora


Subscribe to our Newsletter for more information:

Our Rowing Network

Did you like this post? Support this blog and our network by donating

Feel like Rowing again? Visit the Shop at!

Accessories, equipment, boats, clothing

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Whether it’s sports, nutrition or equipment, you’ll find what you’re looking for in one of these categories


Everything about rowing – browse through our large archive or search for articles of your choice


Search Blog


Rowing Network

Do you like our posts? Support this blog and our network by donating


Get all latest content and news!