The recovery is the part of the stroke where the blade is out of the water, the boat is ‘running’, and the rower prepares for the next stroke. The recovery includes all of the things that you have to do after you finish a stroke, including the following:

  • Rest and relax after a burst of power
  • Prepare the oar and blade angles for the catch
  • Get your upper body and arms in the best position for the catch
  • Get your legs in the correct position for the drive
Use the recovery to your advantage! Move smoothly without rushing to allow the boat do its work while you relax and regain a little energy.

The recovery is a time for all six rowers to sync up, or prepare to sync up, the following:

  1. release of the blade
  2. hands away timing and speed
  3. rock over from the hips and point at which the body angle should be set
  4. start of slide forward
  5. unweighting of the hands to drop the blade in
  6. leg drive

Body positions and execution

The image below shows a rower in the process of completing the recovery.

Each movement overlaps with the previous one to create a continuous motion.
Image courtesy of concept2

To execute a perfect recovery:

Maintain a tall sitting position at the finish and relax the shoulders and neck.

Move the hands straight out and away from the body; move quickly but don’t rush. The back and legs remain steady.

As the hands approach the knees, start to square the blade to prepare it for the catch.

When the arms are almost extended, pivot from the hips to get a forward body angle. The legs stay straight and the body stays tall.

With arms fully extended and the shoulders in front of the hips, glide forward on the seat in a controlled manner until you reach the front of the seat.

You are now ready for the catch. Do not move your arms vertically or change the angle of your back.

Key points

  • Maintain the same hand/handle heights throughout the recovery.
  • Relax the shoulders and keep the back straight.
  • Pivot from the hips; avoid rounding the back or dipping the shoulders.
  • ‘Float’ forward on the seat; do not rush or jerk forward.
  • It is critical that all rowers do the same thing in the same way on the recovery. Following a set sequence of movements during the recovery will allow all rowers to move together, prepare for the next drive, and minimize rocking of the boat.
  • Do not underestimate the importance of the recovery. A smooth recovery will allow for maximum run of the boat when the blades are out of the water and will set you up for an efficient catch and a powerful drive.
A good recovery can contribute to a long stroke. Work on your rock from the hips after you release the blade and move your hands away. This will help you gain length at the catch. Be sure to stay in this strong position as you slide up to the catch – there should be no further forward movement of the upper body after the body angle is set.

Common mistakes

  • Failing to set the body angle early in the recovery
  • Bending the knees too early
  • Rushing forward on the seat, especially the last quarter
  • Lunging at the end of the recovery to get more reach
  • Rushing the recovery movements – they should be quick but should not feel rushed


Drills to develop a good recovery:

  • Pause drills at arms away and at body forward
  • Cut the cake drill
  • Square blade rowing (to take feathering out of the equation)
  • Super slow rowing
  • On the erg – pause drills