Making waves with data driven performance


Analytics is the tool of choice for improving performance in almost any field. Used properly, analytics makes obvious differences to elements that influence results. It works in sport and it can work for your business, too.

Last week my sporting club, Manly Dragons, competed in the Australian Dragon Boating championships and WOW what a result!

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Manly Dragons wins 2015 ADBF Masters Championships

Manly Dragons wins 2015 ADBF Masters Championships


Club President, Jeff Hammane put it this way; Well Manly, that does it. 59 paddlers, 38 events, and 75 races covering 33,100 metres of paddling to deliver 3 Bronze, 6 Silver, 8 Gold medals and one Masters Championship. All this from a club that won its first medal only 4 years ago. Beyond awesome.’

This was an excellent result that as a club we are ecstatic about! We are now officially the best Masters club in our sport in Australia. So how have we achieved this in such a short period of time?


  • Individuals have very high commitment to the sport and team. This is undoubtedly the biggest single factor.
  • Excellent coaching. We are fortunate to have a powerful blend of strategic thinking and a disciplined coaching crew.
  • We built on these strengths by using analytics to:
    • ­Help our athlete’s visualise their progress in training throughout the year with our ERG ladder
    • ­Discover and visualise technique differences (See Tableau example workbook below) between paddlers using paddles with built-in Accelerometers and positioning devices.
    • ­Understand and improve team technique in the boat e.g. by using accurate GPS and accelerometer positioning devices for our starts.

The team is justifiably proud of our achievements this year. And I am very proud of our data-driven performance!

ERG Ladder

Club members put ERG test results (how many metres can you paddle in 2 mins on a machine?) into a repository on the team website. We use Tableau Public to display results. This has had a big influence on the behaviour of club members including myself!  We now have an active internal competition working our way up the ERG ladder. Many members test themselves on a weekly or more frequent basis. This is a huge contrast to the minimalist approach most team members (including myself) took previously.


Technique visibility

Manly Dragons has a ‘magic’ paddle that provides amazing data on how a paddler uses the paddle, however, the data is not presented in a useful manner. It is designed by engineers to supply data but its application is not intuitive. Enter Lavastorm and Tableau. Using these tools, I can take the raw data from the product and interpret the data to easily compare power and paddle styles.  An example of how Paddlers can compare and understand differences in their style is included below.