Ice hockey relies heavily on both aerobic and anaerobic energy production systems. However, there is little research determining the relationship between a player's physical condition and individual success in games.
The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between a player's aerobic fitness (VO2max,) blood lactate, and % body fat and total minutes played and net scoring chances.
Players' (n=29) preseason VO2max, lactate at the 4th stage of an incremental treadmill test, and % fat values from the 1999–2001 seasons of a Division I NCAA hockey team, were archived and retrieved for this study. Total minutes played and net scoring chances were used as the on ice performance variables and compared to the fitness measures.
The table shows anthropometric, physiologic, and performance measures obtained during an NCAA ice hockey season.
Lactate at the 4th treadmill stage (r=0.41; P<0.03) and % fat (r=0.39; P<0.03) but not VO2max (r=0.20; P<0.24) were significantly related to total minutes played. Both lactate at 4th stage and % fat entered into a stepwise regression model that accounted for 25% of the variance in minutes played among players (p<0.02). Both VO2max (r=0.41; P<0.03) and lactate at 4th stage (r=0.33; P<0.05) were significantly related to the players net scoring chances, but % fat was not (r=0.10; P<0.57). Only VO2max significantly predicted the players net scoring chances, accounting for 17% of the variance.
These findings suggest a relationship between a player's conditioning level and on-ice performance. Further research that includes a larger sample size and players at different competitive levels is warranted. Seasonal physiological testing may allow strength and conditioning coaches to make individualized modifications to player's fitness regimens in an effort to improve particular physiological attributes.