In rowing, the stroke is the action of moving the oar through the water in order to propel the boat forward. The two fundamental reference points in the stroke are the catch where the oar blade is placed in the water, and the extraction (also known as the 'finish', 'release' or 'tapping down') where the oar blade is removed from the water. After the blade is placed in the water at the catch, the rower applies pressure to the oar levering the boat forward which is called the drive phase of the stroke. Once the rower extracts the oar from the water, the recovery phase begins, setting up the rower's body for the next stroke.
The Catch / Start Position
With seat forward begin holding the handle in both hands and your arms straight out in front. Your shins should be vertical and you should have a slight lean forward from the hips
The Drive Phase
Keeping your arms straight and your core engaged so that your upper body is stable, push through your legs into the foot pads, driving the seat backwards.
The Finish Position
Once your legs are fully extended, pull the handle into your upper abdominal area as you lean back slightly. This is now the finish position.
The Recovery Phase
Without rushing straighten your arms and lean forward from the hips, moving the handle towards the flywheel. Slide your seat forward until your shins are vertical.
Images courtesy of British Rowing