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Mahe Drysdale FISA World Cup Single Sculls (1x)

Mahe Drysdale competes in the semifinals of the 2008 FISA World Cup Single Sculls (1x) event held in Lucerne, Switzerland.

© by Michael Steele / Getty Images

Sculling is totally different than paddling a canoe or kayak. It is also not the same thing as rowing a row boat. Sculling, which is a part of the rowing genre of sports, requires balance, timing, coordination, and endurance. Follow these instructions to help you learn how to scull and get you started in the sport of sculling.

Difficulty: Average
Time Required: A few hours to get the hang of it.

Here's How:

  1. Safely Get into the Scull:

    Make sure you are well situated in the scull, with the seat positioned correctly, and your feet properly fastened to the foot boards. Read How To Get Into a Scull to learn more about this step.

  2. Properly Grip Each Oar:

    Position each oar so the concave side of the blades are facing the stern of the scull. Loosely grasp each oar at the end of the grip. Place your thumbs on the outside of the oar and against the side of the grip. Keep your wrists straight.

  3. Get Ready to Scull:

    From the rest position, rotate your wrists SLIGHTLY and roll the oar within your grip so that the oar blades are positioned with the cupped or concave side facing up.

  4. The "Recovery":

    Slide forward in your seat by pulling against your feet and bringing your knees to your chest while leaning forward. At the same time push your your arms forward while keeping the oar blade just inches above the water.

  5. The "Catch":

    Once all the way forward and your arms are fully extended, rotate the oar within your grip so that the blade is turned from facing upward to facing toward the stern or back of the scull. Place the blades in the water.

  6. The First Half of the "Drive":

    Begin to slide back in your seat by extending your legs and starting to straighten your torso. Your arms, while still straight, will pull the oar against the water with the motion of the straightening of your legs.

  7. The Last Half of the "Drive":

    Once your legs are fully extended, continue to pull the oar through the water using your arms. Continue to straighten your upper body through the stroke and until your upper body is slightly past vertical.

  8. The "Extraction":

    At the end of the stroke, push the oar handles down and rotate your wrists SLIGHTLY and roll the oar within your grip so allowing the blade to rotate and slice out of the water. It should now be facing upward.

  9. Repeat Steps 4 through 8

    Sculling is a cyclical activity which goes through the phases of "recovery," "catch," "drive," and "extraction." Repeat as necessary.


  1. Allow the left hand to move above the right hand during the "drive" and "recovery" otherwise your hands and the oars will collide in the middle of the stroke.
  2. Practice rotating the oar blade by extending and retracting your fingers within your hand without major movement of the wrists.
  3. Practice sculling with your legs fully extended at first. This way you can get used to manuevering the oar without having to worry about the timing of sliding your seat.

What You Need

  • A Scull (a boat used in rowing)
  • 2 Oars

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