How to select rowing crews using RP3

rp3 force curves

This article will give you additional insight into whether your selected crew seating order is correct or could be improved.

Test 2k weight adjusted

Start off by getting the athletes to do a weight-adjusted and boat class-adjusted 2000 meter test.

Set up the RP3 software to the boat type that you want (8s, 4s etc), note that it defaults to being a Concept2 score which is not what you want in this instance. Use the boat class you will be racing, so if you are selecting an eight put it on the eights setting This will help you in two ways firstly it will in able you to compare directly heavier and lighter athletes and secondly it will allow you to see what possible time the crew could do on flat water given perfect blade technique.

Knowing how fast the boat could go in the actual race is invaluable for a coach.  It gives you a measure against which you can compare your training pieces; your steady state pieces.

Train to the force curve

Once you have got the 2k information then you need to start training the athletes in the force curve and at the watts/splits that

rp3 force curves
See the force curve adjust live

you want.  This is all about the athlete learning how to deliver the power into the curve shape you want applied.  It is also about determining the consistency that the athletes are capable of delivering.  When they first start, you’ll find consistency is lacking.

You can train the athletes towards a force curve based on the template curves saved in the software, you can also help them to determine a curve which they are capable of producing (height and length) and save that as their unique individual curve.  Each time they train, they use their personally saved curve as a template.

Combining athletes into working units

The next part of the selection is about combining athletes into a crew. Start by joining two RPs together using the link bar and

Rowperfect Classic with link bar
Rowperfect Classic with link bar

the optional handle connector. I prefer just to use the link bar at this stage.  Also do not worry about using the software. Just get the athletes to row together and to feel the other person’s movements. This is very easy to feel when the machines are linked. If you choose to add the software in later one and to display a force curve do not worry if the curve is somewhat distorted. By joining two machines together you blend the output of the two athletes.

Doing this you will have learned something about how athletes can row together because you can see what their body movements are like on the linked machines and you also know what power they are capable of delivering from the 2K test.

Your next job is to get them out onto the water in crews. This is the area where the RP3 can only help you indirectly. Handling the oar and having skill at placing the oar in the water is not something you can train on the RP3.

The crew selection

Using all of the data points that you now have:

  • 2K test weight adjusted time
  • average stroke length,
  • average power in watts,
  • the ability to combine with other athletes on linked machines,
  • consistency in delivering a power curve at lower rates and higher rates

You can then have a good idea about which athletes you want to put into the crew. As with all crew selections you need race confidence and a stroke who can set a consistent rhythm and pace, a very strong seven seat who can lead the rhythm for that side of the boat.  It is generally held that the two strongest athletes go into the five and six seats and the less technically skilled athletes go in three and four (I can dispute this but it is a matter of opinion).  The bow pair need to have a very strong blade work skills. You can video the crew and see how each pair of athletes moves together both at steady pace and at race pace and this will give you more clues about which combinations are more and less effective.

Best of luck with your selections.  And if you want to try seat racing – read Duncan Holland’s book on how to do it first.

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