Biomechanical Factors Affecting Individuals’ Performance in Sprint Kayaking

Shin, Catherine (2020) Biomechanical Factors Affecting Individuals’ Performance in Sprint Kayaking. PhD thesis, University of Lincoln.

Biomechanical Factors Affecting Individuals’ Performance in Sprint Kayaking
Shin, Catherine - PhD - Sport & Exercise Science.pdf - Whole Document

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Item Status:Live Archive


Sprint kayaking is a complex skill performed in a complex environment. This thesis aimed to identify and assess key parameters of performance and to understand the impact of the equipment used in order to better inform elite-level coaching.

Current elite sprint kayak coaching knowledge was documented through interviews and compared with biomechanics literature. Six mechanical factors were identified as important for performance: water interaction, boat connection, athlete kinematics, stroke rate (SR)/ distance per stroke (DPS), force/power and the influence of weather conditions. Athlete individuality in particular was considered highly important but was under-represented in academic literature. These conclusions informed the subsequent experimental studies, ensuring value to coaches and a positive impact on elite athlete performance.

Force-velocity and power-velocity profiles for an iso-inertial ergometer (n = 39), as well as performance profiles on-water (n = 25), were subsequently created for a group of elite, sub-elite and club sprint kayakers. Power and theoretical maximal force production (F0) were found to differentiate between groups, with elite athletes exhibiting the highest power (elite: 48.5 ± 8.8; sub-elite: 41.0 ± 7.9; club: 38.9 ± 7.2 W·kg-0.67) and force (elite: 17.6 ± 2.7;sub-elite: 14.5 ± 1.7; club: 14.2 ± 1.9 N·kg-0.67). Individual analysis of a subgroup of 18 athletes correlated F0 and V0 (theoretical maximal velocity) with stroke power across multiple trials per athlete. Eight athletes were found to exhibit trends of the group with a statistically significant positive correlation between F0 and stroke power, while for five athletes higher V0 correlated statistically significantly with higher stroke power.

On-water at group level, boat velocity was found to exhibit a stronger correlation with stroke rate (SR) than with distance per stroke (DPS; r = 0.85 vs 0.67). At individual level, DPS showed a higher correlation with boat velocity for eight of the 15 athletes in the subgroup tested, highlighting the importance of athlete individuality, in research and in elite training environments. Combining data from the two environments found strong correlations between power, F0 and boat velocity, indicating the value of this ergometer profiling to understand force and power in a kayak-like movement.

The final study used individualised measures of variability to define whether changes in paddle length on the ergometer resulted in notable differences in performance measured by power, F0 and V0. Changes in paddle length of 1% relative to length normally used by the athlete, equivalent to around 2 cm, resulted in ‘notable’ improvements in stroke power for three athletes and caused changes in F0 or V0 in six of the ten athletes tested.

This thesis developed pertinent research questions based on key variables to performance, as identified from coaching interviews. Large differences were found in these simple mechanical parameters when analysed at individual, relative to group, level. Similar individual differences were found in response to paddle length changes on an ergometer. Based on the thesis findings, a set of recommendations for coaches have been presented, which it is hoped will facilitate the application of the research to improving on-water performance.

Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Sport and Exercise Science
ID Code:44804
Deposited On:05 May 2021 12:06

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