When browsing the tube of you recently I found this video of an interview with Connie Draper by Sykes Racing which was really interesting so I thought I’d link it here and briefly post comments on what she said and how it fits with some of the things I’ve talked about before on this blog
The main questions that were raised in the interview and she talked about were
Definition of biomechanics
She describes biomechanics as the objective eye of the coaches, so takes what the coach is seeing/saying and converts that into graphs which make it easier for rowers to visualise what the coach is asking them to do and makes it easier to see the improvement in their own technique. She states they mostly look at forces, power, stroke length as the main parameters.
Advancements in biomechanics
She notes that measuring forces and angles has been around for over 100 years, so it’s not a new thing for rowers and coaches, but now that technology is moving on smaller and simpler devices are becoming available meaning that rowers are getting more comfortable to have devices on the boat at all times, rather than at specific testing moments, and can also include during a race which means more and more data is becoming available to track and then analyse for any improvements to technique.
Testing groups vs individuals
She notes that long term goals and short term goals are equally important, short term its nice to see an elite athlete make a small change to make the boat go slightly quicker, but its also important to look long term and would be interesting to see how someone goes from novice to Olympic athlete as it would help coaching others along the same pathway (something that the developer of Oarinspired mentioned in my recent interview , also as there is no “one way” to row, a range of tested individuals would be useful to see to see if there are “trends” of technique that make a boat fast.
Australian biomechanics compared globally
She notes that really what differs between the rowing nations is where you out your focus on using the biomechanics, so may focus on combining the technical output from the rowing with other measures like erg score, health etc, where as others may focus on boat and oar equipment measurement to make sure their equipment is making them be s efficient as possible on the water.
She notes that at a basic level a stopwatch and good eye/camera is the main thing you need, and it is noted there are many smartphone apps now to help with providing video or even boat motion information, but the most important part is to be as accurate as you can to make sure the data collected is actually useful.
It’s noted that visual feedback is available currently, but audio feedback would be a good future for instructing rowers as they are training. She also notes that at the very edge of cutting edge, biomechanics can be used to select or create boats that more closely match the way the rower is rowing, something that is talked about here and that I touched upon in this post here
All in all a very interesting interview, and it’s nice to see that several things she is talking about are similar to thoughts that I’ve had as well, especially with regards to the future of biomechanics for rowing in making it more open to measure more athletes from novice onwards, to even using the equipment to more accurately match a rower with a specific hull shape/blade type