Rowing is one of the most data rich sports that is not data rich. Data is being produced by never recorded and collected in a unified way.

Your data history only begins the moment you begin to record it.

Unlike cycling which collects every last drop of data rowing has been left behind. Rowing is only starting to wake up to the power and potential of data. Whilst it is slightly easier to collect data from a bike due to lack of water getting in the way. Technology is evolving in a manner that is finally allowing rowing to catch up with others.

Data in the boat

There are several data points that the best crews will be measuring to gain speed and find any marginal gain which will result in a win at the NCAA, IRA’s, Henley or the Rio Olympics.

Where will the data come from:

  • GPS
  • Oars/Gates
  • Foot plates
  • Heart Rate
  • Cox Recording

GPS

Knowing the exact mileage that has been done is difficult. We’ve all measured distances on Google Maps/Earth to work out how far we should go. Now with devices like CoxOrb or NK’s GPS Strokecoach coaches and athletes can measure exact distance travelled during a session and their relative speed.

Oars/Gates

Force measures have existed in the sport for a while now through Peech Innovations who are the leaders in measuring telemetry in a boat. However in 2016 there are going to be a few new devices coming onto the market that will allow you to measure force from the gate in different ways. We are really excited that OarInspired, a kickstarter project, is going to be releasing their IntelliGates this year. Another newcomer will be NK who will be releasing a unit to measure force off gates.

Knowing the power produced by athletes and how that relates to their training will become more and more important, to help make decisions about crews. In particular the ways they are rowing.

Foot Plates

In cycling knowing how much force you are exerting with which leg has been measured with crank meters for decades. In rowing we have assumed that we press equally with both legs, however that may not be the case. A company which is leading the way in measuring footplate pressures is BAT Logic. Their system allows you to see what each leg is doing during the recovery and drive phase of the stroke. With this knowledge you’ll be able to set the feet in the right position to maximise power.

Heart Rate

Most athletes now have access to some form of HR monitoring device. These will be recording nearly at all times of the day however on the water it is important that they are training in the right HR zone to maximise the training benefit. The first step in 2016 should making sure athletes have a monitor to help them train in the right zone.

Cox Recording

A question most coaches want to know is whether the cox is getting the message across to the crew. When blasting commands from the coaching launch you don’t know what the cox has said. If you have an interest in knowing what is said then a digital recorder is a must have and a system in place to share recording between coaches and athletes. This will improve development of coxes and crews. A good solution is the CoxOrb cox box which has built in recording so does the job on many fronts.


Rowing has a lot of data on the water but there is even more off the water. Here we will break it into two sections. The first, in the gym and the second, at home.

Data in the gym

Everyone trains in the gym and definitely on the Concept2 rowing machine. Personally I love the RP3 but find the C2 does an excellent job as well.

Where will the data come from:

  • Concept2 Ergo
  • WattBike

Concept2 Ergo

This is everyone’s favourite machine. Its accurate, robust and a great training machine. But there is an issue, its data summary at the end is minimal. There are apps which can record and store your final summary but is this really enough? A product coming to market soon is ErgStick which records every stroke and allows you to review the session, choosing your own data points. This is exciting as it will allow you to finally see exactly what you did.

WattBike

Sometimes you may have an injured athlete who has to sit out the session but is able to train. The WattBike is the perfect machine for injured athletes. It is basically the ergo of cycling. They hate it as much as rowers hate the ergo. The WattBike gives an accurate reading which will let you train at the right intensity which means you have data that can be recorded and used to measure athlete performance, strength or fitness.

Data at home

Away from the boathouse/shed your athletes will still be generating some form of data that will be useful for you to know when deciding on their training.

Where the data will come from:

  • Morning Monitoring
  • Food
  • Readiness to Train

Morning Monitoring

Each athlete is different, they will have different heart rates, perceptions of shape and sleep quality and therefore should only be compared to themselves. This data is important to know if the athlete is ok to train or is about to become ill. Knowing this will allow you to make decisions which can make sure your crews don’t lose vital water time due to overtraining or an athlete being run down.

What you should measure:

  • Waking HR
  • Weight
  • % of Shape
  • Standing HR
  • Hours of Sleep
  • % of sleep quality

For more info read our article about the benefits of collecting morning monitoring.

Food

Somewhere where I think all athletes could gain speed is in their diet, and when I speak of diet its not some special food group that you should focus on. But a diet which consists of the best food for your body. If we think of our bodies as engines, you wouldn’t add petrol to a diesel engine. You’d make sure your engine has the right fuel, and thats why know what food works and doesn’t work when training and performing will give you speed on race day. Writing down what you’ve eaten and comparing to performance could give you an insight you never had.

Readiness to Train

Are you ready to train? Are you athletes ready to train? Is an important question and is something we’ve always used our own intuition to decide. Now you are able to make a scientifically determined decision using several apps, one in particular which we like is Elite HRV. It measures your HR variability and use an algorithm to give you readiness to train reading 1–10. Now you can know if you’re ready to train.


We are expecting rowing to take a leap forward as we are demanding more from the data we produce. For to long we’ve been watching other sports speed past us, now it is our turn.