What Is the Best Age to Start Rowing?

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best age to start rowing

If your kids have watched you use your rowing machine, they may want to use it, too, but how do you know when it’s safe for them to do so? Rowing is an intense workout, and the proper form needs to be used to prevent injuries.

How young is too young to start your child rowing?

Many kids start rowing as early as 10 years old, but the average age of children participating in the sport is 12-13 years old. It’s the best age to start rowing because their bodies are more developed, and they’re old enough to learn the basics and understand the risks. They will also be more interested in rowing as a fitness workout and pick it up as a sport.

If you’re anything like me, you have children who watch your every move. My kids follow me while I clean the house, cook dinner, and yes, even when I do my workouts.

I’ve tried to stress the importance of exercise to my kids, and I’m sure you do the same. I encourage them to play or find things to do outside, such as riding a bike and walking to the pond to go swimming, but there are days when the weather or time doesn’t allow those activities.


During rainy days, I would rather they do anything other than watch TV or play video games. So I sometimes try to create my own games where they can walk or run on the treadmill while I’m using my rowing machine. If they complete 30 minutes of exercise, they’ve earned time to do something they want to do. So when my oldest showed an interest in rowing, I was really thrilled.

In today’s article, I’m going to explain the proper age for your kid to start rowing, what you should know about technique, and how to get your kid to participate in team sports.

If you’ve got kids, you will want to read this article for sure!

What Is a Good Age to Start Rowing?

Nearly all rowing clubs will start forming crews that compete in high school, and while children younger than this can row, they aren’t usually allowed to compete.

how old do you need to be to start rowing?

Typically, children start participating in a sport such as rowing in secondary school or Junior High School, so that’s 12-13 years old. Some states only allow high schools to compete or form crews, but most locations will allow you to start training at an earlier age.

Of course, you can allow your kid to use your rowing machine earlier than that, especially if they are tall enough, but you will need to use your judgment on that one. Some children show an interest in sports and/or exercise programs at an early age.

My youngest loved to run from the time he was 3 years old. He would challenge anyone to a race, so it was no surprise when he tried out for cross-country running in high school.

If your children have shown an interest in rowing, but you worry that they may hurt themselves, you can help ease them into the sport by using some of the following tips.

When Your Child Can’t Wait to be Secondary School Age

rowing for kids and weights for kids

If your kid is 10 or younger and simply can’t wait a few more years to start rowing, you can introduce him or her to sports with these tips:

  • Have them do some strength training. Explain how rowing takes very strong legs, glutes, and arms. They can start off using resistance bands if you are worried that they may hurt themselves using dumbbells.
  • Encourage them to start jogging or running as an aerobic conditioning exercise. If you have a treadmill, you can explain that rowers need good aerobic capacity and that most clubs will expect them to be able to row for a minimum of 30-minutes. Have them practice running until they can easily run for 30-minutes nonstop.
  • Proper form is vital to avoid injuries. Begin by taking them through the proper form for each phase. Go very slowly and make sure they’re doing the strokes correctly.

Whether your kids plan on being a part of a crew or simply want to use your rowing machine, proper form and strength training will help them get a headstart on the competition.

Is It Safe for Kids to Use a Rowing Machine?

Oh yes! Rowing machines are terrific for kids! The sport will not only be good for them physically, it will also teach them the value of hard work, encourage healthy competition, and help improve their self esteem.

rowing for children

If you are lucky enough to own one of the newer, connected rowing machines, such as the Hydrow or the Ergatta, your kids will probably be begging you to let them use it! Let’s face it, anything that looks like a video game will probably appeal to your kids!

If your kid shows an interest in your rowing machine, they may be annoyed when you try to coach them into the proper form. You can explain that you want them to row safely, but even then, some kids simply want to do things their own way.

Very young children, say under 10, will probably become bored with a rowing machine after a few minutes. This is typical and you shouldn’t worry. Overzealous parents may sometimes force their children to participate in rowing routines, and this is definitely a no-no.

While we know that rowing is a complete body workout and we love it, kids don’t usually appreciate that. They want to play and do something fun. Give them time and allow them to try the machine anytime they like for as long as they like.

Teach your children excellent form, and if they are still interested, you’re in luck! Give them lots of encouragement and tell them how proud you are that they’re looking after their body. Who knows? They may take up the sport without you even trying and join men’s or women’s teams when they reach the required age.

Is It Safe to Let My Child Use the Rowing Machine When I’m Not Home or Can’t Watch Them?

If they are under 12 years of age, I wouldn’t advise it. No matter how careful you believe your child will be, things happen.

I think if your kid is in the freshman year of high school or around the average age when kids start rowing (12-13), then it’s probably OK, but younger than this, I recommend that you watch your kids to ensure their safety.

The Bottom Line

Rowing is a terrific way for kids to exercise and learn about sportsmanship and teamwork.

Once your children hit their teens, you can feel very comfortable allowing them to join a local crew. Not all children who went into rowing became professional athletes or got the chance to compete in Olympic games, but that shouldn’t stop you from guiding them properly.

With your support, they will learn to work with teams and coaches, participate in sport competitions, internalize the value of health and fitness, and hopefully make lifelong friendships along the way.

What an exciting way for parents to teach children to become future rowers!

Enjoy rowing!

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