It’s 4:30 am and the shrill of an alarm clock wakes you. It’s time for practice. This is the normal morning for most rowers. It is a norm across teams to practice very early in the morning. For most people who are unfamiliar with the sport this just seems ridiculous. Why would anyone willingly wake up so early to do any sort of physical activity; why not simply have practice in the afternoon or later in the morning. Some rowers take claim to their early morning practice times. They use it as a sort of bragging right to how dedicated they are to the sport. Most rowers however simply accept it as a part of the sport.
In actuality, there are practical reasons for early morning practices. In the morning, just before sunrise bodies of water generally have the flattest water. What it means to have flat water is that there is no chop or what are tiny waves. Wind speed tends to be very little or nonexistent in the early morning. Flat water and little wind are ideal conditions for rowing. Flat water is ideal for practices. It allows for easier balance in the boat. When balance is easy for rowers, it allows focus of practices to be on more minor technical parts of the stroke. When rowers make changes on technique of their stroke, it allows the boat to set up in the water better, and this ultimately leads to more speed. The need for flat water is crucial and agreed upon by coaches and this is ultimately why early morning practice happens most often.
In my opinion, there are also several other factors that influence crews to have practice in the morning. If practice happens first thing in the morning athletes are less likely to be distracted by other events happening in their day. They are more focused on just the task of practice. They are also fresh from rest and often are at their strongest. Early mornings provide the ideal conditions to improve boat speed. In addition to all of the practical reasons, it’s always nice to see the sunrise on the water everyday.