Variation in Performance Times of Elite Flat-Water Canoeists From Race to Race

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Darrell L. Bonetti
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Will G. Hopkins
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To estimate variability in performance time and smallest worthwhile changes for elite fat-water canoeists competing in 200-, 500- or 1000-m events at international regattas.


The data came from A and B finals held at 7 to 13 regattas in 2003 to 2007. A linear mixed-model analysis of log-transformed official race times provided estimates of variability as coefficients of variation and included terms to account for changes in performance between years, venues, and A and B finals.


For men, the within-athlete variation in A finals was similar in canoeing and kayaking events, with the 200-m men’s events demonstrating probably less variability than the longer events (by an overall factor of 0.75, ×/÷1.33) that may reflect differences in pacing strategies. In contrast, the within-athlete variation for women kayakers in A finals of the 500-m event was only half that of the other distances (ratio 0.54, ×/÷1.29), possibly because of differences in competitive experience or depth of competition. Predictability of performance in A finals was moderate to very high (interclass correlations 0.40 to 0.89). Within-athlete variation in the B finals was generally greater than in the A finals for the three distances for men, but there was no clear pattern for women.


The smallest worthwhile changes in performance time (0.3× within-athlete variability) in canoeing and kayaking are approx. 0.3% to 0.6%. Effects of 1% to 2% in power output would be required to achieve such changes in this generally highly predictable sport.

Bonetti is with the Department of Physiology, Australian Institute of Sport, Bruce, ACT, Australia.Hopkins is with the Institute of Sport and Recreation Research New Zealand, School of Sport and Recreation, AUT University, Auckland, NZ.

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