Relationship Between Skating Economy and Performance During a Repeated-Shift Test in Elite and Subelite Ice Hockey Players

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Lamoureux, NR, Tomkinson, GR, Peterson, BJ, and Fitzgerald, JS. Relationship between skating economy and performance during a repeated-shift test in elite and subelite ice hockey players. J Strength Cond Res 32(4): 1109–1113, 2018—The purpose of this study was to determine the importance of skating economy to fatigue during repeated high-intensity efforts of a simulated ice hockey shift. Forty-five collegiate and Junior A male ice hockey players (aged 18–24 years) performed a continuous graded exercise test using a skate treadmill. Breath-by-breath data for oxygen consumption (V[Combining Dot Above]O2) and respiratory exchange ratio were collected and used to derive energy expenditure (EE) averaged over the final 10 seconds of each stage. Economy was determined as the slope of the regression line relating V[Combining Dot Above]O2 and EE against skating speed separately. Participants also completed 8 bouts of maximal ice skating through a course designed to simulate typical shift, with timing gates determining first half, second half, and total fatigue decrement, calculated by a percent decrement score. Partial correlation was used to determine the association between economy measures and decrement during the repeated-shift test. Twenty-six participants met inclusion criteria and were included in data analysis. Skating economy measures (both relative V[Combining Dot Above]O2 and EE) were very likely moderate positive correlates of total fatigue decrement (r [95% confidence interval]: V[Combining Dot Above]O2, 0.46 [0.09, 0.72] and EE, 0.44, [0.06, 0.71]) but not with first or second gate decrement. Our results indicate that skating economy plays an important role in fatigue resistance over repeated on-ice sprints designed to simulate a typical shift. This supports the use of technical skating coaching and training techniques to enhance skating economy as a means of improving ice hockey performance.

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