Ice Hockey Players Using a Weighted Implement When Training on the Ice: A Randomized Control Trial
Stark, Timothy W., Tvoric, Bojan, Walker, Bruce, Noonan, Dom, Sibla, Janeene, Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport
The purpose of this study was to investigate the potential for improving hockey players' performance using a weighted implement on the ice. Forty-eight players were tested using a grip strength dynamometer. They also were assessed on their abilities to stick-handle. The participants were randomly placed into a control or research group. The conditioning drills were performed for 10-15 min 3 days/week for 6 weeks. Use of the weighted implement resulted in a significantly enhanced grip strength endurance and stick-handling ability (p <. 05). Using weighted implements prior to a regular ice hockey training session may be of benefit to young hockey players to enhance their grip strength endurance and stick-handling abilities.
Key words: conditioning, sport specific, stick-handling, weighted puck
Ice hockey is a unique sport in which a young athlete is required to learn an entirely new task (ice skating). These early developers learn the new task of skating and will then often be introduced to the more advanced physical and mental challenges of the sport. As the talented rookie hockey players grow into the sport, they and their trainers look for means to develop their skills. This often involves the dry-land training room, where they can mimick the way a hockey player moves (Ebben, Carroll, & Simenz 2004, Hedrick, 2002). Dry-land training poses numerous difficulties in re-creating on-ice skills, such as gliding, stick handling, and moving against other players. It is the opinion of both the authors and the National Hockey League that these skills are best accomplished on the ice (Schmidt & Toews 1970).
A new product allowing players to do this is a weighted implement with the physical dimensions of a standard hockey puck (Stark 2004). The device is a cylinder 3 inches (7.62 cm) in diameter, 1 inch (2.54 cm) high, and in other ways identical to a standard ice hockey puck. A major difference is that the device is made of aluminum (http://XPuck.com) instead of vulcanized rubber. After appropriate conditioning is achieved with the aluminum puck, the product developers suggest progressing to a smaller, metallic, yet heavier puck that is constructed of stainless steel.
These solid metallic pucks are marketed for use in stick handling and flat passing but not shooting. According to the product developers, a potential benefit of conditioning with this hockey puck lies in its increased weight (aluminum: 10.5 ounces [.3 kg]; stainless steel: 14.4 ounces [.4 kg]) compared to a standard puck (5.5-6 ounces [.15-.17 kg]). Because of the increased weight (like other weighted rubber hockey pucks) one would think it would be slower on the ice. According to engineer Reuben Tschitter, North Dakota State University, Fargo, ND (personal communication, 2003), metal has approximately 40% less friction on ice compared to vulcanized rubber; thus, the weighted metallic pucks may theoretically be faster than standard playing pucks. Because the weight and speed of the metal puck, it notionally carries more momentum than a 6-ounce (.17 kg) vulcanized rubber puck. Although these claims may seem logical, further tests in this area need to be performed.
With these elements in mind, the product developers claim that enhanced grip strength, grip endurance, and stick handling ability will result. This pilot study was conducted to investigate a 6-week conditioning program involving a variety of progressive stick handling tasks using this aluminum puck.
This study was approved through the Human Research Ethics Committee at Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia. The parents of each participant signed an informed consent. The study was designed as a randomized control trial to study the affects of using a weighted metallic implement during stick-handling drills. Pre- and posttesting of maximum grip strength, grip strength endurance, and stick-handling ability through an obstacle course were performed. …