Coaches Corner

In the second part of Tim Brabants’ Coaches Corner segment on data and technique the CRNZ coach focuses on the importance of how coaches and athletes can benefit from technology already in their pocket – the mobile phone. 

Several years ago I bought a cheap compact action camera that was very similar to a GoPro, yet no-where near the quality. My brother-in-law was quick to re-name it a “NoPro”. I used to mount it on my boat to try and capture my technique from the front or behind and work with my coach to understand how I could make improvements. He would also use it to film me from either a motorboat or whist cycling along the bank. Now, I use my mobile phone to capture videos of the athletes I coach. The quality is better, it is simple to use and I can send the video straight to the athletes or even review it with them “on water” by playing it back and explaining whatever technical point I am trying to develop. If you want to take a step further, consider downloading an app which you can use really enhance the analysis through drawing lines, measuring angles, side by side comparisons etc.  The two I have used which are really good are “Hudl Technique” (basic version is free and has all the features I need) and “Coaches Eye” (about $9 and has lots of cool features). 

When it comes to training data, I highly recommend “Training Peaks”. It is a really clever system of monitoring and structuring training programs whilst keeping a record of response, results and progression. At first glance it can appear really complicated, but in time starts to make a lot more sense. There are lots of articles on their website to help understand its’ many features and help make the most of it. Primarily designed for cyclists, runners and triathletes, it is easily adaptable to use in paddling. 

The basic version is free and your athlete can keep track of progress easily this way through uploading data from a GPS watch after training sessions, as well as manually inputting data for other sessions e.g. gym training. You can upgrade to paid subscription coach versions and premium athlete versions, which allow the coach to monitor all of their athletes in one place as well as unlocking more features. This can get expensive and in my opinion is really only worthwhile if you use it to its maximum potential. For example, I use the coach version to track the athletes I work with. I put their weekly training programs on it and analyse the data after each session.  I can even “build” the session which then gets uploaded to their watch and will run the start/stop/distance per effort, rest time etc for a whole session. This means you can have a “lap pace” on the GPS watch which can be used to maintain consistency through the session for each effort. Over time, I build a picture of the progression, fitness and recovery to better understand how to adapt training cycles. 

Finally on to stroke rate. There are two free simple apps for a coach to use “Stroke Rate” and “Speaking Strokewatch” to quickly give you the stroke rate of a paddler by tapping on the screen every so-many stroke cycles. I also highly recommend the Vaak’a cadence sensor. A Kiwi made device that fastens to the paddle shaft and transmits stroke rate to most Bluetooth GPS enabled watches or smartphones. 

Image: Vera Bucsu