Saturday, 22 Jun 2024

New Tests at the NHL Combine

The NHL Combine, an annual pre-draft event, recently took place with some exciting changes and additions. While it may not generate the same level of hype as the NFL Combine, the NHL recognized the need for an upgrade. They moved the testing to a larger arena with live result monitors, ensuring better media coverage and increased publicity.

Player welfare was also a priority for the NHL. Athletes must undergo a thorough medical examination before participating in the tests. To prevent fatigue from affecting the results, the two most demanding fitness tests, the 30-second all-out Wingate anaerobic test and the VO2max cycle test, were conducted on separate days.

A new addition to this year’s combine was the Y-balance test, which assesses flexibility, core control, and proprioception. While previous tests like the balance board have been studied scientifically, the Y-balance test is relatively new, without established norms. It will be interesting to see how the results of this test correlate with performance and injury rates in recruited players over time.

In the vertical jump test, rather than using the Vertec apparatus typically found in other combines, the NHL decided to use a high-tech Kistler Force plate. This change allows them to measure jump height and ground reaction forces, although the importance of the latter is debatable. As a result of these protocol changes, it’s difficult to compare scores from previous years. The highest vertical jump score this year was 28.74 inches, significantly lower than last year’s best score of 35 inches.

Tham Khảo Thêm:  Sailing at the Olympics

Another equipment change involved using the BodPod for body composition assessment. This method, which utilizes whole-body air-displacement plethysmography, is expected to provide more accurate measures than the previously used skinfold testing and body fat calculation. However, this year’s lowest percent body fat score was an unrealistic 4%, far below the previous lowest score of 6%.

While the Y-balance test, force plate, and BodPod protocols are scientifically valid and reliable, it remains to be seen how well the NHL can interpret and utilize the resulting data. Some skeptics argue that fitness test results are not crucial in ice hockey compared to medical assessments and team interviews conducted during the combine. Additionally, on-ice performance should also be a significant factor. Unfortunately, there is no specific test for that yet.

It is clear that the NHL Combine is evolving to keep up with advancements in technology and sports science. The changes aim to provide a more comprehensive evaluation of potential players. As the NHL continues to refine its testing methods, it will be fascinating to see how these new additions contribute to the selection process and the overall success of the league’s athletes.