Stroke Rate and it's Importance in 200m Racing Discussion

Stroke Rate:
Simply Put - The number of strokes completed within 1 minute. (where 1 stroke is counted each time either blade enters the water)

But, how does stroke rate affect your performance:

Well, from a Bio-mechanics perspective, the speed of the boat will be determined by the Length of Stroke, the Force applied to the Stroke, and the Speed of the Stroke.

If any one of these elements is missing, or weak, it will effect the boat speed dramatically. Improving on one area, at the detriment of the others, will not give you the improvements in speed that you are looking for!

For example, if you increase the Stroke Rate, but decrease either the stroke length or power as a result, potentially you will work harder, but go slower!

So, how can you increase rate, without affecting boat speed:

i) decrease the air time - Pros: More strokes. Cons: Recovery between strokes does not occur; setting up for the next stroke may be lost; power available to apply to each stroke may reduce.

ii) improve efficiency of stroke in the water - Pros: More Strokes if blade is taken out earlier. Cons: Stroke length can suffer; when tired, efficiency may reduce; at high speeds, improving efficiency may be very hard.

iii) increase pull back speed - Pros: More Strokes; Faster boat speed from the faster pull back. Cons: Takes time to build this power; It may not be possible to maintain the power; Increased Stroke Rate will introduce more fatigue.

What are typical 200m Stroke Rates:

Stroke rate is quite personal, although in our experience, stroke count ranges between 80 and 105 per 200m race. the Top and bottom end of this scale can be quite extreme and my personal race preference is for 90 strokes in K1, K2 or K4.

To illustrate Stroke Rates, I will use my best times, based upon 90 strokes per race.

K1 - 37.1s - 90 strokes = 145 strokes per minute
K2 - 34.2s - 90 strokes = 158 strokes per minute
K4 - 30.6s - 90 strokes = 176 strokes per minute

Given that the World Champions are likely covering the same number of strokes, but in a quicker time, this stroke rate is likely to be in excess of these figures shown.

With specific reference to Vince Fehvari at the 1997 World Championships in Dartmouth, Canada, in the K1 Vince left the start line and pulled out 1 length lead in the first 30-40 strokes. At this time, his stroke rate was showing well in excess of all others in the event.

So, where are you at? Please let us know the number of strokes you complete, and what time you are completing your K1, K2 or K4 races in.
Ladies and Canoes, please provide your feedback also.

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