Hockey season is underway and prior to the start of the season, my laboratory was busy determining both regional and total body composition in these athletes using dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Unlike football players, who sometimes present a challenge of scanning them due to the width of their shoulders and upper bodies, or basketball players, who present a challenge due to their height, hockey players present little challenges in the actual DXA scanning of them. So the actual DXA scanning of hockey athletes is relatively simple and straightforward.
However, like all athletes determining body composition with precision is important in hockey. Therefore, we use DXA to determine both total and regional (i.e., arms, legs, trunk) body composition as well as visceral adipose tissue (VAT) levels. To date, we have scanned over 73 male and 55 female collegiate hockey athletes. Since we scan these athletes 2 to 3 times a year (i.e., off-season, pre-season, post-season) we have performed more than 350 DXA scans on collegiate hockey athletes to date. One general observation for both male and female hockey athletes is the size of their upper legs in comparison to the rest of their bodies. Years of skating and dry land exercise targeting the lower body have helped to develop muscular thighs. We pay close attention to the symmetry of both upper legs to make sure they have similar levels of muscle mass.
In 2021, we wrote a paper that appears in the International Journal of Sports Medicine (Dengel et al., 2021) that examined body composition in male and female collegiate hockey athletes. We observed some interesting differences between male and female collegiate hockey athletes. Male collegiate ice hockey athletes showed no significant positional (i.e., forwards, defensemen) differences in either total or regional measures of body composition. In addition, these values did not change across the season. This attests to the level of training that these athletes do during a competitive season as well as the off-season. However, in female collegiate ice hockey athletes, we observed significant position differences in body composition. Defense players more total and lean masses than forwards. These differences in total body and lean masses were also seen in regional composition measures of legs and arms. Even though there were differences in total body mass as well as lean mass there were no differences in total or regional bone mineral density among the positions. In addition, we observed seasonal changes in body composition in female collegiate hockey athletes. This was different than what we observed in the male collegiate ice hockey athletes. These differences in seasonal body composition may indicate possible differences in training regimens during the off-season compared to males.
For a more in-depth look at body composition in male and female collegiate hockey athletes, I suggest you look at these two blogs on the Dexalytics website that we wrote on these athletes. The first blog focused on female hockey athletes while the second blog focused on male hockey athletes.
Since both male and female colligate hockey athletes at the University of Minnesota undergo an extensive testing program that looks at skate performance, we also looked at the influence of body composition on skating performance. The results of this study were published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research (Czeck et al., 2022). One interesting fact was that in both male and female collegiate ice hockey athletes forwards and defense players had similar on-ice skate times. Obviously, skating ability is a big part of both positions whether they are a male or female hockey athlete. In both males and females, the total body fat percentage was correlated with on-ice skate times. Indicating the importance of determining body composition in these athletes and the need for coaches, and trainers to monitor body composition closely in these athletes. For a more in-depth look at body composition in male and female collegiate hockey athletes, I suggest you look at a blog on the Dexalytics website that we wrote on this study.
I believe the main point of this research is the importance of body composition testing in both male and female collegiate hockey athletes. I also think that having a software analysis program such as Dexalytics is key to tracking and monitoring these athletes over the course of their careers. If you have questions regarding this blog post or the original papers that were published on these studies (Dengel et al., 2021; Czeck et al., 2022), that this blog post is based on please contact the corresponding author Dr. Don Dengel (e-mail: email@example.com).
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.
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.