We recently published a paper in the International Journal of Sports Medicine (Dengel et al., 2021) on body composition measures in over 83 NCAA Division I collegiate male and female ice hockey athletes. There is a wealth of data in the article and I encourage you to read it if you want a more in-depth look at this data on ice hockey athletes.  In this blog post we will examine the male college ice hockey data. In an upcoming companion post, I will focus on the female ice hockey athletes’ data.  

Due to the large number of athletes examined, we were able to place the athletes into one of three position groups: goaltenders, forwards, and defenseman. Each position requires a specific skill set and typically requires certain body dimensions. In this blog post we will examine the data for 49 NCAA Division I male ice hockey athletes classified as goaltenders (n=7), forwards (n=26), and defensemen (n=16). All of these collegiate ice hockey athletes had their body composition determined by dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA), which is considered the “gold standard” for measuring body composition due to its accuracy as well as its ability to measure regional as well as total body composition. 

Total body composition measures of male ice hockey athletes (Table 1).
First, let’s look at the measures of total body composition. In the table below (Table 1) I present the mean (+ standard deviation) as well as ranges for total body composition characteristics for collegiate male ice hockey athletes by position. The only difference among the three positions was height with defensemen being taller than forwards.  There were no height differences between defensemen and goaltenders nor goaltenders and forwards.  All measures for total body weight, fat mass (FM) and lean mass (LM) were similar among the three groups.  In addition, there was no visceral adipose tissue (VAT) mass difference for athletes in the three position groups. There were also no differences in bone mineral content (BMC) or bone mineral density (BMD) among the three position groups. 

Regional body composition measures of male collegiate ice hockey athletes (Table 2).
Since ice hockey athletes utilize a large amount of lower body muscle to skate and perform, we decided to look at regional measures of leg as well as arm body composition. Table 2 displays the regional body composition measurements by position for our male collegiate ice hockey athletes. Similar to the DXA measures of total body composition we did not see differences between goalies, forwards, and defensemen in regards to total mass, LM, or FM in the legs and the arms.  In addition, measures of bone (i.e., BMC, BMD) were not different for both arms and legs among the three positions.

Seasonal changes in body composition (Table 3).
The athletes were also scanned at three different times: pre-season (August-September), in-season (October-March), and off-season (April-July). Given that most male collegiate ice hockey athletes skate throughout the year, it was not too surprising to see that there were no differences in body weight, FM, LM, VAT, and BMD in these male collegiate ice hockey athletes’ across seasons. 

What does it all mean?
The main findings of this study were that male collegiate ice hockey athletes showed no significant differences in either total or regional measures of body composition.  In addition, these values did not change across seasons, which attest to the level of training that these athletes do during a competitive season.

For those that want more detailed information, I refer you to the original paper (Dengel et al., 2021), which this blog post is based on.  I also urge you to read the companion blog post on NCAA Division I collegiate female ice hockey athletes. If you have questions regarding this blog post or the original paper (Dengel et al., 2021), that this blog post is based on please contact the corresponding author Dr. Don Dengel (e-mail: denge001@umn.edu).

Dengel DR, Roelofs EJ, Czeck MA, Bosch TA: Male and female collegiate ice hockey athletes’ body composition over competitive seasons. International Journal of Sports Medicine 42:1313-1318, 2021. 

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.


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