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Rowing Terminology

Updated: Aug 22, 2021

Rowing- The Ultimate Sport

A Brief Intro to RowingTerminology

Welcome to the sport of competitive rowing! If your family has recently become involved in crew, you have probably heard some terms that you aren't familiar with. This guide was put together some years ago by other rower parents and is a good place to start to familiarize yourself with some of the terms you will hear from your kid or around the boathouse.






Bow: The forward section of the boat. The first part of the boat to cross the finish line.

Catch: The beginning of the stroke when the blade enters the water. The rower is fully compressed (knees bent, arms reaching forward) and the seat is forward on the slide. The blade is fully “squared” (perpendicular) to the water at this time.



Coxswain “Cox”: Person who steers the shell. He/She is the on-the-water coach for the crew.



Cox box: An electronic device used by coxswains, consisting of a headset microphone and speakers located through the shell which the cox gives commands to the crew.  Connected to sensors under a sliding seat, the cox box has readouts that can show speed, stroke rating, number of strokes and time rowed.

Crab (“Catching a Crab”): A stroke that goes bad. The oar blade slices into the water at an angle and gets caught under the surface.



Drive: The part of the stroke cycle where the Rower applies power to the oar. This consists primarily of the leg drive, then straightening the back, and finally pulling in the arms. Most of the power in the stroke is accomplished during the leg drive.



Ergometer (ERG): Is a rowing machine that closely approximates the actual rowing motion. The ERGs available to GBCC/Grassfield are Concept II model, which utilizes a flywheel and a digital readout so that the rower can measure strokes per minute and distance covered.