NHL Draft Combine Testing
The annual NHL Entry Draft combine assessment involves interviews, medical screenings, and fitness tests over a four-day period. All 30 NHL teams send representatives to watch the testing and to take part in the interviewing of the young prospects. The assessment includes fitness testing, medical evaluation, psychological evaluation, an interview and possibly skill testing.
The assessments are conducted by a nationally accredited high performance athlete testing laboratory. Following the draft selections, additional tests may also be conducted by some teams. The information below about the tests is primarily from the document by Gledhill and Jamnik (2007) and may not be the same as currently used, as over time tests and been added and removed from the protocols. Supplemental information has been found online, and may also not be completely accurate or current.
To see for yourself what goes on at the draft camp, see these videos. Some results from previous combines are listed on the NHL Scouting Combine Results page. In 2014, the combine follwed the following format. Interviews were conducted during a five-day period; the functional movement screening was held on Thursday, medical examinations on Friday and the fitness testing on Saturday.
In total the testing component of the combine lasts about an hour and a half for each player. The current battery of tests are listed below.
In 2007, new tests were added: the hexagon test for agility, balance test and a 'standing squat' test (vertical jump with a pause?). Also grip strength fatigue and wingspan, were also first measured. In 2013 a 'Functional Movement Screen' was introduced. In 2014, overhand pull-ups, single leg squats (both legs) and pro agility tests replaced push-ups, the push-pull station and the seated medicine ball throw.
Currently (2014) there are four body composition tests and 11 individual fitness tests.
- Standing Height: measured to the nearest 0.2 cm
- Wingspan: measured to the nearest 0.2 cm from the middle finger tip to middle finger tip.
- Body Weight: using a calibrated beam-type balance and recorded to the nearest 0.1 kg.
- Skinfold Bodyfat Measurements: all measurements are made on the right side of the body with the exception of the abdominal skinfold. Sites assessed Chest, Triceps, Subscapular, Suprailiac, Abdomen, Front Thigh. Body fat calculation based on formula from Yuhasz.
Strength, Power and Muscular Endurance
- Grip Strength: test of hand grip muscle strength, conducted on each hand.
- Bench Press Repetitions: test of chest muscle strength and endurance. The bench press test performed with 150 lbs in time with the metronome at a rate of 25 per minute.
- Curl-ups: test of core muscle strength and endurance. record maximum number at a rate of 25 curl-ups per minute.
- Standing Long Jump: test of leg power. Record to the nearest centimeter the distance from the jumping line the heel mark in the best of three trials.
- Vertical Jump: Tests leg power, conducted using the Vertec Jump measurement apparatus and Jump Timing Mat. Leg power is calculated.
- Pull-Ups: measurement of the maximum number of pull ups, using the overhand technique. The test requires each player to perform a maximum number of consecutive repetitions with the correct technique while pausing for one second at the top and bottom of the movement. Partial pull-ups will not be counted.
- Single Leg Squats: The single leg squats evaluate unilateral strength, balance and full body coordination. Each player must perform five successive repetitions on each leg. Each squat is worth 15 points with a maximum score of 75 (per leg).
- Pro Agility Test: a lateral movement test that measures the agility of the athlete, especially body control and change of direction.
- Sit and Reach: measures hamstring and lower back flexibility. The baseline is set at the 25.4 cm (10 inch) mark.
- Wingate test: 30 second bike test for anaerobic power (measures explosive leg power and fatigue). The resistance used is 9% of the athleteʼs body mass.
- VO2max Test: assessed by measuring the amount of oxygen utilized (VO2max) during maximal cycle ergometer exercise. In addition, heart rate is monitored continuously. The initial workload is set at 2.0 kp and increased 1.0 kp every 2 minutes for the first 3 levels, and at a cadence of 70 revolutions per minute. Thereafter the workload increased 0.5 kp every 1 minute at a cadence of 80 revs.
We have found that the following tests have previously been part of the NHL assessment protocol (they may still be tested, but no results are published).
- Balance: the players are required to balance on a balance board, and measured how many times the board touches the floor in 60 seconds.
- Hex Agility: like the hexagon test, there is an ‘X’ at the center of a circle and you have to jump from the ‘X’ to the top of the circle, then back to the ‘X’, then to the right side, then back to the ‘X’ and so on. There are sensors all around the circle to measure speed/time.
Tests that have been removed
- Push-ups: test of chest muscle strength and endurance. record maximum number at a rate of 25 push-ups per minute.
- Upper Body Push and Pull Strength: using a Strength Dynamometer to measures the maximum upper body push and pull strength.
- Seated Medicine Ball Throw: test of upper-body (arm) power. Maximum distance ball can be thrown from seated position.
The medical assessment is comprised of a health questionnaire and a physical examination conducted by a medical physician. An extensive knee examination is also conducted if the physician identifies a possible problem. In 2009 an echocardiogram test was added to the medical screening. The medical portion of the testing takes about a half an hour, and includes:
- completion of a health questionnaire
- questions and examination by doctors
- photographs of the player
- an eye test
- two hand/eye coordination tasks
- echocardiogram test
Functional Movement Screen
This new exam was added to the protocol in 2013. The Functional Movement Screen (FMS) requires the prospects to perform seven specific joint tests that are graded on a 1-3 scale, with a highest possible total score of 21. Research shows that a score of less than 14 might indicate a risk of future injury. The test includes a deep squat, hurdle step, lunges, shoulder mobility movements, leg raises and trunk stability and pushups. It takes about 15 minutes to complete and I refer to it as a screen and not a test,The results could ultimately reveal imbalances and symmetry deficiencies in movements of the body.
A psychological evaluation test was introduced in 2007 in response to the teams' request for a mental assessment of the potential draftees. Much of the psychological testing is administered prior to the Combine itself, while a Neuro-cognitive test is administered immediately after the players complete their Wingate and VO2max testing.
The psychological evaluation consists of a two-part computer test of approximately an hour's length. The first part is a long series of questions about the prospect's personality, including such things as mental toughness and coachability. It includes 220 questions that you answer yes or no. One example was something like "if your coach was talking, would you interrupt him if he’s wrong". The second part of the evaluation is a mental efficiency test, which measures spatial awareness, decision speed, decision accuracy, concentration, and rates of mental fatigue. A shortened form of the second part was repeated immediately after the fitness testing component, to determine the how much the individual player's reactions decline under stress and fatigue, and includes measures a player's reaction time and spatial awareness.
Possibly the most important part of the testing weekend is the daunting 20-minute face-to face interview with team personnel. Some teams include a sports psychologist among their staff at the interview table.
The NHL was looking into adding an on-ice skill testing component to the test procedures in 2008.
- Gledhill, N. and Jamnik, V. Detailed Assessment Protocols For NHL Entry Draft Players, York University, Toronto 2007.
- Other information has be sourced from online, and may not be completely accurate. The protocols for each test describes the standard protocols for that test, and in some cases may not be exactly the same as that used by the NHL.
- Draft Camp Videos
- NHL Scouting Combine Results
- poll about the fitness components for ice hockey
- AFL, NFL and NBA draft combine tests.
- fitness testing for hockey