Skating ability, and more specifically the ability to accelerate from a stationary position or change direction rapidly, is recognized as one of the most important skills in ice hockey. While coaches may use drills to compare skating performance between individuals, especially during player selection, few studies have identified the essential kinematic variables that contribute to the ability of development-age hockey players to accelerate over a specified distance. Previous research reported that the determination of performance and ultimately skating power could be related to specific biomechanical parameters, especially among developing hockey players. However, there is evidence to suggest that the potential confounding effects of height and weight should be considered in such biomechanical evaluations. Considering the range of variability for the height and weight of ten year-old children, it may be appropriate to include these as predictors of skating performance.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the biomechanical characteristics of minor hockey players while performing an on-ice acceleration skill test. In addition, the study evaluated the contribution of height and weight on the assessment of skating technique. Participants were 30 male development-age hockey players categorized by level of play. Correlation identified the kinematic variables related to time to skate six meters. Regression analysis identified the set of variables that best predicted time to skate six meters. Comparing structural models across studies demonstrates the importance of body size on skating performance. These results illustrate the importance from the development age, through to university athletes, to elite NHL prospects.