Therefore, it makes no sense to ask an athlete to interval train for the entire off-season and then administer a steady-state VO2 type test.
My early experiences in the
Note: In addition, if testing is performed, strict attention must be paid to form and technique. Do not allow athletes to cheat, as this creates an additional layer of problems.
I believe it also essential that we test ice hockey players on
I'm amazed ( and a bit embarrassed) that it took us nearly twenty years to develop some on-ice tests that make sense and, are easy to administer. My work since 2010 with our United States Women's National Team has really solidified this idea for me.
Think about this. Do you know who your fastest player is or, do you think you know? You only know if you have performed a straight-ahead speed test. In much the same way, a test like the VO2 test does not tell you who is in the best shape, it only provides a physiological profile. As my friend Paul Robbin's once said, “ a VO2 test is a test of what someone could do or might do”. A performance test is like a game. We put athletes on a line and we have them compete against each other not, against a machine.
We have developed three simple on-ice tests that are valid, reliable and easy to administer. We utilize the offensive zones and face-off circles as these are consistent distances in every ice rink ( I would still recommend measuring as we have found slight discrepancies in the goal line to blue distance).
Test 1- Goal line to Blue Line Sprint- think of this as the “hockey 40”.
Test 2- On Ice Lateral Movement- our Women's National Team Coaches asked us to develop an on-ice agility/ lateral movement test that again could be valid and reliable. Kevin Neeld ( US Women's National Team Assistant Strength Coach) developed a hockey specific, on-ice version, of the popular 5-10-5 or Pro Agility test used at the NFL Combine. The test begins on the faceoff dot and is done R-L-R across the circle. The test incorporates both a right and left direction change and is extremely simple to perform. National level females will be sub 5.0 in this test. ( distance covered is 20 yds or 60ft). This test is again reliable as the circles are a consistent 30 feet across.
The Goal Line to Blue Line (x7) test is almost identical to the 300-yard shuttle. We developed this test to mimic what we did in our
Off Ice Testing
If we are going to perform off-ice testing, there are a few key areas of concern. The first revolves around lower body strength testing. Although I am a huge believer in lower body strength, I think coaches need to be careful when testing lower body strength due to the injury risk. Although I consider lower body strength the number one goal for an ice hockey player, I would urge caution in testing. I would particularly caution against conventional double leg tests like the front or back squat. Although we have done these in the past, the injury risk may outweigh the benefit, particularly at the elite level.
Recently we have tested both Rear Foot Elevated Splits Squats and One Leg Squats with our players for 5-10 RM's. If you aren't comfortable with even this, focus lower body testing on the vertical jump and the 10-yard dash.
The only way to improve vertical jump and 10 yd
It is also important to track bodyweight and bodyfat percentage. Young players who are gaining muscle mass may not improve in speed and power,
When testing older players, it is important to note that power is not decreasing. It is very common for older players to focus on aerobic fitness and see decreases in speed and power as they seek to stay “fit”. In order to not “lose a step,” the older player must work diligently to increase or at least maintain speed and power
This is the standard standing two-foot jump. Coaches can use a
10-Yard Dash—I strongly prefer electronic timers for 10-yard-dash timing, since an electronic timer eliminates the margin of error. Electronic timers yield slower times, but the times are far more reliable.
Blatherwick, Jack, Overspeed Skill Training for Hockey, 2nd Edition, USA Hockey, 1994
We do not use electronic timers on
300-Yard Shuttle Run - Conditioning testing should be
To perform the 300-yard shuttle test, athletes run 12x25 yards, rest five minutes and repeat—the score is the average of the two times. We also make note of the differential between the first and second time. This is important, as a fast athlete may be able to obtain a passing score, but have a large differential between the two times. My guideline is to consider differentials greater than five seconds a failed test.
Upper Body Pushing ( Angela Ruggiero with 135 x10)
Many coaches prefer
To test a one-rep max, it is necessary to have an accurate estimate of the athlete's strength. Therefore, do not perform one-rep max tests with athletes you do not coach on a regular basis. To perform a one-rep max, the athlete does two or three warm-up sets with increasing loads. After the initial warm-up set of 5-10 repetitions, the athlete performs single repetitions. The first attempt in a one-rep max test should be done at a weight of which both the athlete and coach are confident. The key is for the bar to descend under control, touch the chest with no bounce and be pressed back to the starting position. This attempt then determines the load for the next attempt.
Upper Body Pulling ( Alex Carpenter w/ 45 x 7)
For upper body pulling, a pullup or
To test bodyfat, we use a Cramer
Lower Body Testing
Rear-Foot-Elevated Split Squats
These are the base lower body strength test we currently use for our players. The first is commonly and incorrectly referred to as a Bulgarian lunge. It is important to note that the exercise did not originate in the Eastern block and is not a lunge. The rear-foot-elevated split squat develops the unilateral strength so necessary in skating, while also allowing the use of heavy loads. The ideal way to load is with dumbbells and kettlebells at the sides. Recently as loads have increased we have moved to the one-leg squat test below.
Like the rear-foot-elevated split squat, a true one-leg squat is also a key exercise we use to develop lower body strength. The one-leg squat is a more advanced exercise and develops the strength of the hips in three planes. Our strongest athletes will routinely use over 225 pounds in a rear-foot-elevated split, but will rarely use over a hundred pounds in a one-leg squat. In the one-leg squat, unlike the pistol, which is done off the floor, these are normally done off a standard exercise bench or