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PHYSIOLOGICAL AREA   

Medicina dello Sport 2021 September;74(3):355-83

DOI: 10.23736/S0025-7826.21.03863-1

Copyright © 2021 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English, Italian

Determinants of flatwater canoeing and kayaking performance: a systematic review

Tania ÁLVAREZ-YATES , Oscar GARCÍA-GARCÍA

Laboratory of Sports Performance, Physical Condition and Wellness, Faculty of Education and Sport Sciences, University of Vigo, Pontevedra, Spain


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INTRODUCTION: Flatwater canoeing is an Olympic sport in which two modalities are differentiated, kayak and canoe. However, the term “canoeing” is commonly used for both, which can give rise to confusion in the scientific literature despite the great differences between modalities. Therefore, the aim of this narrative review was to conduct a systematic search of the scientific literature concerning canoeing and kayaking individually to highlight the main determinants of performance of male and female flatwater paddlers.
EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: A thorough search up to June 2020 has been conducted in Scopus, Sport Discus and Web of Sciences databases for published literature on male and female flatwater canoeing and kayaking.
EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: Male high-level kayakers and canoeists share similar mesomorph structures, with low fat percentages and strong muscled bodies, reporting high values of lean body mass, with kayakers slightly taller than canoeists. In addition, it has also been reported great levels of aerobic and anaerobic capacity together with a distinguished upper-body strength and muscle thickness, especially in arms and shoulders. Female kayakers follow the same trend with lower values than males.
CONCLUSIONS: Canoeing and kayaking successful performance depends on a combination of anthropometric, physiological, biomechanical, neuromuscular, psychological and nutritional factors which differ among specialized kayak and canoe paddlers due their different paddling motor pattern. Hence, the importance of taking into account the specific characteristics and demands of each modality in terms of physical preparation and talent detection of female and male canoeists and kayakers.


KEY WORDS: Athletic performance; Sex; Anthropometry; Physiology; Biomechanics; Neuromuscular manifestations

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