Better results faster and with less effort

Fast learning with SmartPaddle

SmartPaddle boosts the efficiency of improving swimming technique. The main enabler for that is easy access to details of stroke level details. Biggest reward for us has been hearing swimmer’s comment: “I think I got it, can I try one more time”. The experience has been similar with the best of the world and 10 year old juniors. We want each of you the enjoy the same feeling. 
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It is easy to get started with SmartPaddle and find the most appropriate methods for your training environment. The information on this page is targeted to help you get started. It is based on cumulative experience working with the SmartPaddle users. And the background work done in helping them to become better. 
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The viewpoints for coach and swimmer are listed separately. Both of them have different view on the common work that they do. Easily accessible common data enables both of them learning on their own way and, yet, be able to share the learnings.

Stroke Analysis

SmartPaddle simplifies swimming performance analysis by making visible the rootcause of movement: forward directing force.

SmartPaddle force profile diplays the overall force during the underwater part of the stroke split into three components forward (green), lateral (yellow) and vertical (red).

Why to measure force from the hands ?

The selected approach with SmartPaddle is to measure the movement accurately in the end of the kinetic chain. This makes visible the summary effect of the whole chain. Based on the information it is possible to identify the leakages in the kinetic chain. Instead of trying to isolate the parts of the kinetic chain with measurements, it has turned out to be more efficient for the swimmer to play active role in the analysis itself. When they use their own body to simulate the observations in data, they feel the difference and understand how to apply force more optimally.

Basic rules for efficient force production

The main challenge in swimming is the fact that water is 800 times more dense than air. In practice this means that as soon as the forward directing force level drops, the body speed drops and extra effort is needed to accelerate again.

Human body is not built to create constant force output throughout the stroke cycle: the amount of forward directing force varies and therefore also the swimming speed varies. Getting visibility to force variation enables focused actions on improving the efficiency and speed. The basic rules for analyzing the force profile are

  • gaps in the forward directing force have the biggest impact on the swimming speed
  • consistently increasing force in forward direction maximizes the swimming speed in the end of the stroke cycle
  • the effort can be optimised by minimizing the lateral and vertical components of the force

With these basic guidelines it is possible to make a list of changes to be tried out. With SmartPaddle it possible to do quick trials on different techniques, overlay the strokes before and after the change and learn based on the visible impact of the change.

 

LEARN TO FEEL THE MOVEMENT

Swimmer moves himself in 3D space and controls the movement in the level of tens of milliseconds. All of this goes through their system, but afterwards they have only wake feelings on what just happened. Water as an element makes it even harder. Role of feedback is to help them strengthen the correct feelings.

SmartPaddle records the movement as it happens: movement and resulting force in 3D space. This enables the swimmer to pick the details that they want confirmation on. And for the coach to direct the focus on the phases of the stroke which have the biggest impact on the performance.

A sign of the swimmer understanding their movement better with the information is the fact that when we ask them "what makes makes the force drop in this phase of the stroke", they very often give a precise answer. Their body is full of unattended messages of their execution and when attention is paid to them, they are able to pick those sensations that support the observation.

UNDERSTAND THE FEEDBACK

Usually the swimmers have been told many times what they should do differently. However, there is a difference between hearing and understanding. Not to talk about believing.

The difference on the SmartPaddle information is that there is no explanation needed. The force gaps are immediately visible and with the available information it is possible to simulate the correct movement.  This enables getting directly to the real discussion on what to do about the observation.

Many times swimmers use terms "feel for the water", "feels powerful",  "feels weird". And coaches use terms "high elbow", "fast", "strong". And often they do not understand each other in the same way.  Good thing on measurement in general, and SmartPaddle in specific, is that it provides concrete things to discuss about. And the fact that those are measured facts on the actual human movement make them unambiguous.  The result of the common terminology is that in 10seconds it is possible to exchange more information than in an hour with plenty of explanation. And 10sec is the luxury that the coach and athlete has in between the sets. These short moments make a big difference on the speed and direction of development.

CHANGE YOUR SWIM AND LEARN FROM THE IMPACT

Movement is controlled by movement patterns and finetuned by sensations during the execution. Those happen inside the swimmer's system, and can only be modified by the swimmer themselves. Therefore it is essential to make the swimmer feel the difference between the correct and incorrect movement.

It is seldom that the first trial on changing the movement would be optimal, and it never remains the same after a few repetitions. The only way to optimize the movement is to continue trying and get good quality feedback on the trial. The main thing on the feedback is that it is actionable: helps making the next trial in a more optimal way. Actionable feedback requires that:

  • It is available immediately
    Human memory system flushes 97% of the memories on the movement in 3 minutes. If the feedback is available before this happens, it is possible to bring unattended information to the acknowledged memory and in this way speed-up the learning process.
  • It is easy to understand
    Feedback in practice always means discussion. Therefore it is essential that it is displayed in a format that enables unambiguous interpretation and provides terminology for high quality interaction.
  • It is easy to identify with
    The displayed data needs to correlate with the feelings of the athlete. If they change something, it should also be visible in the feedback. Usually the end result (= swimming speed /laptime) does not immediately correlate with feeling and therefore the feedback information needs to provide visibility to the movement itself.

SmartPaddle system is designed to fullfill these criteria.

MAINTAIN THE FOCUS

We are good on remembering the best and worst things on what we do. This easily lead to hasty conclusions.

