Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Insights Not Just Data

Insights Not Just Data

Designed to provide excellent data to row faster and better, the EmPower Oarlock offers valuable insights that can be used on the water or analyzed later.

The EmPower Oarlock is about six years old. At the time, Michael Naughton, Chief Product Officer for Nielsen Kellerman, stated in a press release: "It will be very interesting to see how coaches will use these measurements to improve their coaching and their crews. But, I also believe athletes training without a coach will be able to use the Empower Oarlock right out of the box to improve their consistency and ability to take those elusive good strokes again and again." Six years on, NK Sports is still very interested to know exactly how this rowing innovation is being used.

Lots of data in the development

Developing new performance technology for rowing innovation is not an easy task. A comparison can be made with cycling, where road surface, incline, wind and other external variables have a bearing on performance along with the characteristics of the cyclists. Same for rowing. Water conditions especially wind and current make measurable differences in performance before considering boat type or rower height and weight plus technique. NK Sports decided that it was time to get more quantitative.

Dr. Valery Kleshnev, author of The Biomechanics of Rowing and Founder and Director of BioRow, partnered with NK Sports in the development of the EmPower Oarlock. The mission of BioRow is to help athletes row smarter and go faster. The focus is on measurements, objective analysis and practical feedback.

"It makes rowing more intellectual, conscious, better control. What we feel is very different from what we really do. This measurement tool is objective."
Dr. Valery Kleshnev referring to the EmPower Oarlock

The EmPower Oarlock used in conjunction with the SpeedCoach GPS Model 2 with Training Pack firmware produces a wealth of data, a rich trove of information for coaches and rowers to mine. Add in the LINK Logbook to pour over detailed data off water. Others have gravitated to the data generated from the oarlock. is a web platform for rowing data created by Sander Roosendaal, along with a blog site Rowing Analytics. The sites focus on detailed analysis and interpretation of rowing data, facilitating athletes and coaches to plan, execute, measure and adjust. It is all about using data to row smarter whether you are a coach or a rower who is self-coaching.

Insights not just data

Not everyone has the time nor inclination to dive deep into all the data generated by the EmPower Oarlock. Selective insights from just some of the data is proving significant and very useful in making boats go faster and achieving the elusive "next best stroke".

Janine Stephens, provincial coach for the Manitoba Rowing Association, uses it primarily to make rigging changes for each athlete. Most of her team row smaller sculling boats, not unlike many Masters rowers. Janine determines better catch or finish angles and develops targets for the athletes to work towards. Alix James, CEO of Nielsen Kellerman, also found it essential to correcting her rigging when her single was returned from a long-term loan. Sometimes a change in technique is required to achieve the desired angles, but often it is as simple as adjusting the feet one notch at a time.

Some coaches and rowers find the slip and wash data especially informative. Anthony Edwards of Decent Rowing provided a video review of the EmPower Oarlock. He found that the best metric is effective length, which is the arc length less slip (what you lose at the catch) and wash (what you lose at the finish). He keeps the SpeedCoach window with that metric open – and could feel himself rowing better. Alix James rows with the Work and Wash data running in her SpeedCoach. When she slumped, there was noticeable decrease in the Work value. When she kept her core strong and upright through the second half of the stroke, the Work value stayed up and Wash value decreased. Her rowing improved without the input of a coach.

For coaches and those being coached, one of the best uses for the EmPower Oarlock is to translate coaching instructions such as "row longer", "finish stronger", or "connect your core to the blade" into quantified targets Coaches can also see data in real-time and make on-water adjustments. This can be especially powerful in larger crew boats. NK Sports put Empower Oarlocks on a collegiate 8+ for one hour to test how the data could be used to make improvements that even a well-trained human eye cannot see. The focus was making all the rowers consistent on the catch angle and finish angle. The results were remarkable. The 8+ beat its previous time by nearly a boat length over 2,000 meters. Same stroke length, same rating, same power.

Matt Muffelman, coach of the 2017 Men's LW 4-, also used the equipment to sync catches. The oarlock data helped him make crew selection decisions. He kept the focus of the workouts simple, finding that too much data was either confusing or distracting.

"I tried to look at the big picture of each practice rather than focusing on a few individual strokes or numbers. Noticing trends of who was regularly the best or worst in certain categories helped me decide who should be sitting in certain seats."
Matt Muffelman

Janine Stephens does not use the oarlocks for long or consistently with any one of her Manitoba athletes. She regularly installs them on different boats and seats, working with the rower until they achieve the desired improvement. She wants her rowers to learn to feel the boat and the water. The data helps develop that knowledge and connection, but she does not want her rowers to become dependent only on numbers to row well. The data is just one part of the equation.

What about you?

Now it is your turn. NK Sports really want to hear from you. How do you currently use or are thinking of using an EmPower Oarlock? Add your comments to this post. Or call or email Charlie Biddle, NK Sports Sales Manager, to share your direct feedback.

Related Products