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Russian Scientists Invented a System Assessing the Condition of Hockey Players

Scientists of South Ural State University invented a system assessing the state of hockey players, which will allow to not just forecast results of the athletes but also adjust their training sessions.

The new technique is quicker and more precise

The integrated system of assessing the state and physical condition of athletes is based on many-year research being carried out within the Traktor Ice Hockey Club (Chelyabinsk). Advantages of the new method are in its noninvasiveness (no blood analyses are required for the research), immediacy and mobility. Besides, the in-game role's specificity and the age of athletes get taken into account. Collaborative work with the hockey club is divided into two directions: youth and adult hockey. The athletes themselves are interested in cooperation; they take part in examinations starting up from the age of 14.

The invented technique is more efficient and informative compared to those existing in Russia. It allows assessing not only functional condition of an athlete's organism but also its development and a display of physical skills necessary for playing hockey.

"The specificity of our method is in the fact that it includes several blocks of tests which allow obtaining the most complete information regarding the physical condition of athletes, taking into account the specificity of their central neural system's functioning. These tests include: a block of psychological tests; a block of tests on sensory-motor integration (speed abilities coupled with accuracy of movements); a tapping test which allows determining speed abilities of the arm muscles; tests on strength and coordination; assessment of the general endurance level by variability of the heart rhythm via ECG. Having the data on agility, equability and excitability of the central neural system, we can obtain information on strength and speed characteristics of a person as well as on his general endurance level. All these data allow monitoring the functional state of an athlete at the moment and make a forecast of his performance for both the short-term period and for the future," says research fellow of the SUSU Sports Science Research Centre, Candidate of Sciences (Biology), Associate Professor Elena Surina-Marysheva.

Information about the properties of a person's neural system is necessary to determine one's physical and technical-and-tactical condition as well as the potential of one's further development. For example, development of the speed and strength abilities depends on excitability of the neural system, and assessing the level of development of coordination abilities allows determining the level of handling the puck. Thus, all tests' results with their high informational value get applied to the skills necessary for a hockey player on the ice arena.

The technique will allow forecasting performance in hockey matches

Examination of athletes' condition is carried out featuring the coach and a sports medicine doctor. The knowledge of age-related physiology and physiological psychology as well as of the theory and methods of athletic training are used when analyzing the results of testing. Eventually, coaches and doctors of the hockey team receive data regarding the physical condition of both the whole team and individual athletes. Like this, the integrated technique allows forecasting performance of a goalkeeper in a certain match with the accuracy up to 80%, or determine the period of a match which is going to require setting the whole potential of a certain athlete into action.

Aside from the abovementioned characteristics of athletes, the level of players' stress resistance should be thoroughly evaluated as well. For example, some hockey players can be in a good physical condition but loose the courage under conditions of a competition. Players' ranking with the use of a Traffic Light color system allows visualize the condition of the team which can serve for adjustment of training sessions and forecasting of the team performance.

"This technique for assessment of athletes' state and physical condition allows us adjusting the plan of their training for important tournaments. A specialist who never saw them playing on ice can determine that one or another hockey player can approve oneself at the beginning of a match and, what is less likely, in the second or the third period. Besides, the technique provides assessment of psychological condition of athletes. For example, we can identify enhanced anxiety or some problems in relations with the team which affect one's sport performance. We use this information and work on psychology-related issues. Application of this technique showed positive results more than once," notes Deputy Director of the Traktor Hockey School, Vladimir Molchanov.

In 2019, upon results of the research, South Ural State University scientists obtained patent № 2682486. Presently, they are working on development of analogous systems of assessment, applicable for other sports, and provide medicinal and biological support for training of teams of the Chelyabinsk region and the members of Russian national teams.

Provided by South Ural State University