Raision Urheilijat (RaiSU) is one of the most successful swimming clubs in Finland. Petteri Paatos is the head coach of the club. This blog text summarises his thoughts and observations on deploying SmartPaddle.
Together with RaiSU, Trainesense continues developing the system and scenarios on using it. This is the way the community works: in co-operation we learn faster than working in isolation, and it is also more fun that way.
RaiSU has been using SmartPaddle for 2 months now. The first results of the work start to be visible also in competitions. 4 swimmers from RaiSU have been selected to represent Finland in Junior European Championships. The last selection happened just before the deadline as Roope Paatos swam under the qualification time, only a month after they had started using SmartPaddle. “It is impossible to say how many seconds of the improvement are because of SmartPaddle. It is clear that it had a positive impact. SmartPaddle data has helped me to understand what I do in water and enabled focusing on the correct things.” Roope commented
Getting to know SmartPaddle
“I heard about SmartPaddle a year ago from Finnish Swimming Federation. I immediately got interested, but I have been coaching long enough to be a bit cautious. First I wanted to understand how I would be able to utilize the system” Petteri is telling about his first thoughts about SmartPaddle.
Closer co-operation between Petteri and Trainesense kicked-off when Petteri started planning the program for national team camp in April 2018. He was responsible for distance swimmer group. Target was to organise a clinic where swimmers and coaches would have possibility to learn from each other. “I wanted to see the intracycle speed variation, how it develops over the swimming distance and what is causing it. Especially in distance swimming efficiency is the key to success”, Petteri stated as the target for the measurement.
We concluded that the test protocol would be a race simulation of 200/400 meter swim and we would focus on looking at the continuation of the force and how it develops over the swim. If there were clear gaps in the force or changes in the trend, we clicked to stroke level details to see where the changes were originated from.
“First observations were surprises to me and I was a bit suspicious about the validity of them. Therefore we checked the observations with video and together with swimmer tried making changes to their technique. It all turned out to be true. This experience was convincing enough for me to purchase the system for our club”, says Petteri.
Taking SmartPaddle into use
Both the swimmers and coaches in RaiSU are happy with the experience.
“In force data we do see the same things that we have been observing on video earlier. The difference is that now it is more obvious where to focus: it is clearly visible where the swimmer loses the hold to the water. This has enabled being more specific on the corrective actions”
“The biggest new thing for me has been the capability to see underwater actions in 0.1sec accuracy. The most important events happen underwater and take fractions of a second. Those fractions of a second do have a huge impact: force gap of 0.1sec mean that swimmer is losing roughly 10% of potential propulsion.” Petteri comments on his biggest learnings so far.
The measurements have been done in groups of swimmers. They themselves have recorded each other’s swims, discussed the findings and tried out changes. Coaches have been observing and helping only if swimmers have not been able to progress by themselves.
“Good thing with SmartPaddle is that we can do the measurements whenever we want without preparatory actions. The biggest benefit is the immediate feedback: we don’t need to wait for the documents for weeks. This has enable engaging the swimmers themselves into the analysis. The result has been that they are faster on doing the changes on their swimming. I think in general their knowledge level on swimming technique has been raising a lot during these sessions.”
Plans for the future
“We are happy to continue in the same way as we have started. Swimmers are in a good start to understand how they create force in the water and are all the time more confident on trying different things. As long as they are learning to use their body and muscles, we are not doing too much of wrong things. With the regular measurements we are also quickly able to see if the direction is not correct. Based on the data and trend we will also be able to identify the rootcauses of going to wrong direction.” Petteri discusses the future plans with SmartPaddle.