Carlos Dinares TIP # 506: DIRECT feedback in ROWING to ROW FASTER

Imagine how amazing it would be if you had direct feedback of your power application as you were rowing. Getting a visual representation of what you are doing as you row! This is an ideal way to work on getting better and faster at rowing!

This is what the Germans did before the Olympics to win the M8+ and M4x. In these pictures you can see what this system looks like and how it is setup in the boat. In the next picture you can see the effect of the system and how they can improve their power curve with direct feedback.

So, immediate feedback to the rower is essential to change the coordination pattern and improve it. Direct feedback is key for that. As the rower feels, the rower can see the change on the screen and see if that new feel is going in the right direction or not.

For many people, the main attraction in rowing is the permanent quest for the optimal combination of force, endurance and perfect coordination. We know that of these three factors, perfect coordination is the most difficult to train.

In the summer of 1993 Cas Rekers conducted a study with the co-operation of the crew of the Olympic Dutch Holland Eight. A double blind experiment was run to verify the validity of the ROWPERFECT3 as a dynamic boat simulator and to determine the degree of agreement between stroke force/length profiles produced in the boat and on the ROWPERFECT3 dynamic boat simulator.

After an outing in the eight, the crew was asked to row on the boat simulator, at a stroke rate of approximately 30 s.p.m. at standard strokes. The boat simulator then was tuned to give the “feel” of the eight. Each member of the crew were asked to row at a stroke rate of 30 s.p.m. with their eyes closed, imagining they were rowing in the eight. It was shown that after a couple of strokes, each individual reproduced his own curve with high accuracy. A surprisingly big difference however was found between the curves of the different individuals.

Two weeks later at an outing of the Holland Eight, typical stroke profiles of the crew were recorded in the boat at a stroke rate of 33. Also these records were made without feed back to the oarsmen. A very good similarity between the stroke profiles recorded in the boat and on the dynamic boat simulator was found. The actual differences between the ROWPERFECT3 curve and the boat curve per individual were very small.

This is illustrated in this graph, which shows the force- length profile of the 5 seat of the Olympic Holland Eight, both in the boat and on the ROWPERFECT3. From these experiments it can be concluded that there is a very good similarity between the force/length curves on the ROWPERFECT3. The conclusion is that the ROWPERFECT3 is a very useful tool for improving stroke profiles and for eliminating stroke profile differences within a crew.

The stroke profiles recorded with the ROWPERFECT3 training system and software are fully representative for the ones measured in the boat.

So now we know that the force/length curves made on the ROWPERFECT3 coincide very well with similar curves made in the boat, and they give immediate bio-feedback to the rowers. This makes it an essential tool for improving technique and for synchronising crews. The shape of this force/length curve depends on the technique, and gives a clear insight to the coordination between legs, back and arms during a stroke. This force/length curve, therefore, can be used to detect technical flaws, and to diagnose the causes.

The graph above illustrates what can be achieved in terms of improvement of coordination in a short time. This graph shows how deficiencies in the force length curve of a novice sculler have been eliminated in a period as short as 2 months.

So we can see that the Germans developed that expensive system that is not for sale and are getting good results with the use of it. For the rest of us that want direct feedback and don’t have access to a system like that, we can with the use of the Rowperfect3 and it’s direct feedback get a very similar information of our power application as we row.

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