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Overview​
Welcome to the WWRA middle school rowing program!

WWRA offers a variety of ways for kids in 6th, 7th and 8th grades to learn how to row. We offer a fall program of about six weeks, a week-long session over spring break, a spring program of about six weeks, and a variety of summer sessions of one week each. It’s always a good time to row, and we want to fit into your family’s schedule.

Our approach

WWRA’s middle school program provides an excellent introduction to the sport of rowing. Our program focuses on sculling (where each athlete controls two oars, with one hand on each oar). Because the sculling motion is symmetrical and balanced, sculling is developmentally appropriate for kids’ bodies that are still growing. Sculling establishes sound mechanics for an eventual transition to sweep (where each athlete controls just one oar, using both hands ) in high school.

How we’ll do it

While respecting the weather, the core part of practice time will be spent on the water. The primary team boats used will be the coxed quad and the octuple. 

There will be plenty to do on land. At the beginning of practice we’ll warm up and get limber. We’ll spend a solid amount of time on the indoor rowing machines to get used to the rowing sequence. We’ll learn safe handling of the oars and boats. Some calisthenics may occur (WWRA coaches love planks). At the end of practice, we’ll cool down and stretch.

The program is staffed by professional, certified coaches, who are assisted by student athletes of the wwra varsity program.

No rowing experience is expected or required. We will begin with the basics and work our way up. To create a productive learning environment, rowers will be grouped by experience and skill level.

Attendance

Athletes should plan to attend every session. Absences will directly affect placement in boats, at both practices and races. In rare cases, the coaching staff may choose to exclude an athlete from a race for safety concerns or to respect the experience of other athletes in the boat.

Clothing

Because we’ll mostly be out of doors, athletes are advised to dress for changeable weather. If it’s raining, we will be out in the rain. If it’s windy, we’ll be out in the wind. Loose clothing in the boat is a safety hazard. While in the boats, all athletes are required to wear lycra or form-fitting shorts or tights. Athletes are advised to wear close-fitting layers on the torso. (See separate note on clothing.)

Location

Practice takes place at the WWRA boathouse at the Wayland Town Beach on Lake Cochituate in Wayland.

Planned Content
  • We’ll learn dynamic warmups on land to prepare our bodies for the workout.
  • We’ll spend time on the erg to learn and reinforce essential movement patterns.
  • We’ll watch video to observe rowing movement patterns to emulate.
  • We’ll spend time on the water. The program emphasizes sculling. Sculling, where each athlete handles two oars, provides a symmetrical load on growing backs, and is developmentally appropriate for middle school athletes. Our primary boats will be the octuple and the coxed quad.
  • We’ll be safe. Note that safety is always THE priority at wwra. We will not go out on the water in unsafe conditions.
  • We’ll do circuits involving gravity and our body weight. We will NOT life free weights.
  • We’ll learn post-workout stretches to keep ourselves limber.
  • We’ll have fun learning how to row effectively and safely.
  • It is possible that a very small number of experienced rowers will participate in an away race at the end of the season.
  • We hope that all participants will take the appropriate next developmental steps, and get a sense of the fun that they can have in what can be a life-long pursuit.
    Culture
  • The middle school program is intended to be supportive, vibrant and fun.
  • Coaches will emphasize mutual respect among teammates as a precondition for the privilege of rowing.
  • Coaches will follow safe-sport coaching practices.
  • While the program recognizes that, off the water, girls and boys often congregate by gender, boat lineups will often mix girls and boys.
  • We find that the kids who have the most successful experience in the program are the ones who show up consistently and on time.
Clothing Guidelines

On the Legs
Clothing needs to be close-fitting to the body. These can be long pants, leggings or actual tights. Snug shorts with short inseams are fine. Baggy shorts (such as basketball shorts with long inseams) are NOT okay, as they catch in the tracks and can cause surprise and actual injury. Form-fitting lycra shorts are standard in the rowing community. Really baggy cotton sweatpants are bad, because they’re cotton, and because they’re too loose. Full-length running/trail pants are a good choice.

On the Torso
A top that is snug or close-fitting is important. NO COTTON, please, particularly as days in early spring are often cold, windy and wet. Include a wind- and rain-resistant layer. No open pockets, please, as the extra material can snag the fingers and cause surprise and again, actual injury. Zipped pockets are okay.

On the Feet 
Regular tennis shoes are fine. Most days we’ll run a few minutes and do some calisthenics. Shoes are left on shore while in the boat. Bring an extra pair of dry socks for when we return to the boathouse.

On the Head
A hat with a brim is fine if you want sun protection. A knit hat is helpful in early spring. Please do NOT wear a hood, as it interferes with rowing awareness for the athlete.

For the Eyes
Sunglasses can be helpful to protect the eyes from the water glare. (But it’s also just one more thing to lose.)

On the Hands
Blisters and callouses are a part of rowing life. If hands get too tender it is perfectly respectable to row for a session with very thin gloves while the hands heal and harden. You may want to purchase a pair of thin golfing gloves now so that they’re ready when needed. They also help keep the hands warm on cold mornings. Thick gloves are NOT okay, as the grip tends to slip, and they limit tactile feedback.

Extra Clothes
Athletes will get warm moving around, but when we stop, they will get cold. The boathouse is unheated. So, each athlete should bring a DRY change of clothes in case they want to change into something dry when they return to the boathouse (socks, t shirt, long shirt and pants, perhaps placed in a plastic garbage bag inside the backback if it’s raining). Note that it is useless to put dry layers on over already wet cotton. So please don’t let your kids wear ANY cotton at practice. Shivering in the boathouse is no fun.

Hydration
There is no guaranteed water supply at the boathouse, so bring a filled water bottle for hydration.

And…
That seems like a lot of rules. Rowing is totally fun. We’re glad that your child will row with us!