Relationship of physical fitness test results and hockey playing potential in elite-level ice hockey players
Burr, J.F.; Jamnik, R.K.; Baker, J.; Macpherson, A.; Gledhill, N.; McGuire, E.J.
Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 22(5): 1535-1543
The primary purpose of this study was to determine the fitness variables with the highest capability for predicting hockey playing potential at the elite level as determined by entry draft selection order. We also examined the differences associated with the predictive abilities of the test components among playing positions. The secondary purpose of this study was to update the physiological profile of contemporary hockey players including positional differences. Fitness test results conducted by our laboratory at the National Hockey League Entry Draft combine were compared with draft selection order on a total of 853 players. Regression models revealed peak anaerobic power output to be important for higher draft round selection in all positions; however, the degree of importance of this measurement varied with playing position. The body index, which is a composite score of height, lean mass, and muscular development, was similarly important in all models, with differing influence by position. Removal of the goalies' data increased predictive capacity, suggesting that talent identification using physical fitness testing of this sort may be more appropriate for skating players. Standing long jump was identified as a significant predictor variable for forwards and defense and could be a useful surrogate for assessing overall hockey potential. Significant differences exist between the physiological profiles of current players based on playing position. There are also positional differences in the relative importance of anthropometric and fitness measures of off-ice hockey tests in relation to draft order. Physical fitness measures and anthropometric data are valuable in helping predict hockey playing potential. Emphasis on anthropometry should be used when comparing elite-level forwards, whereas peak anaerobic power and fatigue rate are more useful for differentiating between defense.