Monday’s post presented research that represents what I believe is the first attempt to analyze a connection between various testing measures and actual in-game performance. If you missed it, check it out here: Breakthrough Hockey Training Research
Sticking with the research theme, I came across a few other studies that may interest you.
Whole-body predictors of wrist shot accuracy in ice hockey: a kinematic analysis
Of the three studies I’ll mention today, this is probably the most interesting to those with a primarily hockey background. This study sought to objectify which kinematics (movement patterns) lead to more accurate shooting. They found that shooting accuracy was predicted by coordinated strategies of the lower limbs, torso, and upper limbs. A more generic statement couldn’t be made. That said, they point out that a more in-depth analysis of their data suggests that a more stable base of support, improved ability to decelerate generated momentum, and proper positioning will all improve shot accuracy. For those of us on the performance training side of things, this reinforces the notion that hip stability, core linkage between the lower and upper halves, and proper movement patterns will transfer to improved performance on the ice in both general athleticism (speed, power, etc.) AND more skill-driven abilities.
Significant accuracy predictors were identified in the lower limbs, torso and upper limbs. Interpretation of the kinematics suggests that characteristics such as a better stability of the base of support, momentum cancellation, proper trunk orientation and a more dynamic control of the lead arm throughout the wrist shot movement are presented as predictors for the accuracy outcome.
Single leg stability. Proper hip hinge. Lethal shot.
Prevalence of joint-related pain in the extremities and spine in five groups of top athletes
This study looked at self-reported site-specific pain frequency in 75 male college athletes in a number of different sports compared to “non-athlete” controls. Pain location was identified as cervical, thoracic or lumbar spine, and other major joints such as shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees and ankles. The results from this study were pretty “vanilla”, but I thought it was interesting that hockey players were amongst the most frequent complainers of pain in the cervical region. The neck is a bit of a taboo region from a training standpoint and pain in this area is a red flag to refer out to someone with higher qualifications, but i think many of the non-contact cervical issues hockey players face could be eliminated by restoring extension and acceptably symmetrical rotation range of motion in the thoracic region, and cuing a neutral cervical position in all exercises (and in life in general for that matter). A little bit of education on proper spinal alignment can go a long way for more intuitive and dedicated players. In support of this, the authors noted that pain in one area of the spine was correlated with pain in other spinal regions. This is just more evidence of how the body functions as an integrated unit, and why isolated training approaches simply won’t cut it.
A good set of hands can of hands can go a long way in relieving tension in the cervical spine
Changes in Homocysteine and 8-iso-PGF(2a) Levels in Football and Hockey Players After a Match
This study was designed to assess levels of serum homocysteine and 8-iso-PGF(2a), two markers of atheromatosis (a deposition of lipids on the arterial wall), following football and hockey games. Interestingly, they found that these markers were significantly increased following a game in both sports in college-aged athletes. This is unchartered waters for me so my interpretation of these results can only be so analytical, but the authors suggest paying attention to folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12 balance during the 24-hours following the event. To me, this further highlights the importance of hockey players putting a little more effort into purposeful eating. It’s hard to truly assess whether any athlete is experiencing an activity-related deficiency if their starting point is sub-optimal.
This is broccoli. It’s what scientists call a “vegetable”
Let me know what you think of these studies. Post your comments below!
To your success,
Kevin has rapidly established himself as a leader in the field of physical preparation and sports science for ice hockey. He is currently the Head Performance Coach for the Boston Bruins, where he oversees all aspects of designing and implementing the team’s performance training program, as well as monitoring the players’ performance, workload and recovery. Prior to Boston, Kevin spent 2 years as an Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach for the San Jose Sharks after serving as the Director of Performance at Endeavor Sports Performance in Pitman, NJ. He also spent 5 years as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with USA Hockey’s Women’s Olympic Hockey Team, and has been an invited speaker at conferences hosted by the NHL, NSCA, and USA Hockey.