WheelPower: wheelchair sports and data science push it to the limit

WheelPower is all about Paralympic wheelchair sports. The Netherlands is one of the leading countries in wheelchair sports science. In WheelPower sports practice and science are blended by years of cooperation between athletes, coaches and academics. Sports practice requests are transformed into more fundamental scientific research, of which outcomes in turn are fed back into sports. WheelPower is more than a good cooperation, it is the mutual ambition of athletes, coaches, companies, medical staff, researchers, lecturers and students, to attain high quality sports directed research. There is a blend of sports and science, of lab and the sports venue, of community level and elite level athlete. .

- WheelPower consortium

The objective of WheelPower is to improve the internal and external power output of athletes in their sport-specific wheelchair to perform better in competition. To achieve this objective the current project systematically combines the three Dutch measurement innovations (WMPM, wheelchair ergometer, PitchPerfect system) to monitor a large population of athletes from different wheelchair sports resulting in optimal power production by wheelchair athletes during competition. The data will be directly implemented in feedback tools accessible to athletes, trainers and coaches which gives them the unique opportunity to adapt their training and wheelchair settings for optimal performance.

The main research question is: what are the performance indicators for optimal power production by wheelchair athletes during competition and how are they improved using continuous performance monitoring, combined with direct feedback? The sub-questions are:
1: How do the power demands, monitored during training and competition, compare to the maximum measured power production capabilities of wheelchair athletes?
2: What is the biomechanically optimal technique for efficient power transfer of the upper-body for the wheelchair-sport specific goals? For instance, how does timing of subsequent rotation of (upper-)body segments affect the efficiency of power transfer when pushing the hand rims, or when hitting the ball with the racket during wheelchair tennis?
3: How does direct feedback on the performance indicators for power production in wheelchair sports actions affect improve the competition performance of wheelchair athletes ?

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WheelPower: wheelchair sports and data science push it to the limit
The Netherlands won 59 medals and finished fifth in the medal standings at the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic Games. TeamNL athletes captured 25 gold, 17 silver and 17 bronze medals. To maintain and even strengthen this position in this rapidly professionalis...
31 October 2022


Sport and exercise