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

Physiological Demands of Ice Hockey

There are many ways to analyze the physiological demands of a sport, but tracking heart rate (HR) is the most commonly used.

When looking at the HR response during shifts of male Canadian university players, forwards had higher peak and average HRs compared to defensemen. This is consistent with my experience, and speaks to the faster playing speeds and greater number of high intensity efforts forwards accumulate during a typical shift (mentioned in previous posts).

Hockey is often described as a “lactic” sport. When analyzing post-shift levels, Noonan (2010) found that players’ blood lactate ranged from 4.4-13.7 mmol/L. 4 mmol/L is traditionally referenced as the “lactate threshold”, which means thinking of hockey as a lactic sport isn’t wrong, but the wide range of values highlights the individual, positional, and game-demand variability.

Further, it raises questions about whether we should be training players to more heavily rely on lactic metabolism or maximize aerobic power to minimize the amount of work that crosses that threshold.

Feel free to post any comments/questions below. If you found this helpful, please share/re-post it so others can benefit.

To your success,

Kevin Neeld
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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.