How NHL Forwards Use Their Ice Time

Just over 22-days until the Olympic Games open in Sochi – can you believe it?  I did a poll over on Facebook asking you who would win the Men’s Hockey Gold – the front runners were: Canada, Sweden and Russia

In just over a month we will know the answer to that question.  Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.

How Forwards Use Their Ice Time

I was looking for some new research articles on topics that would help me develop more training strategies that will help you win more races to the puck and win more games.

I stumbled upon a review article which I had not seen before – not sure how I missed it since it was published in 2004 and based on data that was collected from observing forwards in the NHL during the 1998 season.

The article “Biomechanics powers ice hockey performance.” is from the September 2004 edition of Biomechanics.

A few things leapt off the page for me and I want to share those with you now…

Percentage of total ice time spent in different modes…

  • Two Foot Glide – 39%
  • Cruise Slide – 16.2%
  • Medium Intensity Skating – 10%
  • Puck/Positional Battles – 9.8%
  • Low Intensity Skating – 7.8%
  • Backward Skating – 4.9%
  • High Intensity Skating – 4.6%

…and none of those even include the puck – in fact less than 6% of the time (in this analysis) included puck possession by a player.

Longer Stride Or More Strides

The article also reviewed data on skating speed taken from  youth, recreational, college and professional players to analyze the biomechanical factors that contributed to faster skating.

Here are the take-home points…

  • The stride length did not increase in faster skaters, the turn-over did
  • Faster skaters got more hip abduction (which gives a longer stride to the side)
  • Faster skaters recovered their leg faster

So there are a few things to think about when you are on the ice or for the coaches out there who are planning practices or off-ice workouts.  To me, the data supports some of the things we do already such as high intensity short duration bursts for energy system training rather than long duration high intensity training.  It supports the importance of ground-based core stabilization training that helps with the puck battles.

I think it highlights the importance of those frontal plane exercises such as lateral lunges or glider lateral squats to help the player get comfortable loading through abduction.

Hope you found that interesting too.

Hockey training blueprint