Determinants of maximal outrigger canoe paddling performance

Sealey, Rebecca Maree (2010) Determinants of maximal outrigger canoe paddling performance. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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Outrigger canoe racing is a developing sport in Australia, having been contested for less than 30 years. At present, Australian coaching practice is largely dependent on previous paddling experience, non-scientific literature and methodologies and practices adapted from other aquatic sports. Outrigger canoeing however is unique and warrants specific quantitative assessment to improve coaching practice. Advances in coaching practice may then pave the way for performance enhancement to ensure that Australian crews remain competitive at international competition.

The aim of this thesis was to quantify the demands of 1000 m female outrigger canoeing performance to develop coaching recommendations with respect to crew selection and performance optimisation. In consideration of the overall aim of this thesis, seven research projects were undertaken to: determine the characteristics that predict 1000 m performance; develop a female-specific outrigger canoeing graded exercise test; determine if a 1000 m time trial can be used as an alternative to graded exercise testing; to determine the reliability of and pacing strategy associated with 1000 m performance; and to identify the effect that various, commonly used stroke rates have on performance and the physiological and biomechanical demands of the 1000 m event.

Trained adult female outrigger canoeists (n = 10 to 17) with competition experience of between 1 and 12 years, and who were all currently competing for north Queensland based outrigger canoe clubs participated in the studies. All testing was performed on a rowing ergometer fitted with an outrigger canoeing attachment, within a controlled laboratory environment. Three ergometer protocols were assessed within this thesis, the 1000 m time trial and two variations of a 15 W•min-1 graded exercise test protocol. The graded exercise test protocols were used to determine the peak physiological capacity of the participants, while the 1000 m time trial was used to simultaneously assess peak physiological capacity, the biomechanical demand (technique) and time trial performance ability of the participants. While most studies involved participants self-selecting stroke rate and pacing strategy, the final two studies involved deliberate manipulation of the participant’s stroke rate. All trials were performed with the aim of achieving maximal performance. Across studies, a variety of anthropometric, physiological, biomechanical and performance variables were measured, to reflect the aims of each study. Statistical procedures employed for analysis included repeated measured ANOVAs with post hoc tukey HSD, correlations and regressions, intraclass correlation coefficients, and measurement bias/ratio with 95% (ratio) limits of agreement, with an alpha significance level of 0.05 used throughout.

The results of this thesis are multifaceted. It was established that 1000 m outrigger canoeing performance was predicted by a combination of work-related (power output), physiological (peak aerobic capacity; V  O2 peak) and anthropometric (height, girths, breadths) variables, with mean power output accounting for 97% of the variance in 1000 m performance time. Both variations of a 15 W•min-1 graded exercise test resulted in similar peak physiological responses with V  O2 peak values of 3.17 ±0.65 and 3.03 ±0.58 L•min-1 however, the limits of agreement (1.10) for V  O2 peak across protocols indicated large variability and therefore the same protocol should be used for reliable results. The 1000 m time trial took approximately six minutes to complete, was repeatable (1.5% improvement across four trials), resulted in the same peak physiological response (e.g. V  O2 peak of 3.17 L•min-1) as graded exercise testing, and allowed for simultaneous determination of 1000 m performance time and pacing. The 1000 m time trial can therefore be used to assess physiological capacity and performance simultaneously with a fast start, fast finish pacing strategy providing improved performance compared to other freely-chosen pacing strategies. Further, both laboratory-based (PowerlabTM) and portable (COSMED K4b2 TM) gas analysis systems reliably assess physiological capacity during outrigger canoeing ergometry (intraclass correlation coefficients of 0.87 and 0.69) with the smaller COSMED unit more suitable for performance assessment as it was less cumbersome to wear and therefore less likely to interfere with paddling compared to the large laboratory-based system.

When three commonly-used stroke rates were trialled to assess 1000 m performance, the Australian self-selected stroke rate of 61 strokes•min-1 resulted in a significantly slower time (371 ±38 s, p<0.05) and therefore sub-optimal performance than the slower Hawaiian stroke rate (54 strokes•min-1; 358 ±30 s) and the faster Tahitian stroke rate (70 strokes•min-1; 357 ±28 s). The Hawaiian stroke rate was the least physiologically demanding (lower mean heart rate and V  O2 and lower peak heart rate, lactate and RPE; p<0.05) and was best suited for 1000 m competition across multiple rounds (i.e. heats and finals) as it was least likely to result in a fatigue-related performance detriment. Regardless of the stroke rate used, participants maintained a consistent technique with approximately 60% of stroke time spent in propulsion, that may benefit team paddling synchrony. The fast Tahitian stroke rate resulted in a significantly smaller torso range of motion than the slower Australian self-selected and Hawaiian stroke rates with increasing stroke rate coinciding with reductions in stroke length.

Based on the combined findings of these studies, coaching recommendations for 1000 m female outrigger canoeing crew selection arising from this thesis were to:

1. Select women who are able to generate and maintain high power output throughout a 1000 m time trial. A mesomorphic body stature and high V  O2 peak should also be considered as secondary selection criteria; and 2. Use a 1000 m ergometer time trial to assess both performance and aerobic capacity simultaneously.

Further, the coaching recommendations for 1000 m outrigger canoeing performance optimisation were to:

1. Adopt a fast start and fast finish race pacing strategy; and 2. Use the Hawaiian stroke rate of • 55 strokes•min-1 as it is less physiologically demanding without compromising performance time or technique consistency.

This novel research confirmed that physiological, anthropometric and work-related variables all contribute to 1000 m performance and therefore should be considered when selecting crews. Further, this thesis established four key practical coaching recommendations for the optimisation of 1000 m outrigger canoeing performance of female crews and will provide a solid foundation from which future outrigger canoeing research and practice can be established.

Item ID: 12015
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: outrigger canoes, paddle performance, rowing performance optimization, women canoeists, 1000 m outrigger trials, female athletes, sports health, biomechanics
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Publications arising from this thesis are available from the Related URLs field. The publications are:

Chapter 3: Kerr, R.M, Spinks, W., Leicht, A.S., and Sinclair, W. (2008) Predictors of 1000-m outrigger canoeing performance. International Journal of Sports Medicine, 29 (8). pp. 675-678. ISSN 1439-3964

Chapter 4: Kerr, Rebecca M., Spinks, Warwick, Leicht, Anthony S., Sinclair, Wade, and Woodside, Louise (2008) Comparison of physiological responses to graded exercise test performance in outrigger canoeing. Journal of Sports Sciences, 26 (7). pp. 743-749. ISSN 1466-447X

Chapter 5: Kerr, Rebecca, Spinks, Warwick, Leicht, Anthony, Sinclair, Wade, and Woodside, Louise (2008) Physiological responses to 1000-m ergometer time-trial performance in outrigger canoeing. Journal of Sports Sciences, 26 (11). pp. 1219-1223. ISSN 1466-447X

Chapter 6: Sealey, Rebecca M., Leicht, Anthony S., Spinks, Warwick, and Sinclair, Wade (2010) Reliability of two metabolic systems during sport-specific upper-body ergometry. European Journal of Sport Science, 10 (5). pp. 305-309. ISSN 1536-7290

Date Deposited: 14 Oct 2010 06:08
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110601 Biomechanics @ 20%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1106 Human Movement and Sports Science > 110602 Exercise Physiology @ 80%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920409 Injury Control @ 50%
92 HEALTH > 9205 Specific Population Health (excl. Indigenous Health) > 920504 Occupational Health @ 50%
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