A typical day for the fall and spring seasons

We’re so glad that you have decided to be part of the wwra middle school team. Here’s what to expect from a session in the fall and spring seasons. (Summer camp will have a structure that is a bit more fluid.)

Learning within sections

The goal of each session is to help your child with two interacting themes. Your child will learn rowing mechanics and develop personal fitness. Your child will learn to move as part of a team.


In the preliminary sessions for kids new to the new program, the initial emphasis is on preparatory work on land. Some of the things we have to figure out include – how to hold a blade, how to step into a boat without putting your foot through the thin membrane, which way your blade goes into the gate, how to adjust your stretchers, how to move your body to take a stroke, how to become aware of others around you while taking a stroke. Then we seek a calm, non-windy day to actually try some of this in a boat. The limitation here is, if it’s too windy, Britain doesn’t go out. Safety is paramount.

Much of the emphasis for Britain is on individual mechanics. Much useful learning takes place on the rowing machine in the boathouse. Instructed rowing on the ergometer is a key part of developing basic mechanics.


Kids with some experience of the wwra program get out on the water earlier in the season. Typically these kids have enough of a grasp of the basic mechanics that they can also begin to move as a team on the water. Given developing mental focus, land movements are typically not yet efficient, which limits water time.

Instruction on the ergometer is a key part of teaching the rowing stroke, particularly moving as a team.

New Zealand

Kids who have demonstrated significant skill level at the WWRA middle school program are invited into New Zealand. These kids have made significant progress with basic mechanics, and are able to move as part of a team. They typically display mental focus on land, which translates directly to mental focus on the water. Size and strength are not relevant. Fitness is relevant, as the periods of uninterrupted rowing become longer. If it matches wwra program goals, a few kids are invited to represent the wwra middle school program in an away race.

Instruction on the ergometer remains a key part of adjusting the rowing stroke.

Setting expectations for any one session

It’s important to set expectations for what we can accomplish at any one session

There is a lot we have to do to prepare for every practice: check in, warm up, carry blades, lift boats, carry boats to the dock, place boats in the water, tie in. Everything we do on land is done to enhance and protect the experience of time actually spent on the water. After our row, we dock, carry boats, cool down and stretch and dismiss.

Every practice includes time rowing. Much of our rowing is on the water. Time spent rowing on the water varies by skill level, wind conditions, and efficiency of land movement. For a two-hour session, time on the water can vary from zero to an hour.

Rowing on land (on the ergometer) is a core part of our program – for introductory sessions, when it’s too windy to go out on the water, and when the coaches need to teach stroke mechanics without the vagaries of water conditions.

As we become more efficient at moving as a team on land, we gain time rowing on the water. Inevitably, it dawns on the kids that if they are slow about getting the land movement done, they’re robbing themselves of time on the water. So land movements become crisper as the season progresses.

Every practice provides the child with two hours of experience in learning how to function as a member of a team. ​

Typical schedule – early session

7:30 – 8:15 move launches to dock area, move two octuples and two quads to the dock area bow first, place blades on boathouse floor in pairs
8:10 – 8:15 athletes check in with coaches
8:15 – 8:20 athletes bring down own set of blades to the launch area
8:20 – 8:25 dynamic warm up, coaches confirm lineups
8:25 – 8:30 lineups announced/group overview
8:30 – 8:55 athletes place boats into the water, make ready, launch process
8:55 – 9:40 rowing time
9:40 – 9:55 docking process
9:55 – 10:10 move four boats to dock slings
10:10 stretch and cool-down movement
10:15 dismiss

Typical schedule – late session

10:25 – 10:30 athletes check in with coaches
10:30 – 10:35 dynamic warm up with varsity athletes, coaches confirm lineups
10:35 – 10:40 lineups announced/group overview
10:40 – 11:05 athletes place boats into the water, make ready
11:05 – 11:50 rowing time
11:50 – 12:05 docking process
12:05 – 12:25 move boats, launches and blades to the boathouse
12:25 stretch and cool-down movement
12:30 dismiss


Weather and launching

Rowing is an outdoor sport, so we go out in all sorts of weather. But if it’s just too windy, we stay on land. A useful wind forecast can be found here.

The decision to launch is made on site by coaching staff based on the ability of a crew to launch and land a boat, and to have a productive practice on the water. The decision incorporates technical ability of rowers, rower strength, wind speed, and wind direction.

Depending on wind direction, middle school typically stays on land when the wind is forecast to surpass 15 mph gusting to 25.

A key theme is the prevention of damage to the boat in the docking and landing process. The middle school program does not have spare boats in case a boat is damaged.

Whether on water or land, rower safety is paramount.