What Is A Crab In Rowing

What Is A Crab In Rowing


In the world of rowing, a “crab” refers to an unfortunate occurrence that can happen during a rowing stroke. It is a situation where the oar gets caught in the water and fails to release properly, causing the rower to lose control and potentially disrupt the rhythm of the boat.

Understanding the Crab

When rowing, the oar blade is inserted into the water during the drive phase of the stroke, generating propulsion to move the boat forward. The power and technique employed by the rower should ideally result in a clean and efficient release of the oar from the water at the end of the stroke.

However, if the oar is not released properly, a crab can occur. This happens when the oar blade gets caught in the water, causing the handle to abruptly stop while the rower continues to move forward. The sudden halt of the handle can be jarring and may even cause the rower to be ejected from the boat or lose balance.

Possible Causes

Several factors can contribute to the occurrence of a crab:

  • Incorrect technique: Improper hand and body positions during the release phase can increase the likelihood of a crab.
  • Imbalanced force application: Applying unequal force with each arm while rowing can lead to an imbalanced release, promoting a crab.
  • Environmental conditions: Rough water or strong crosswinds can make it more challenging to maintain control of the oar during the release.
  • Equipment issues: Damaged or poorly maintained oars can have an impact on the release, increasing the chances of a crab.

Consequences and Preventive Measures

Experiencing a crab can be disruptive to the rower and the entire crew. It can slow down the boat and potentially cause accidents or injuries. To minimize the occurrence of crabs, rowers should focus on:

  • Proper technique: Learning and practicing correct rowing technique, including a well-executed release, can reduce the likelihood of crabs.
  • Physical conditioning: Strengthening the muscles involved in rowing and maintaining overall fitness can improve control and reduce the risk of crabs.
  • Regular maintenance: Ensuring that oars and other rowing equipment are in good condition and properly maintained is crucial to preventing unexpected issues during rowing.
  • Awareness of environmental conditions: Adapting rowing technique and being mindful of challenging water or weather conditions can help rowers maintain control during the release.


A crab is an unwanted occurrence in rowing that can disrupt the flow and efficiency of the boat. By understanding the causes and taking preventive measures, rowers can minimize the risk of crabs and enjoy a smoother and more successful rowing experience.

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