Fitness Testing for Hockey

Do you have what it takes to be a hockey player? As with most team sports, there are many components of fitness that are important for success. In addition to skating skills, speed, power, agility and endurance fitness are all important. See more information and discussion on the components of fitness for hockey and hockey factors of success.

The follow are some suggested fitness tests suitable for ice hockey players. For each physical attribute there are many suitable tests that may be used. See more information about selecting fitness tests. For other test protocols (which include some of the same tests as below), see the information about the NHL draft combine, SPARQ testing for hockey and Hockey Next Testing.

Fitness Component Example Tests Comments
Body Size Measures of Height and Weight, and Wingspan which determines arm span or reach. Arm reach and body size is important for reaching out for tackles and puck control.
Body Composition Body fat can be measured using the skinfold method. If this is not available, monitoring body weight changes would give an indication of body fat changes, assuming no change in muscle mass. Excess body fat would affect the hockey player's ability to move freely around the ice, and the extra weight to be carried will increase fatigue. 
Flexibility The sit and reach test can be done for lower back and hamstring flexibility.  Good hamstring and lower back flexibility is important for hockey players.
Strength and Power The vertical jump test can be performed to measure leg power. Maximal strength tests for specific exercises should be conducted. For upper body strength endurance a push-up test can be done, A hand grip strength test is also suitable. Strength (and power tests) should also be done to determine strength levels and to monitor strength changes in conjunction with training programs. 
Speed Speed on the ice is most important. A short skating speed test can be performed, or you can perform a standard running Sprint Test over 40 yards, with a split time for the first 5 and 10 yards. Maximum speed and acceleration are very important in hockey. 
Anaerobic Power and Capacity Wingate test 30 second bike test for anaerobic power. another test is the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test which measures endurance capacity and ability to recover from intense bursts of activity. Hockey players require the ability to repeat sprints at high intensity
Agility An on ice agility test is best to measure skating agility. Off-ice you can perform the hexagon test. There is also an off-ice hand-eye coordination and agility test developed specifically for hockey players, the Shuttle Cross Pick-Up. The ability to quickly change direction is very important for hockey. 
Aerobic Fitness The shuttle run (beep) test would usually be the most appropriate test for testing a hockey team. There is also an on ice version of the beep test. See more information on many other aerobic tests here. Aerobic fitness is an important component of fitness for hockey. 

News

The Toronto Maple Leafs switched from using a bicycle based VO2max test to an on ice "skating efficiency test" which provided measurements for heart rate and blood lactic acid levels. The test involved skating at incrementally increasing lengths of the ice surface over timed intervals. The players also skated an all-out sprint through a series of four laser gates to measure their acceleration and power.(Reported in The Star, September 25 2014)

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