Junior Rowing

Rowing is a popular sport with children and young people aged 11+, both on the water and indoors


Rowing for children and teenagers is known as junior rowing.

Where can children and young people learn to row?

Young people can learn to row at a community club, or through their school and or a youth rowing organisation. Supported by British Rowing, Youth Rowing opportunities are increasing across the country, and currently include London Youth Rowing, Warrington Youth Rowing, and East Anglia Youth Rowing as well as other focused youth organisations and charities.

Learning to row at a community club or youth programme often starts with a ‘learn to row course‘, which are usually run in the easter holidays, and also at half term and in the summer holidays. They’ll usually take place over 3-5 consecutive days; rowing every day is a really effective way of building skills – and making new friends – fast.

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What age can children and young people start rowing?

British Rowing encourages schools at both primary and secondary levels to provide children with the opportunity to engage in rowing from an early age. To do this as safely as possible; our Youth Rowing guidance highly recommends that the sport is introduced in phases to young people, offering suitable ways for them to engage and participate as they grow and mature.

Younger primary school children can learn movement literacy skills in PE that will come in useful if they take up rowing later on. These include balance, flexibility, and moving in time with others.

Progression to both on-water and indoor rowing activity and training should be reserved for secondary school ages (11-years old and above). This is mainly because most young people’s musculo-skeletal systems are not strong enough before that. They must also be able to follow safety instructions, and to understand and apply correct technique to avoid injury. In addition most rowing equipment isn’t designed for smaller children.

Most young people who row on water start this in year 9, which is known as ‘J14’ (Junior under 14) in rowing, but they can also start at any time after that and some programmes begin on-water activities from year 7.

Anyone rowing on the water must be able to float unaided for five minutes and ideally swim 50m in light clothing before they can go out in a boat without wearing a buoyancy aid.

What about racing?

Most juniors love racing, and there are age group events for them at most regattas and winter head races. Some competitions are exclusively for juniors; the Schools’ Head (for all junior rowers, not just school clubs), The Scullery Head and Regatta and the British Rowing Junior Championships are national events that attract junior crews from all over the country.  The best junior crews in each region are selected to race at the Junior Inter-Regional Regatta.

The National Junior Indoor Rowing Championships and British Rowing Indoor Championships also attract thousands of competitors each year.

For racing purposes, young people are classified as junior or ‘J18’ if they are under 18 on 1 September preceding the date of the competition.

There is also a development pathway for those who aspire to represent England or Great Britain. As rowing is a late maturation sport, talent identification generally only starts after an athlete has reached at least their 15th birthday.

More information about junior rowing

Junior Rower Development

Stay safe and have fun in rowing

How Much How Often

Guidance around good practice for what training is appropriate at different stages in a rower’s development

Rower Development Guide

All about British Rowing’s interactive online tool for both coaches and rowers


British Rowing policies, best practice guidance and central support for safeguarding children, young people and adults


RowSafe provides safety advice to rowers, clubs, competitions and anyone else who takes part in rowing

England Rowing

Information about the classic and beach sprint England Rowing teams for the Home International regattas and Commonwealth Games

GB vs France Match (J16)

This 1500m head to head race is an annual set of races between Great Britain and France, who each take it in turn to host the match

GB Rowing U19 (Junior) Teams

Information abut the GB Rowing Team programme for Under 19s

The Junior section of British Rowing Plus, our online magazine, contains lots of articles about different aspects of junior rowing.

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Fixed Seat Rowing

Fixed seat rowing takes place in traditional, wide boats with fixed seats that can be rowed on different bodies of water across the country

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