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Blog / 2015 / February / Ice Hockey Player Development Using Hear...
February 9, 2015

Ice Hockey Player Development Using Heart Rate Monitoring

For many years in ice hockey, it's been thought that the harder practice is, the better the players will perform on game day.  That skating a team into the ground would elicit mentally tough, fit, competitive hockey players that no other team would be able to touch. That no matter how tired you were, completing the 4th mountain of practice would make you better. Then game day arrives, and at the end of a 5-3 loss the coach decides that his team is not fit and guess what happens…the next practice is not going to be fun.

This mentality plagues the sport of hockey and player performance. Not realizing or monitoring player outputs over the course of the week can produce fatigue and a greater risk for injury, and prevents players from peaking on game day.

Gathering Data From Drills

Utilizing heart rate monitoring, there is a systematic approach to practice programming that can ensure every hockey player is getting the conditioning, touches, and skill training that they need in practice, but also allows a coach to get through drills in a given practice period.

When gathering data, for the first several weeks you will break the practice down into segments by drills. For each drill you will collect data on:

  • Training load
  • Drill time
  • Time above threshold

By collecting this data, you'll learn the volume and intensity each drill is placing on each individual player. In a spreadsheet, break it up by position in order to see how each drill effects each position differently. You can then rank the drills from most intense to least intense (based off of training load/time), to find what drills are hardest on each position.

  Drill Time Training Load Time above threshold

Why is this important? During any given practice you may have 5 drills to accomplish, but the traditional order that you completed them in left your defensemen exhausted by the time it came for skill work, and thus they couldn't complete a 3-foot pass. Now you're able to see the stress placed on each positional player and order your drills differently to equate the stress over the course of a practice - and thus have more effective and efficient practices where skill, systems, and conditioning are all incorporated scientifically.

Building A Client Exercise Database

This same protocol can also be used for personal training, group exercise classes, or fitness camps. When training, take each exercise or movement series that is completed by the client and record the data, just for different hockey drills. Over the course of time, you'll build an exercise database for each individual that you train.

Client Name Drill Time Training Load Time above threshold
Goblet Squat      
Stair Run      
Front Plank      

This method is informative and useful for the both the trainer and the client. As the trainer becomes more in tune with their client, they will be able to program more effectively for greater results, while the client have a better understanding of their training and asee results actually occurring.

For example when a client first starts with a training program, and the trainer has them do a stair climb for 10 minutes; this leads to a training load of 23 and a time above threshold of 3 minutes. Well 3 weeks into the program that same activity only elicited a 16 training load and 1 minute above threshold. Since the training load and time above threshold are all individually based, given the athlete or clients fitness parameters, age, height, weight, training history, and genetic potential; the trainer now knows that they can increase the intensity as the body is adapting to the stimulus being placed on it, but the client also sees that their body is becoming more efficient and are making positive strides in their physical fitness, which will lead to more buy in and motivation.

Another great way to use this approach is when a client goes on holidays or is sick. Now you can use this drill book as a comparison or predictor. A comparison if they have lost any fitness from being on vacation, but also a predictor of sickness. Suppose a client is feeling a little off and doesn't know why. You go through a workout that you have done before and their body seems to be struggling or working harder than usual to complete it. This may be a sign of oncoming sickness and that this person should take extra precaution in the upcoming days. All of a sudden as a trainer you look like a genius!

A drill and exercise book is a very valuable tool for the sport coach and personal trainer alike, and will lead to more individualized programming and much quicker and accurate results, that both the athletes, clients, and coaches will love.

Justin Roethlingshoefer is a 2014 graduate of the University of Louisville and the head sports performance coach for the Miami hockey program. His primary duties include managing all aspects of the RedHawks' strength and on and off ice conditioning, nutrition and supplementation programs, performance analytics, day to day practice implementation and planning with the coaching staff, and massage therapy and recovery techniques. He also designs and implements individual workout programs for each player both in season and during the summer, create individual meal plans based on player need, monitor player gains and fatigue and maintain the new weight room at the Goggin Ice Center. He is also in control of monitoring, implementing and reading data from Polar, GPS, and other performance technology.

Roethlingshoefer is a certified as a strength and conditioning coach by the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Association and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is also Precision Nutrition (PN) certified, Kinesiotape certified, and possesses a United States Weightlifting level one certification. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Movement Science from Westfield State University in 2012 and his Masters of Science degree in Exercise Physiology from Louisville in 2014.

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