Importance of Body Composition in the National Hockey League Combine Physiological Assessments

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Abstract

Chiarlitti, NA, Delisle-Houde, P, Reid, RER, Kennedy, C, and Andersen, RE. Importance of body composition in the national hockey league combine physiological assessments. J Strength Cond Res 32(11): 3135–3142, 2018—The National Hockey League (NHL) combine was designed to assess draft-eligible players based on body composition, speed, power, and strength. The importance of body composition in the battery of combine physical tests was investigated, and differences in results based on position were explored. Thirty-seven elite male Canadian university hockey players (age = 22.86 ± 1.55 years, mass = 87.21 ± 6.52 kg, and height = 181.69 ± 6.19 cm) participated in the study at the beginning of their hockey season. All participants underwent physical testing (as outlined in the 2016 NHL combine) and 1 total body dual energy x-ray absorptiometry scan to measure body composition. Partial correlations (controlling for body mass) were used to explore the relationship among body composition measures (body fat percentage, visceral fat, body mass index, lower lean tissue mass, upper lean tissue mass, upper fat mass, and lower fat mass) with NHL fitness tests (bench press, pull-ups, grip strength, long jump, proagility, vertical jump, V[Combining Dot Above]O2max, and the Wingate Anaerobic Test). In 4 of the 6 strength/power tests (Wingate Anaerobic Test, long jump, bench press, and both grip strengths), lower and upper lean tissue mass explained significant amounts of variance. Although forwards and defensemen significantly differed in right grip strength and proagility left scores, they did not differ in regard to any body composition variables. Body composition has a significant influence on several combine-specific tests, which may help sport scientists and strength and conditioning coaches to better tailor training programs and to optimize performance in elite hockey players.

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