Size and fitness levels of NHL players have improved, study shows

Sep 16, 2008

Imagine taking a picture of your favourite sports team every year for a generation. Looking back over a quarter of century, the changes you'd see are significant.

Researchers in the University of Alberta Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation looked at an NHL team over a 26-year cycle and discovered players have become bigger and fitter.

The research team studied 703 players from a Canadian-based NHL team from 1979 to 2005. The physiological profile derived from their research shows that over the 26 seasons, defencemen became taller and heavier as body mass increased; forwards got younger and had higher peak aerobic power outputs for cardio-respiratory endurance, while goalies were shorter and more flexible and had lower peak aerobic power outputs. All players combined (defence, forwards and goaltenders) increased body mass, height and anaerobic power over the 26 years.

The physiological changes the research uncovered aren't surprising, says Art Quinney, lead researcher and a professor emeritus of exercise physiology at the U of A.

"It's common in many sports that have a power component that the larger, stronger, faster players develop greater power and they're more successful based on performance. The game has changed over the years and those who are bigger and have additional strength and power are more successful. With changes in rules, however, smaller and faster players also have a place in the NHL."

Researchers also looked at players' fitness levels in successful and non-successful years—defined as those in which the team did or did not win a Stanley Cup or were in the playoffs—and found that fitness levels were not related to team performance.

"One of the things that was clear to me was that fitness is very important, but highly skilled players coming together at particular times of the year is far more important," said Quinney. "There are many factors at play when it comes to the success of a team that aren't measured in a fitness appraisal."

The research was published recently in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

Source: University of Alberta

Explore further: Europe's police crack massive horsemeat trafficking ring

Related Stories

Putting a new spin on computing memory

Apr 22, 2015

Ever since computers have been small enough to be fixtures on desks and laps, their central processing has functioned something like an atomic Etch A Sketch, with electromagnetic fields pushing data bits ...

Data deluge: MLB rolls out Statcast analytics on Tuesday

Apr 21, 2015

Which outfielder sprints the fastest and runs the longest to snag line drives into the gap? Which shortstop is best at throwing from the grass to nip the runner at first? Which catcher gets the ball to second ...

Platform adoption in network markets

Apr 10, 2015

Strategic partnering has become commonplace when introducing innovations to systems markets. In standards battles, network affiliation has been used as a market signal to create confidence in a format's success. ...

Blue Freedom uses power of flowing water to charge

Mar 26, 2015

Good friends may decide to tell you something that is not true but nonetheless sustaining: Nothing is impossible. That was the case of Blue Freedom co-founder who asked his friend if it would be possible ...

Recommended for you

Food industry tries to block Vermont's GMO labeling law

8 minutes ago

Food industry lawyers say there's not enough time to implement Vermont's new labeling rules for genetically modified products before the July 2016 effective date and are asking a federal judge to block them.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.