Paddling to Victory: The Importance of Practice

We all love racing. We wouldn’t be paddlers if we didn’t love the thrill of the race and the joy of the winning. But yes, it happens. There are at least a few on nearly every team; those paddlers who love the glory of racing (and posting the multiple photos to Facebook while posing with the trophies), but they don’t seem to truly understand how important training and team practices are. They show up to training sessions sporadically and when race selections are announced, they don’t understand why they haven’t been selected for the elite race boat. They haven’t yet connected the importance of regular training and the results gained from it.

Consider another sport for a minute. Can you imagine Michael Jordan never wanting to practice and yet expecting to walk on the court and be able to shoot baskets like an expert, do perfect layups, grab rebounds, and truly synthesize with his team? Sure, we’re not paid to practice and compete the way Michael Jordan is, but if we are going to compete we need to train frequently, properly, and in the most integrated way possible. From what I’ve read about Michael Jordan, he was the first to arrive at practices and often the last to leave. He showed true dedication and commitment to his team and his personal improvement. THIS is the type of dedication and commitment we need on the boat as well.

If paddlers don’t train, they obviously don’t increase their own ability at all. If 20 paddlers were to train individually, sure, they might get stronger, but they would be missing out on the amalgamation of the team. Practice is important. There is a reason we have the saying, “Practice makes perfect.” It’s no secret that it takes all 20 paddlers to be perfectly synchronized in order to win races. This synchronization doesn’t happen without everyone being in the boat together, training as one unit.


Practice IS work. Yes, it is difficult. Yes, it sometimes hurts. Yes, you often need to make sacrifices. Before big races, or in the midst of a campaign for a big race, everyone will have to make sacrifices. These sacrifices may be in the form of foregoing a beer, choosing berries over ice cream, choosing practice over brunch, and so forth. Everyone needs mental-health days, but ask yourself if your choices are helping you to achieve the goals you have as part of the team. Many aspire to make the race boat. The big question is whether you are making choices that will help you achieve that goal.


Growth has no limit.  You will never get to the point where you are too good to practice. There is always another level of achievement you can aspire to. Rather than sitting back and resting on your current achievements, push yourself to be better, faster, stronger. Use your training sessions as a tool to enhance yourself and your team. Don’t put a cap on your own progress.


Contributing author: Sara Jordan


Paddler extraordinaire, Sara Jordan


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Discussion about this post

  1. Gerri says:

    Nice article. Yes practice is very important!

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