My name is Luther Jones and I coach Sport Project Swimming in Prague, Czech Republic.
I have been searching for a device that will enable me to measure various variables of swimming movement: who was doing what, what was she doing, where are the areas of specific movement inefficiencies, how to track the inefficiencies for improvement, when where and how did the efficiencies change with speed and fatigue. I wanted to track my swimmers and play with the question why. SmartPaddle has helped me measure, analyze and manipulate the swimming variables.
I have been using SmartPaddle for 4 months. SmartPaddle has helped me to create my own laboratory for testing my swimmers for swimming movement efficiency. It has also helped me to question and improve my coaching methods. I remember 1 day after observing the path of the hand/arm movement (using SmartPaddle, naked eye and video capture) of the breaststroke I panicked. I looked at the graph and said to myself what have I done. I used 6 long hours for analysis of my swimmer and comparing his data against other breaststrokers. I also searched biomechanical and physiological scientific literature. My research helped me solve my swimmer’s delayed arm movement. Showing SmartPaddle data before and after the trial to change the movement has helped him create a mental picture of when to, how to, and where to self-correct the movement pattern.
Why do you use SmartPaddle?
Our trainings have become more productive. Team sports have team sessions where they prepare for the next game. Swim movement analysis session are our version of it. I have recognized now that the stopwatch has taken a subordinate role, and that my body, my voice and my gestures as learning tools have replaced the stopwatch. Knowing that I am a tool, I have become more aware of my on deck mannerisms and I use my mannerisms wisely and with discretion.
I try to be body part specific when discussing stroke performance. SmartPaddle has caused everyone to be more aware of their swimming body language.
My goal in the usage of the paddles is for the swimmers to be efficient, deliberate and in time to have unconscious movement awareness in the water.
The swimmers who have used the paddles are performing better. They are approaching the pre-race warmup both in and out of the water with stroke specific awareness. They have become more critical of their performance in post-race feedback conversations. The swimmers are using the terms “arm positioning” and “hand speeds” for example. They are not using feel in a generalized manner. These small changes may acknowledge that SmartPaddle is helping them to become more conscious of their movement patterns and how to self-evaluate for better performance.
During training the swimmers are starting to translate strength and movement training exercise patterns to their swimming movement patterns. The swimmers are beginning to understand the chain of events in the movement patterns of their specific strokes. The graphs are helping the swimmers to see the transitions from one phase (muscle action) to the next phase (muscle action) transitions.
How have you used SmartPaddle?
We use the paddles as if we are in a lab environment. As the guide for the swimmers I establish the environment (hard swims, tempo swims, front-end swims, accelerations, dead starts etc.) then either individually or collectively we analyze the results.
The graph measurements help the swimmers to see their actions in milliseconds and to conceptualize a post analysis plan of attack. We use current data analysis and at time compare it to other data graphs to chart progress or change.
All of my swimmers who are using the SmartPaddles are improving in different areas of the racing continuum. Improvement doesn’t always have to be personal best or season best but on the road towards best.
What wouldn’t you give up?
The ability to analyze the variables: power, force, hand depth, hand speed and the moments of time.
What would I improve ? As a coach I would like to test different performance scenarios: tethered swimming, towed swimming, and accelerated swimming at different phases of the arm cycle to name a few. It would be great to have diary capability as a mnemonic. As a tool SmartPaddle will change the sport of swimming. Anyone who has used the tool can imagine what SmartPaddle version8 will be like.