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Reference Data for an Ice Hockey Specific Complex Test

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Ice hockey is the fastest team sport in the world, characterized by a numerous high intensity skating intervals and directional changes (COD) combined with a multitude of body impacts while executing offensive or defensive actions. Considering this, the complexity of ice hockey is not adequately reflected in the literature, as there are various studies, focusing on isolated measurement of players’ performance parameters. With regard to the relationship between off-ice and on-ice performance, the study situation is not uniform . 

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Some authors report that the use of laboratory off-ice tests does not allow conclusion to on-ice performance since important game-relevant motion sequences (skating, CODs, puck handling, passing, shots on goal) can only be tested there. Other authors report a good consistency for off-ice captured anaerobic capacities, speed and high-speed force markers with on-ice captured values of sprinting performance and speed endurance. With respect to this, the relevance of aforementioned markers in terms of ice hockey players’ match performance was not yet proven sufficiently. To our knowledge, only few studies have so far reported performance parameters in relation to match performance.

Prerequisite for the development of the sport-specific and integrative test battery used in the present study was the analysis of the demands in ice hockey and their mapping within a test sequence. In this connection, the intermittent character of the game and typical movement patterns and durations were taken into account to create an ice-hockey-specific-complex-tests (IHCT) with and without the puck that meets the demands of an ice hockey match (18,19). 

Validity analysis of IHCT revealed high determination coefficients with regard to match performance in test sequences with changes of direction (transition agility test, weave agility test) and shot tests under fatigue (wrist shot). High interrelations were also observed for post exercise stress parameters, (blood lactate, heart rate) which can be assigned to the ability to recover. Reliability analysis displayed a high intrarater reliability (ICC>0.75) for 18/22 of the measured loading parameters.

From a practical point of view (coaches, players), it is very important to provide position-specific reference data. These data allow a valid interpretation and the derivation of specific and individual training recommendations. The purpose of the present study was to collect and analyze reference data for this valid and reliable test. We only considered field players and differentiated between forwards and defenders. We hypothesized that forwards are faster than defenders and show a higher performance level concerning skating agilities. Furthermore, we assumed that defenders would have a higher velocity especially with slap shot and a higher performance in backward sprinting.

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