Junior ice hockey players’ special physical fitness tests: update options

Master student A.A. Kuzmenko1
Dr.Hab., Associate Professor T.K. Kim1
Dr.Hab, Associate Professor G.A. Kuzmenko1
1Moscow State Pedagogical University, Moscow

Keywords: junior ice hockey players, special physical fitness, test tools, update options.

Background. Lately the professional research community in its studies of the modern ice hockey training systems has given a special attention to the optimal age period to form the valuable competitive personality qualities, master the basic techniques and develop the key physical and movement coordination qualities and skills – to form a basis for the integrated technical and tactical toolkit for a highly-intensive game on the sub-maximal and extreme speeds. The trainings need to be supported by a quality test system to effectively rate the special physical fitness for technical arsenal being efficient, effective and versatile [1-8].

Objective of the study was to analyze the relevance and dependability of the standard test toolkit to rate special physical fitness of the 9-10 year-old ice hockey players.

Methods and structure of the study. We used for the study purposes the following methods: educational process monitoring; computerized fitness tests at the Hockey Development Center (Slovakia); and comparative, correlation, cluster and functional analyses. Sampled for the study were the 9-10 year-old ice hockey players (n=59) excelled at the National Ice Hockey Center (Moscow) and trained at their residential Children and Youth Clubs (CYC), sport schools and CYORSS. CSKA-09 (n=27) and Armada-09 (n=32) ice hockey teams were also tested for the study purposes.

Results and discussion. Test data of the Armada-09 team players (born in 2009) may be summarized as follows. A correlation analysis of the special physical fitness test rates and competitive success rates found that the faster is the footwork of the players, the lower is the competitive success rate (i.e. the points for the goals plus key passes): r = -0.36-0.48 with р<0.05. This may be indicative of the young players being still poorly fit for fast decision-making at such speeds with their physical and movement coordination skills still imperfectly harmonized due to a variety of the biological and educational factors – and that is the reason why a special priority shall be given to the efforts to effectively harmonize the intellectual, physical and technical performance components of the game. Furthermore, the competitive success rates was found to be in negative correlations with the 17/36m maximal-speed forward skating skills test; time difference of the 17/4m skating test (r= -0.44, р<0.05); 17m skating time test (r= -0.36, р<0,05); time difference of the 17/36m skating test (r= -0.48, р<0.05); and 36m skating time test (r= -0.46, р<0.05). The existing test toolkit was recommended to be updated to include a few new decision-making ability rating test tools, with the performance rated by the ‘fast+ accurate’ and ‘fast+ successful’ rates.

The Armada-09 coaching team was found to give preference in the main line to the tall players (r=0.51, р<0.05) with high body weights (r=0.65, р<0.05) and anthropometric (body length and mass) indices (r=0.63, р<0.05) – probably striving to cultivate the power game skills and tactics; plus the players leading in the 6x9m shuttle run tests (r=0.38) who are faster in the field control and attack techniques and tactics.

On the whole, the CSKA-09 and Armada-09 team tests using 31 test criteria showed 456 meaningful test parameter correlations (p<0.05, n=59) of 561, and that is the reason for the test toolkit recommended to be cut down or differentiated on a more skills-sensitive basis.

Thus the 36m reverse skating test data (1-4-17m spans, with 1/4m time differences fixed) showed the need for 12 test exercises to be excluded from the test procedure due the extremely high correlation of these test rates (r=0.91-0.99, р<0.05); with the tests generally demonstrating the excessive homogeneity of the test procedure for the 9-10-year-olds who were found still unfit to accelerate on the longer (4-17m) spans. The 1/4m skating time test yielded the highly important startup speed data. All the other (4, 13, 17m) spans in the 36m reverse (back forward) skating test may be excluded from the test kit since the run times were found determined mostly by the inertial forces rather than the individual speed qualities. The 17/36m face-forward time tests (r=0.92-0.99, р<0.05) may also be cut down in view of the fact that the 9-10-year-olds are still unfit for accelerations after the short startup span.

Lower correlations were found for the following tests: (1) 36m face-forward skating test with the 1m time fixing (хav.(28) r= 0.41, р<0.05); (2) 36m pack-free face-forward skating test with the 4m time fixing (хav. (25) r= 0.59, р<0.05); and (3) the 6х9m pack-free shuttle run test (хav.(14) r=0.55, р<0.05); with all the 31 tests in fact rating only 3 statistically significant and competitively important qualities.

It was of special interest that the body length and mass were found to negatively correlate with 29 speed test rates as follows: body length – хav.(30), r= -0.56, with the variation range of (-0.27)–(-0.74); body mass – хav.(29), r= -0.36, with the variation range of (-0.27)–(-0.74). The finding shows that the 9-10-year-olds with the relatively lower anthropometrics are tested with the higher movement coordination, speed, physical fitness and motor control qualities.

The anthropometric indices were found to positively correlate with the test rates in every back-forward 1-36m test and 36m face-forward skating speed test with the 17-36m span time fixing; with the finding confirming the dominating input of the inertial component in the skating speed: r = (-0.33)– (-0.28), with р<0.05.

Our cluster analysis found a high degree of clustering of the multiple close tests including the 17/4m span maximal-speed skating time test (on the 36m distance), with the test rates characteristic of the field control qualities. It was the 6x9 shuttle run (body mass specific) test rates that yielded the highest clustering rates.

Conclusion. The study data and analyses showed the need for the 9-10-year-olds’ physical and movement coordination skills tests to be updated to include new decision-making ability rating test tools, with the performance rated by the ‘fast+ accurate’ and ‘fast+ successful’ rates. The high correlations of the test data require the test kit being complemented by the tests of the modern competitive skills and their combinations, with the tests being particularly sensitive to the movement coordination qualities; whilst the highly-correlated close tests need to be eliminated. The high contribution and competitive value of the interval reverse skating skills showed the need for complex coordination intensive training exercises to facilitate progress in the fast decision making in the practical competitive situations.

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Corresponding author: kuzmenkoga2010@yandex.ru

Abstract

The article analyzes the validity and dependability of the standard test toolkit to rate special physical fitness of junior (9-10 year-old) ice hockey players trained at the National Ice Hockey Center (Moscow). Having analyzed the standard test toolkit for its update purposes, we found the speed rating test tools excessive and the motor coordination rating test tools insufficient. The players were tested with the poor decision-making skills under time pressure in the high-speed and coordination-intensive game situations. The existing toolkit was recommended to be updated to include new decision-making ability rating test tools, with the performance rated by the ‘fast+ accurate’ and ‘fast+ successful’ rates. The high correlations of the test tools require the toolkit being complemented by the tests of modern competitive skills and their combinations, with the tests being particularly sensitive to the movement coordination qualities and abilities. Relatively low correlations were found for the following tests: puck-free 36m forward skating skills test; 17/4m sprint test; and the 6x9m puck-free shuttle sprint test. The body weight ratio was found to be in positive correlation with the puck-free 36m forward skating skills due to the natural inertial aspects; and in negative correlations with the 1-17m forward sprint skills – indicative of the lower body weight ratio indices favoring the speed and movement control qualities. The study also found that some tests may be clustered to secure the test process relevance and versatility: thus the reverse skating speed test was found highly valuable and informative for the coordination and physical qualities and skills rating in the junior players’ special physical fitness rating test toolkit.