This is the third blog based on a series of studies we conducted on NCAA Division I collegiate male and female ice hockey athletes. The first two blogs examined body composition differences, by position, in 83 male and female NCAA Division I ice hockey athletes. In this blog, we will examine the relationship between body composition and on-ice skate performance times. The information in this blog reflects a recent paper we published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Czeck et al., 2022) on 33 male and female NCAA Division I collegiate ice hockey athletes. There is a wealth of data in this article and I encourage you to read it for a more in-depth look at this data examining the relationship between body composition and on-ice skate performance times.
Total body composition measures of male and female ice hockey athletes (Table 1).
For this study, we determined body composition using dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) in male and female collegiate ice hockey forwards and defensemen. Since goaltenders did not partake in the on-ice skate performance test, therefore their body composition data is not included in this sample. Average total body composition values, as well as ranges, can be found below in Table 1. Both male and female ice hockey athletes showed no differences in total body weight, fat mass (FM), lean mass (LM) or bone mineral content (BMC) between forwards and defensemen.
Regional body composition measures of male and female collegiate ice hockey athletes (Table 2).
Table 2 displays the regional body composition measurements by position for our male and female collegiate ice hockey athletes. Similar to the DXA measures of total body composition we found no differences between forwards and defensemen in regards to total mass, LM, or FM in the legs or the arms.
On-Ice Skate Test (Figure 1).
Athletes also completed an on-ice skate test (Figure below) in full hockey gear. They were allowed to use their hockey stick and always skated in a forward direction. Timing gates were arranged to collect times at 9, 18, 24, 42, 48, 66, 82, 132, and 148 m. To start the test, the athlete stood with both skates behind the goal line and, on command, sprint skated through gates 1 (9 m) and 2 (18 m). At the outer edge of the center faceoff circle, the skater immediately stopped, changed directions, and skated through gates 3 (24 m) and 4 (42 m) to the goal line on the opposite side of the goal net. Once the athlete passed the goal line, they immediately stopped, changed direction, and skate sprinted down the side of the rink, behind the goal net on the opposite end, and back through the starting goal line (148 m). While the athlete skated through gate 9, total skate time was determined at a distance of 148 m. The change of direction between gates 2 and 3, gates 1–4 was defined as change of direction skate time. Gates 5–7 were defined as linear skating times because of the immediate change of direction before gate 5 and the acceleration through gate 7. Athletes were allowed 2 timed attempts, with their best attempt used for data analysis.
There were no significant (p >0.05) differences between forwards and defensemen in on-ice skate times for distance at 9, 18, 24, 42, 48, 66, 82, 132, and 148 m in male or female ice hockey players (Table 3). In examining the relationship between body composition and on-ice performance skate times, we observed no significant differences between the two positions for skate times (p > 0.05). In males, there was a positive correlation between body fat percent (p =0.007; r = 0.55), total fat mass (p = 0.027; r = 0.46), and leg fat mass (p = 0.019; 0.49) and total skate time. In other words the lower the body fat percentage or fat mass the faster the total skate time. In women, we also found a significant positive correlation between body fat percent and change of direction (p=0.022; r=0.54) as well as total skate times (p=0.016; r=0.56)
What does it all mean?
Given that both male and female collegiate ice hockey athletes (forwards and defensemen) had similar on-ice skate times, one can see the premium placed on skating ability. The fact that total body fat percentage was correlated with on-ice skate times in male and female collegiate hockey players shows the importance of body composition and the need for coaches, trainers, and athletes to measure body composition in this sport.
For those that want more detailed information, I refer you to the original paper (Czeck et al., 2022), which this blog post is based on. If you have questions regarding this blog post or the original paper, that this blog post is based on please contact the corresponding author Dr. Don Dengel (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Czeck, MA, Roelofs, EJ, Dietz, C, Bosch, TA, Dengel, DR: Body composition and on-ice skate times for National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I collegiate male and female ice hockey athletes. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 36:187-192, 2022.
About the Author
Donald Dengel, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School of Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota and is a co-founder of Dexalytics. He serves as the Director of the Laboratory of Integrative Human Physiology, which provides clinical vascular, metabolic, exercise and body composition testing for researchers across the University of Minnesota.