16 May 2017

More than just a stroke profile? - whats really happening in the boat

For many years the term “stroke profile” has been known to sports scientists, coaches and athletes. It all started with analysis of the force athletes apply onto the oar/paddle. This information is important to measure as it allows us to note the physical strength and power athletes can individually produce. However, the results from that data do not always correlate with the actual results on the water. The reason is very simple, it's more important what you do with the boat than what you do with the paddle or the oar.


To illustrate the point, here are some typical "stroke" profiles:

A rowing stroke:  




Ultimately its the first boat across the line that wins the race, not necessarily the team with the most impressive stroke profile.

Taking this into account, here are some of the ways you affect your boats forwards acceleration:

1. What is the response of your boat to your stroke?

2. How much does the speed of the boat change if you increase or decrease the power at the catch, drive or exit? 

3. What would change if you engage your legs or arms or core during the stroke?

4. How is the air work (recovery/return) affecting the run of your boat?

5. Are your athletes working together or against each other?


We find that every athlete is different in how they accelerate a boat forwards, while most are similar, each athlete has their own signature or finger print. With a little bit of coaching these can be changed and tweaked over time.

Here's two different teams paddling a dragon boat.

In tune with each other Out of tune with each other




These two graphs clearly show the differences in boat acceleration by two teams. The ability to be in tune with each other, constantly accelerating the boat and keeping it running is paramount to efficient speed. With efficient speed comes race wins, just what we all like.

Being able to detect any problems in boat stroke profiles allows the coach or athlete to make immediate, fine tune adjustments. In this particular example it was found that the paddlers had different foot positions and were accelerating the dragon boat independently of each other.

Because our platform allows you to record and display every individual stroke taken, we can then delve into details such as this, the same way most Olympic level training programs do. 

Placing athletes with a similar boat acceleration profile into the same team has great benefits. As a coach, once you know your individual athletes stroke profile, you can team athletes with the same profile together. Each athlete compliments the others and they all work together in the most efficient way possible. 

Do you know what your individual boat response profile looks like?

A Premium membership allows you to answer these questions.

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