Hey there Rebecca , hope you are doing well, I really enjoy your rowing articles in “ rowperfect “ …I’m rowing about 25 miles a week now and I believe my technique is getting much better….however in all the posts I’ve read I have not come across intel on where to properly position your elbows on the power stroke….this morning I experimented with keeping my elbows tight against my body and that really pulls on different muscle groups vs. having your elbows out which applies more stress on upper arms …so I thought I’d ask you, is there a prescribed method of elbow placement ? As always , thanks in advance for all you input, I enter my first competition this fall.
The reason for elbow finish posture
So the physics of the rowing stroke are such that at the end of the stroke (the finish) just before the extraction, you are mostly using your arms.
Sculling finish with elbows at 90 degrees to oar shaft
At this time because of the circular rotation arc which the oar swings through, maximum efficiency to pull on the handle with your arms are to have your hand/forearm at 90degrees right angles to the oar shaft. That’s physics. To achieve this position, we swing our elbows slightly out to the side away from the torso as the oar shaft moves from square off to the side of the boat (mid drive in the power phase) and the handles go through cross-over as it approaches the end of the power phase and before extraction from the water.
If you hug your elbows close to your ribs you find that the angle between your hand/forearm and the oar shaft is less than 90 degrees and that is just not such an efficient pulling position.
Watch this video of a skilful sculler – it’s slowed down so you can clearly see a few technical points.
Here’s another video shot from the other side.
Description of the sculling finish
The essence of the sculling finish is the same as the rowing finish described above. The lower back and pelvis are held firm to provide the fulcrum off which the shoulders and arms work. This is taken from Description of the finish from our 6 part series on the rowing stroke.
The shoulders are opened and then the elbows drawn back past the chest so that the top knuckles, elbows and wrists of each arm form a horizontal line. This requires that the elbows come some distance out from the chest but enables the wrist to be straight and the draw to be applied at right angles to the looms of the sculls.
The handles stop just before the body.