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Reliability of Three Timing Systems Used to Time Short on Ice-Skating Sprints in Ice Hockey Players

Bond, Colin W.1; Willaert, Emily M.1; Rudningen, Kyle E.2,3; Noonan, Benjamin C.1,3,4

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: December 2017 - Volume 31 - Issue 12 - p 3279–3286
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002218
Original Research

Bond, CW, Willaert, EM, Rudningen, KE, and Noonan, BC. Reliability of three timing systems used to time short on ice-skating sprints in ice hockey players. J Strength Cond Res 31(12): 3279–3286, 2017—Speed and acceleration are highly valued in ice hockey and frequently assessed using timing systems. Coaches must use reliable timing systems to assess these attributes, but many systems have not been thoroughly evaluated and the required number of sprint repetitions to obtain the coach's desired degree of reliability for a system may be impractical. This study aimed to compare the reliability of a single photocell (PC), a single laser with a microprocessor (LA), and a digital video camera (VC); and in doing so, evaluate the influence of completing additional sprint repetitions on each systems' reliability. We hypothesized that PC and LA would yield different times, have inferior reliability, and require a larger number of sprint repetitions to obtain the same degree of reliability compared with VC. Seventeen male ice hockey players completed 5 repetitions of a 9.15 m on ice-skating sprint timed simultaneously by PC, LA, and VC. The times obtained from VC were narrowly distributed around the mean compared with PC and LA and resulted in a mean sprint time approximately 0.05 and 0.07 second faster than PC and LA, respectively {PC: 1.74 second (95% confidence interval [1.72–1.76]); LA: 1.76 second [1.74–1.78]; VC: 1.69 second [1.67–1.70]}. When 2 sprint repetitions were completed, PC and LA typical error (TE) and smallest worthwhile difference (SWD) were 2.8- and 4.3-fold greater than VC, respectively. As more repetitions were completed, TE and SWD for PC and LA improved but remained approximately 2-fold greater than VC even when 5 repetitions were completed. With a smaller TE and SWD, VC was able to detect smaller “real” changes in a player's sprint performance over time compared with PC and LA.

1Sanford Sports Science Institute, Fargo, North Dakota;

2Sanford Research, Sanford Health, Sanford Orthopedics and Sports Medicine, Fargo, North Dakota;

3School of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, North Dakota; and

4Sanford Research, Fargo, North Dakota

Address correspondence to Colin W. Bond,

Copyright © 2017 by the National Strength & Conditioning Association.