Kevin Neeld — Hockey Training, Sports Performance, & Sports Science

NHL Combine Testing Results

Last week at Endeavor Sports Performance, my boss left a copy of the 2003 NHL Pre-Draft Combine packet with the test results in my office. I don’t put too much stock in absolute testing numbers (how many future NFLers have been studs at the combine and flopped in the show!). I think it’s more important to look at improvement within an individual. Having said that, I’ll never turn down an opportunity to see how the world’s elite level players are performing.

Other than how archaic some of the tests are, two things really caught my eye:

Average Bench Press (150 lbs): 9 reps
Average Bench Press (Total Weight Lifted/Body Weight): 7.2

Average Vertical Jump Height: 23.6 inches

Compared to other professional athletes, these numbers are alarmingly mediocre.

On a personal note, I’ve never been the best jumper. I remember doing a vertical jump test in a Physiology of Activity class as an undergrad at U of Delaware. In the peak of my hockey shape  I jumped 24″. On a Just Jump Mat at Cressey Performance a couple years back, I peaked at 28.5″, by far my best showing ever.

During my last year in grad school at UMass a professor from another department that also trained at the school gym asked me to do a bodyweight bench press test for as many reps as I could. I was somewhat tired and sore going into the test (if you’ve ever been in grad school, you know that sleep is a commodity infrequently enjoyed). I was around 171lbs at the time, so I did the test with 175lbs, just to be fair. I did 21 reps.

Naturally, it’s not fair to characterize an athlete by two tests, but rest assure that the majority of the other test results were equally as mediocre (with the exception of the average 9% body fat). I think it’s interesting that I’d test in the upper echelon of NHL prospects off the ice.

What’s the point?

Don’t put too much stock in absolute testing values. Your goal should be improvement. I remember a conversation Nick Tumminello and I had a couple weeks ago where he said something like, “It doesn’t matter how strong and fast you are if you suck at your sport.” Those words may be surprising to you coming from a highly respected strength and conditioning coach that has made a career out of training athletes, but he’s right.

You should always be training, but be realistic. If your speed or strength isn’t your weak spot, spend MORE time learning to play the game (power skating, puck handling, seeing the ice, etc.). Hockey development programs need to include a balance of off- and on-ice training.

To your continued success,

Kevin Neeld

P.S. I’m weeks away from launching my new hockey development program. You’ll be blown away by the quality of the content. Stay tuned.

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Kevin Neeld

Kevin Neeld Knows Hockey

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.