Using a kayak paddle power-meter in the sport of whitewater slalom

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Research Group on Physical Activity and Sports Sciences (GICAFD). Department of Didactic General and Specific Training, University of Alicante
The purpose of this paper was to demonstrate the use of a kayak-paddle power-meter to enhance scientific understanding, quantification of athlete assessment and training prescription in slalom kayaking. Data was collected from a continental-championship race, in addition to the author’s work, which included testing and prescribing training for elite athletes preparing for national and international competition. Results indicate that work rate varies considerably over a competition run (CV=74.4-80.5 %). Intra-athlete performance between two competition runs of one of the leading competitors differed by 1.1% or 0.94 s, while power output decreased by 9.0 % for the fastest run due to an increase in number of steering strokes (11 vs 3). Turning strokes had greater impulse (208 vs 94 N∙s), peak force (362 vs 321 N), and a lower rate of peak force development (810 vs 1925 N∙s-1). Methods to identify biomechanical/technical issues via analysis of force profiles per stroke exhibit bilateral comparisons of strength, while quantification of physical and physiological capability is determined through power output. Training zones are categorised into seven zones (Easy, Threshold, Critical Power, Speed Endurance, Speed and Strength) enabling coaches and athletes to implement specific training programmes targeting key facets of performance. The importance of testing venue is established where river technicality grade (I, II and IV) showed power output at the onset of blood lactate to be 120, 90, and 84 W, respectively. This paper thus supports the efficacy of using a paddle power-meter to enhance scientific understanding of slalom kayak racing through real-world competition analysis capability along with enabling the quantification of training prescription and monitoring based around work rate capability during sport specific testing, in conjunction with technical, physical and physiological qualities.
Kayaking, Power meter, Slalom, Technology
The Journal of Human Sport and Exercise, 2020, 2020, 15 (1), pp. 105 - 118