Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Doctor of Philosophy




Dickey, James, P.


Due to the physical nature of the game, injuries are common in ice hockey. Injury rates have been difficult to interpret due to the inconsistencies in the definitions of injury and athlete exposure. Consensus statements on injury definitions have been developed for sports such as soccer and rugby but have not been established in ice hockey. Furthermore, many different off-ice tests are performed, but a hockey-specific performance test has not been promoted. Accordingly, the objective for this thesis was to investigate injury rates, injury definition, athlete exposure and injury type in men’s ice hockey, and providing information on a practical test practitioners can use to monitor fatigue and measure performance. This was achieved through three research projects. An integrative literature review was conducted to suggest a specific definition of injury and athlete exposure (Chapter 2). This study identified that the International Ice Hockey Federation’s definition of injury is preferred based on the clarity and relevance of the injury description and that the preferred athlete exposure metric is player game-hours based on accuracy and ease of use. In addition, lower extremity injuries were identified as common and costly in men’s ice hockey. The single leg, medial countermovement jump was identified as an appropriate hockey-specific performance test. This jump enables objective measures of frontal plane force and power and is particularly applicable for ice hockey players given that ice skating involves applying lateral forces. All twelve parameters of the jump showed moderate to excellent reliability (Chapters 3) suggesting that this jump is a reliable test for assessing frontal plane force and power in ice hockey players. Finally, normative values and asymmetry indices were presented in ninety-one male youth hockey players aged 10–18 years (Chapter 4). In conclusion, lower extremity injuries are common in hockey and injury rates are difficult to interpret as the definition is not consistent. The single leg, medial countermovement jump is an appropriate functional test for measuring skating performance. Ice hockey performance staff can use this evidence-based research to measure performance, monitor fatigue, and document recovery from injury.

Summary for Lay Audience

Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports played in North America. Due to the physical nature of the game, injuries often occur. Injuries in men’s elite ice hockey have been studied over the past 40 years, however, there is a lack of consensus on definitions of both injury and athlete exposure. These inconsistencies make it difficult to evaluate injury rates over time or between hockey leagues.

Players’ skill and physical development change with age resulting in increased upper body strength and lower body power. Consequently, physical preparation training and functional performance testing are important for measuring performance and monitoring fatigue. These tests may also be used to evaluate whether injured players are recovered and able to return to play. Numerous tests have been used in hockey, as illustrated by the NHL Scouting Combine™; however, the best tests must be selected based on reliability and relevance to sport. This thesis proposed that the single leg, medial countermovement jump is an appropriate performance test for ice hockey as it involves pushing to the side, like skating.

This study determined that all twelve parameters of the single leg, medial countermovement jump were reliable enabling coaches to feel confident when testing their athletes. Normative values and asymmetry indices were also presented for ninety-one youth hockey players. These values provide age-specific reference to coaches and performance staff. This permits coaches to compare their athletes’ performance with other athletes playing the same level of hockey. The results of this thesis provide evidence that parameters of the single leg, medial countermovement jump can reliably be used in the sport of ice hockey. Performance specialists can use this information to assess performance, monitor fatigue, and document recovery from injury.