A natural tendency for a swimmer is to rely on "the good old habits" when they are stressed or don't focus on the execution. This makes changing a movement an adventure that requires "a map to coordinate".

When new movement is being learned it takes time to see the changes in the end results. In the beginning the variation of the movement will be big: there will be good and bad strokes. In order to see the progress it is essential to get visibility to the average stroke and the variation around it. Having visibility to the nature of variation will enable setting the constraints for the execution to speed-up the progress. Seeing the progress of the stroke level variation will build-up on the change both for the swimmer and coach. 

SmartPaddle automatically calculates the average strokes and enables comparing them to previous recordings. Also the trend is automatically available.

DEVELOP THE CAPABILITY TO LEARN

The swimmers that have been using the SmartPaddle for a longer time have commented that "they modify the curves" when they change their swimming. This indicates that they have stored the SmartPaddle stroke information in their memory system and pick the most suited one for any specific situation. SmartPaddle measurement happens on the same level of detail as the human movement control and after using the information for some time, human mind seems be able to process the information really efficiently.

The fact is that there is hardly a similar stroke in lap length of swimming. As this is the case, it is important to be able to modify the curves and learn to adapt the strokes.

SmartPaddle is a measurement system which can be used in various different purposes. The fact that it is wearable and provides detailed information enables new possibilities for getting insights on the performance.

The listing below is not a complete list. It is only the imagination that sets limits on the usage scenarios. The list is created to provide examples on what are the kind of things that are now possible but have not previously been.

FIRST MEASUREMENT

The quickest way to get started is to record 25m medium speed. The detailed measurement makes visible the typical features of the swim already in 25m. Swimming longer or faster can be used to further validate the findings.

After the swim you get the data visible in seconds into SmartPaddle Analysis Center LIVE view. It displays automatically the average stroke.  

By overlaying left and right hand force profiles, you can quickly see which hand is weaker and where the force drops. With the help of trajectory information, you can identify the location in the hand path at that point.

PROFILING

In many cases swimmers have different techniques when they are swimming with different effort. With SmartPaddle it is possible to make it concrete for the swimmer what happens when they try to increase the speed. 

A test set that has been widely used with SmartPaddle is 4x25 increasing speed: 200 race pace, 100 race pace, 50 race pace, all-out. 100 easy between the recordings. 

From the data you can quickly see the difference between left and right hand, and how it develops when the effort is changed. Another viewpoint to the data is how the force profile changes over the effort: are they able to maintain both the level of the force and length of the power phase. In many cases it happens that a single phase of the strokes starts to dominate when they increase the effort.

RECORDING A NORMAL TRAINING SET

SmartPaddle enables recording the details of a normal training set. The swimmer wears the SmartPaddle during the normal training, the stroke details are tracked during the swimming and data is uploaded after the set is completed.

SmartPaddle automatically recognises the sets, laps and strokes. This enables reviewing how the swimmer executes the set and doing corrective actions. They can be either modifying the set to better fit the purpose, or the swimmer concentrating on the identified topics to maintain the quality of execution.

IMPACT OF WARM-UP

Impact of different kinds of muscle activation and warm-up procedures can be easily compared with SmartPaddle comparison capability. By measuring with and without the the activation procedure it is easy to overlay the strokes, see the difference and compare the data against the sensations of the swimmer.

GROUPWORK BY SWIMMERS

SmartPaddle has been used by swimmers themselves on recording each others swimmer and comparing their performances against each other. Detailed comparison enables getting visibility on how they execute the strokes differently and learning from each other. 

In many cases this has led to a constractive competition between the swimmers on trying to create more force, initiating the force production as soon as possible or extending the power phase longer.

RECOVERY MONITORING

The level of detail in SmartPaddle measurement enables making visible the impact of different conditions. Force measurement on 10ms accuracy makes visible the action of the whole neuro-muscular system.

In many cases the feeling on the water might be different, but by measuring the force profile, you can quickly see if it was only the feeling or are there also visible changes in the technique.

For example, SmartPaddle has been used to monitor

- recovery from overtrained condition

- impact of travelling.and alltitude

- impact of training load on performance details

- performance changes during a multiday competition

Reliable monitoring of details is enabled by collecting reference data and identifying the changes compared to the reference level. Different test protocols can be used, but 4x25 with increasing speed has been found usefull on providing visibility over range of efforts.

IMPACT OF OPEN WATER AND THE WETSUITE

With SmartPaddle it is easy to make visible the impact of different environmental parameters. For triathletes one of the most concrete ones have been the impact of wearing a wet suite or swimming in open water.

The comparison should be started in the pool environment by creating a reference measurement: 200m race pace.

Doing the same measurement in the pool with wet suite enables isolating the impact of that. Usually two things happen with wet suite:

- the floating material easily limits the core activation which is visible in lower force levels and hands extending wider out

- wet suite is tight on the shoulders in recovery which easily leads on shoulder dropping which is visible as negative impulse in the beginning of the stroke

It makes also sense to try out the impact of navigation and swimming eyes shut on the pool. The impacts are various, but usually the asymmetries become clearly visible. And the fact that easily triathletes stop applying water during the navigation stroke. 

When the impact is known in the pool, it is easy to go into open water and do similar recording and compare the strokes against the references from the pool environment.

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