Hockey is a unique sport due to the playing surface being made of ice, and thus requiring athletes to develop locomotor and change of direction ability on skates. In addition, hockey involves frequent body collision, high intensity sprints, decelerations and acceleration over the course of a 45 s – 1 min shift, repeated for three 20 minute periods. The unique nature of hockey has made it difficult to develop off-ice performance testing and training programs to evaluate player potential and guide effective training programs.
Ice time is limited for teams to train on and therefore off-ice training and testing is required to prepare athletes for the physical demands of the sport. Devoting time to performance testing on the ice takes away from technical, tactical and conditioning components of practice. Therefore, it would be useful for coaches to have a battery of off-ice performance testing they can implement to predict on-ice performance and thus save valuable ice time for practice.
A new study published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine compared a series of anthropometric and off-ice performance variables to on-ice performance indicators in 26 collegiate male and female hockey players. The on-ice tests included agility cornering S-turn, 6 meter acceleration, 45 and 15 meter sprint, repeat skate ability. Variables used to try and predict on-ice performance included; years of playing experience, height, weight, percent body fat, vertical jump, 40 yard dash, 1-RM squat, pro-agility, Wingate (peak power and percent drop), and 1.5 mile run.
The results showed that 40 yard dash, vertical jump, 1.5 mile run and % drop of peak power from Wingate testing were each significant predictors of repeat skate performance and/or 45 meter sprint speed. The authors provide regression equations that can be used to predict on-ice performance for the select variables. These results suggest that on-ice performance can be reasonably predicted with off-ice performance tests. This may allow coaches to use precious ice time to focus on technical, tactical and conditioning development as opposed to spending valuable time on testing.
Jeffrey M. Janot, Nicholas M. Beltz, Lance D. Dalleck, (2015) Multiple Off-Ice Performance Variables Predict On-Ice Skating Performance in Male and Female Division III Ice Hockey Players. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (14), 522 – 529