Pink Noise in Rowing Ergometer Performance and the Role of Skill Level

in Motor Control
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The aim of this study was to examine (1) the temporal structures of variation in rowers’ (natural) ergometer strokes to make inferences about the underlying motor organization, and (2) the relation between these temporal structures and skill level. Four high-skilled and five lower-skilled rowers completed 550 strokes on a rowing ergometer. Detrended Fluctuation Analysis was used to quantify the temporal structure of the intervals between force peaks. Results showed that the temporal structure differed from random, and revealed prominent patterns of pink noise for each rower. Furthermore, the high-skilled rowers demonstrated more pink noise than the lower-skilled rowers. The presence of pink noise suggests that rowing performance emerges from the coordination among interacting component processes across multiple time scales. The difference in noise pattern between high-skilled and lower-skilled athletes indicates that the complexity of athletes’ motor organization is a potential key characteristic of elite performance.

Den Hartigh, Cox, Van Yperen, and Van Geert are with the Dept. of Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands. Gernigon is with the Dept. of Sport and Physical Education Sciences, University of Montpellier, Montpellier, France.

Address author correspondence to Ruud J. R. Den Hartigh at j.r.den.hartigh@rug.nl.