An analysis of the technical aspects of competitive canoe slalom

  • Adam Hunter

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis investigated the technical and tactical aspects of competitive canoe slalom with a view to provide information that could assist coaches and athletes in enhancing performance and designing training programs that are grounded in scientific research. To achieve these goals two methodology projects and five studies were undertaken. A customised competition analysis program (CAP) and standardised set of operational definitions were developed. Assessment of the intra-observer and inter-observer reliability (> 78%) of data gathered using this system was within the limits considered acceptable in previous research. In addition to CAP, a paddle force analysis program was developed (absolute variance = 5.1 N) which allowed analysis and comparison of paddle force data with CAP data. This thesis investigated the distribution and variability of paddlers in each category from historical information. Results demonstrated that athletes within the top ten in each category were grouped based on the category in which they paddled. Men's single canoe (C1M) paddlers were found to regularly complete courses within 105% of the for men's single kayak (K1M) time. Competition performances K1M,C1M and women's single kayak (K1W) were analysed using the CAP. For a complex gate sequence paddlers using a spin rather than pivot manoeuvre had significantly (p <0.05) faster split times for the gates before and after the execution of the manoeuvre. Therefore, specific strategies that were beneficial to performance were identified. To understand further the relationship between strategy and performance, six trials for international level K1M (n = 11) and C1M (n = 6) were digitised for a left hand upstream gate. Results showed that there was a strong correlation (r >= 0.89) between boat trajectory and the total time. The boat trajectory of the fastest paddlers were found to be significantly closer (p <0.05) from the slowest paddlers. The effectiveness of combining paddle force data with CAP data was demonstrated through a case study of a C1M paddler. This amalgamation also showed how the paddler lost time around an upstream gate due to an error, demonstrating the link between the force applied to the paddle, the strategy the paddler used and the path they chose. Paddle shaft length was manipulated in a case study involving 12 repeat sprints on flatwater, to improve factors related to canoe slalom performance. Results showed that the shorter shaft allowed the paddler to accelerate the boat more rapidly, a key factor in canoe slalom performance. Dissemination of information to coaches and athletes is the critical link in any analysis process, which is required for beneficial gains to be made from the information. Presentation of an example report demonstrates how this process was facilitated in this thesis. The findings of these studies were related back to a model of critical variables for canoe slalom showing that this thesis was able to provide scientific information into key intrinsic variables which the paddler can influence including: run time, path taken, mean velocity, strokes used, technique, experience, variability and errors. The interactions of these variables and research findings are discussed, then improvements and future research directions presented.
    Date of Award2010
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMargi Bohm (Supervisor), Keith Lyons (Supervisor) & Bill Maher (Supervisor)

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