Proper Rowing Form: Reverse Pick Drill

Learn to Row

Proper Rowing Form: Reverse Pick Drill

by | Jun 18, 2018

Proper Rowing Form with Total Row

Rowing has always been a sport where form is paramount, and it’s no different at Total Row. Without the proper order, timing, and power, rowing becomes ineffective, and sometimes, painful.

Practicing your form with drills before, during, and after class is one of the most important parts of any training plan. Today, we are going to discuss one of the best drills to perfect the proper order of your stroke: the Reverse Pick Drill!


The Reverse Pick Drill

The reverse pick drill is a variation of the pick drill, which is one of the earliest drills any new rower will learn. Both drills focus on the order of your form during the power phase, and the connection between phases. While a pick drill begins with “arms-only” rowing and works backwards, a reverse pick drill mimics the order of your stroke: legs, core, and arms.

The Drill

A reverse pick drill progresses through each of the 3 parts of our power phase, and links them together. The most important aspect of this rowing drill is understanding the order of our stroke and the connection between each element.

To begin the drill, approach the catch with arms extended, posture strong (back flat with a slightly forward roll), chest forward, and shins vertical. This is the starting position of any proper rowing stroke.

Legs Only

The first phase of our drill is to row “legs-only.” To do this, keep your posture strong and chest forward; we don’t want to engage the core/back or arms yet!

Push your feet into the foot plate as you drive the seat backwards quickly. Feel your feet engaging with the foot plate. We are working on initiating the momentum of our stroke through our legs, rather than engaging the back or pulling the arms.

Stop the stroke when your legs are fully extended, and slowly recover back to the catch. WE ARE ONLY PUSHING WITH OUR LEGS IN THIS FIRST PHASE. Your stroke rate should be low (sub 20 strokes per minute) and controlled.

Complete 7-10 legs-only strokes. Remember to (1) keep your posture strong, (2) your chest down and forward, and (3) your arms fully extended.

Legs and Core (Back) Only

After finishing our leg-only strokes, we want to try connecting the leg and core phases. To do this, start by again driving back through your legs. When your knees flatten, instead of stopping and returning to the catch, we want to carry the momentum through our core and back.

The end of this phase will have your legs extended, core flexed with your shoulders back behind your hips, and arms still straight. It is still important to not finish the complete stroke – we are building up each component.

When you finish the legs and core phases, slowly return back to the catch. Your arms should not bend in this phase! Keep your strokes per minute low, power high, and posture strong. Complete 7-10 more reps here. Your focus during this phase is feeling the connection between your legs and core transition.

Full Rowing Stroke

In phase 3 of 3, you will complete a full stroke using legs, core, and arms. After finishing your final rep of legs and core, start 7-10 more reps of a full-slide stroke.

In this part of the drill, you should notice (1) the drive of your feet into the board, (2) the connection between legs and core to transition the stroke, and (3) your arms naturally bending as we pull the handle into your sternum.

Keep your stroke rate low. We are more focused on developing power and connection, rather than stroke rate. Upon finishing the final strokes of the drill, you can either start over or progress straight into a deeper component of your workout.

Final Throughts

The reverse pick drill is a phenomenal drill for rowers, both new and advanced. It’s perfect as a warm-up, a recovery between sets, or even as part of your cool-down.

Take your time and really try to feel the connection between each part of the power phase. They are distinct, but should all link together smoothly. Give it a shot, and let us know what you think!