regular practice of river skills. However there are a number of, possibly, less obvious
contributors that will affect an athlete’s performance in a race.
The following questionnaire may be useful in planning preparations prior to the race.
A more general discussion follows.
12.1.1 EquipmentRace and practice equipment should be in good order. The equipment should be
checked that they conform to regulations. Boats should be watertight and have their
air bags properly fitted, practice boats should have the protection they need, paddles
should be checked for stress points and chips. Bouyancy aids, helmets, spraydecks
and cagoules should be checked they are in good condition.
This should all be checked well in advance of the race. Ideally race equipment should
be trialled before the race to check it’s all OK.
12.1.2 Travel and AccommodationDetermine how an athlete will travel to the event. How will all their equipment be
transported to the venue? How will the athlete be transported up and down the river
for practice runs and the race?
If the race involves an overnight stop, where will the accommodation be? Will it have
drying facilities? (if not, more kit will be required). Will it be possible to repair boats
if required? (if not, perhaps a practice boat or more boat protection will be required).
How close is the accommodation to the race venue?
12.1.3 Nutrition and HydrationDecide what food and drink will be required for the lead up and the event day itself.
Will the athlete get suitable carbohydrate meals? Ensure the athlete is well hydrated.
Whenever the athlete is off the water, they should carry a drink bottle with them.
On race day, what breakfast, snacks and drinks will the athlete require? This has
become more pertinent with Sprint racing, as these tend to be long days with 2 runs
often spanning lunchtime.
12.1.4 Course PracticeThe course should be practiced well. The aim is for the athlete to know exactly how
they will do the race.
The athlete should know all the lines they are going to use in the race and, ideally,
have executed them.
Does the athlete understand the nature of the water? Would a higher or lower stroke
rate, greater or less power, be more suitable?
How long is the race? Have markers been identified to divide the race into sectors?
What is the start area like? Will warm-up be difficult? Will moving to the start line be
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Has the start line been practiced? Will the paddles hit the bottom? Will a left or right
stroke be better to start with?
What intensity will be used for the first 15 seconds and then the first minute? When
will intensity change during the race? Do these points relate to the sector markers?
As you can see there is a lot of information to be acquired in, sometimes, very few
practice runs. With a little forethought, however, it is all easy information to gather.
Make sure the athlete tries the start line, make sure they take a watch and time the
runs and so on.
12.1.5 Pre-RaceTypically athletes will want to do a practice 1-2 hours before the race. This is a final
check of lines as well as a ‘loosener’ to wake up. This kind of warm-up is probably
more psychological than physiological but, because of that, is an important aspect of
the pre-race schedule. Athletes should change, immediately after the run, into warm
At the race start area. If the launch area is a long walk from the car park, then drop the
boat at the launch area early so that the discomfort of carrying a boat is done well
before race time.
Make sure a thorough bank warm-up is carried out. This should involve stretching and
running. It may be possible to use resistance aids such as bungies or even a paddling
machine. During this time ensure any toilet requirements are dealt with.
Launch time should be 10-20 mins prior to race start. It is more down to an athlete’s
personal preference, as well as the nature of the warm-up area, that will determine
how long before race start they will launch. However, to do a good water warm-up
requires at least 10 minutes. The water warm-up should be preparing the body for the
intense effort to come. The athlete should keep moving and introduce some intense
ATP efforts. About 2-3 minutes before race start, it is usually good for the athlete to
relax and reduce their nervous level by narrowing their focus on to how they will
move to the start line and how they will execute their start using the knowledge they
gained from practice (will a left or right stroke be used to start? will the paddles hit
the bottom? what intensity will be used for the first 15 seconds and the first minute?).