Energy management using virtual reality improves 2000-m rowing performance

Charles P Hoffmann, Alessandro Filippeschi, Emanuele Ruffaldi, Benoit G Bardy
Journal of Sports Sciences 2014, 32 (6): 501-9
Elite-standard rowers tend to use a fast-start strategy followed by an inverted parabolic-shaped speed profile in 2000-m races. This strategy is probably the best to manage energy resources during the race and maximise performance. This study investigated the use of virtual reality (VR) with novice rowers as a means to learn about energy management. Participants from an avatar group (n = 7) were instructed to track a virtual boat on a screen, whose speed was set individually to follow the appropriate to-be-learned speed profile. A control group (n = 8) followed an indoor training programme. In spite of similar physiological characteristics in the groups, the avatar group learned and maintained the required profile, resulting in an improved performance (i.e. a decrease in race duration), whereas the control group did not. These results suggest that VR is a means to learn an energy-related skill and improve performance.

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