Identifying good and bad technique
The shape of an athlete's stroke profile can be analyzed to evaluate their technique. By comparing an athlete's stroke profile to a model technique, areas of weakness can be identified.
For example, a comparison might reveal an athlete is generating a comparatively low amount of power at the beginning of their stroke. The athlete should then focus on developing a more powerful catch. High Speed Data analysis allows the athlete to track the development of their stroke profile as they implement technique changes.
When it comes to the 'ideal profile', it's generally agreed that the more the profile resembles a square, the better. At the very least, achieving a square profile is the aim of most elite paddlers.
By minimising force peaks and instead developing force evenly over the stroke, the stroke becomes more efficient and is less taxing on the paddler. Sharp peaks in force do little to speed up the boat (the short duration is insufficient to counteract the mass-inertia of the boat and athlete), but these force peaks contribute to muscular fatigue.
These are a number of the things to look for when analyzing a profile:
A steep initial gradient.
This represents immediate connection.
Even force profile during the mid section of the stroke.
There may be a dip in the middle as the athlete transitions from catch to driving and pushing off the blade - this is common.
A sudden drop of power and force as the paddle exits.
The stroke profile shown below is typical of a good paddler. With this being said, there is noticeable variation in the profiles between athletes, even among 'good' paddlers. Please keep this in mind before changing the way an athlete paddles in an attempt to mimic the stroke profile shown below.
The common factor relating 'good' paddlers is the magnitude of their force and power. As long as the athlete is trying to broaden their profile (in other words, maximizing the area under the curve) without applying a greater level of force, the athlete is on their way to a more efficient stroke.