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A biomechanical review of factors affecting rowing performance
  1. A Baudouin1,
  2. D Hawkins1
  1. 1Human Performance Laboratory, University of California, Davis, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr Hawkins, One Shields Avenue, Room 275 Hickey Gym, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616, USA;


This review analyses rowing by linking the biological and mechanical systems that comprise the rowing system. Blade force was found to be the only propulsive force to counter the drag forces, consisting of both air drag and hydrodynamic drag, acting on the system. Vertical oscillations of the shell are shown to have minimal impact on system dynamics. The oar acts as the link between the force generated by the rower and the blade force and transmits this force to the rowing shell through the oarlock. Blade dynamics consist of both lift and drag mechanisms. The force on the oar handle is the result of a phased muscular activation of the rower. Oar handle force and movement are affected by the joint strength and torque-velocity characteristics of the rower. Maximising sustainable power requires a matching of the rigging setup and blade design to the rower’s joint torque-velocity characteristics. Coordination and synchrony between rowers in a multiple rower shell affects overall system velocity. Force-time profiles should be better understood to identify specific components of a rower’s biomechanics that can be modified to achieve greater force generation.

  • rowing
  • biomechanics

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