How each player uses his assets and protects his liabilities dictate his success story - not with-standing heart and desire. 

Knowing one's assets and liabilities is one thing but knowing where they rank in speed or performance  relative to other hockey players is another. Assessing an opposition player during game situations is done either through isolated private battles (wins and loses) or through visual assessment. A defenseman knows to respect a player with exceptional speed. Likewise, a forward knows to take advantage of a slow pivoting defenseman by taking him wide. 

The advantage of the Testing (CAT System) is that it allows a player to understand his strengths and weaknesses immediately. Through my studies,  testing has shown that the fastest players in the Junior and Pro Hockey Ranks accelerate at approximately 22.2 feet per second over 30 feet (the fastest player that I  have tested over the 30 foot sprint test attained a 1.34 second time - hence the animated number on the front page of this site) and 25.6 feet per second over 100 feet (3.91 seconds over 100 feet). In contrast the fastest defending player accelerates backwards at 17.14 feet per second (1.75 seconds over 30 feet) and 21.5 feet per second over 100 feet (4.65 seconds over 100 feet). 

The fastest player forward accelerates at 2.22 feet each .10 of a second. The fastest player backwards accelerates at 1.75 feet each .10 of a second. 

 

 

If we were to translate this into a competitive situation pairing the two against each other (starting from the center line and finishing at the blue-line which is 30'), the forward would cross the line ahead of the defenseman by (subtracting the two times 1.75 D - 1.35 F = .40) approximately 9 feet (2.22 @ .10 of a second times .40). In a game situation the defenseman would have to respect the forward by creating a gap of approximately 9 feet (slightly more or less). Of course lateral mobility, pivoting and crossover skills would have to be taken into consideration to recreate a real game model but for our purpose this provides us with a good working example. This discrepancy becomes more noticeable when comparing other game situations. Take the forward  sprint test (fastest @ 2.48) and the backward to forward  pivot test (fastest @ 3.01) for example.


Forward Medial Distance Test' @ 24.19' per second - Forward to Backward Pivot Test' @ 19.9' per second Result: Forward would beat the Defending player by almost 13 feet if they started together (if we were to use the neutral zone for demonstration purposes).

 

In the previous analysis we are taking into consideration only the fastest and most skilled players tested and pitting them against each other. If we were to compare the fastest players against the average player pool, the results would be far more evident. 

For example the average time for the backward  sprint test for defensmen at the Junior A tier 2 level is 2.05 seconds. Comparing this against the fastest forward player would have the forward crossing the line (2.06 average backward time minus 1.34 fastest forward time = .71 seconds multiplied by 2.22 feet per .10 of a second equals) approximately 16 feet ahead. This difference of 16 feet is quite dramatic. The average backward skater would just attain the halfway point before the elite forward player finishes. 

If we were to take the average  backward to forward pivot time for defensmen at the Junior A - tier 2 level at 3.40 seconds and compare it to the fastest forward  time in the medial distance test at 2.48 seconds the forward would cross the line (3.40 - 2.48 = .92 x 24.19 ft/sec =) 22.25 feet ahead. 

Interesting enough is the fact that while many players think they know who the fastest player on their team is, they are the vast majority of the time WRONG (I frequently asked the players being tested who they thought were  the fastest skaters in the short and long forward sprint tests to which they always had an answer). When asking the players who they thought was  the fastest backward skater, I  seldom got any answer at all and most certainly a forward was never mentioned. 


What does this information translate into for the coach? 


Take some of the skating skill match-ups evident during game play: 

1 - Forward acceleration                      versus                     Backward acceleration 
2 - Forward speed                                versus                    Forward speed 
3 - Tight turn                                          versus                    Backward to Forward pivot (direction change) 
4 - Backward to Forward Pivot             versus                    Forward speed 
5 - Stop / Start                                       versus                    Backward to Forward pivot (direction change) 
6 - Forward Crossovers                       versus                    Forward Crossovers 

Provided in the next few pages is a visual representation of how the numbers (player's test times) translates into "on-ice" performance. 

The diagrams shown below are to create a visual connection between a timed value (skating test result) and its' relevance to space or distance as well to other comparative values. 


 

30 Foot forward Sprint Timed Values

(N) Novice (8, 9 yrs)       - 1.96 seconds        (B) Bantam (13, 14 yrs)      -  1.37 seconds

(A) Atom (10, 11 yrs)     - 1.66 seconds        (M) Midget (15, 16 yrs)       -  1.34 seconds

(P) PeeWee (12, 13 yrs)- 1.50 seconds        (J)  Junior (15 - 20 yrs)        -  1.38 seconds

                                                                 (P)  Pro  (18 + yrs)             -  1.40 seconds

60 Foot Forward Sprint Timed Values
(N) Novice    -  3.42 seconds        (B) Bantam    -   2.65 seconds        (P)  Pro      -   2.60 seconds

(A) Atom      -  2.98 seconds        (M) Midget     -   2.71 seconds

(P) PeeWee -  2.74 seconds        (J)  Junior       -   2.59 seconds

The above diagram represents acceleration comparisons between divisions. The left side of the diagram represents player positioning at the 1 sec point of the test relative to the fastest players timed within each respective division. The right side of the diagram represents player positioning relative to location where the fastest timed player crosses the finish line after the 60 foot sprint. These comparisons demonstrate the differences in short and medium distance acceleration. As players mature and musculature and bone mass increase, speed relative to time translates into power. For example, the following numbers represent a random selection of 100 players and the averages of their combined weights: 

Atom Elite:           92 lbs                             PeeWee Elite:      119 lbs 
Bantam Elite:       151 lbs                            Midget Elite:         169 lbs 
Junior A Tier 1:   176 lbs                            Pro                       193 lbs 

Weight becomes a very important factor relative to speed. My research has shown that the fastest players generate a force of approximately 2.2 times their body weight during the 30 foot acceleration test. Proper leg training obviously plays a critical factor in performance. Shown below is the body weight in pounds relative to the fastest player tested in their respective division.

For example: 

Atom :          Accelerates at        18.07 ft/sec         92 lbs     x  2.2 =   202.4 lbs/torque 
PeeWee:      Accelerates at        20.0 ft/sec           119 lbs   x  2.2 =   261.8 lbs/torque 
Bantam:        Accelerates at        21.89 ft/sec         151 lbs  x  2.2 =   332.2 lbs/torque 
Midget:          Accelerates at        22.38 ft/sec         169 lbs  x  2.2 =   371.8 lbs/torque 
Junior A:       Accelerates at        21.73 ft/sec         176 lbs  x  2.2 =   387.2 lbs/torque 
Professional: Accelerates at       19.86 ft/sec          193 lbs  x  2.2 =   424.6 lbs/torque*  

*number of professional players tested numbered  approximately 225 players.

 

                                Fastest Clocked Time             Average Clocked Time

(N) Novice (8, 9 yrs)          - 1.96 seconds                            -    2.26 seconds

(A) Atom (10, 11 yrs)        - 1.66 seconds                            -    2.14 seconds

(P) PeeWee (12, 13 yrs)   - 1.50 seconds                            -    2.55 seconds

 

The above diagram represents a division to division comparison. The relevance of speed is critical to each level. The gap between players represents the variance created over a 30 foot distance between the fastest players timed per division and the average (50%) player within the same division. The importance of over-speed training (training for speed out on one's comfort zone - maximum potential where form and control is hard to maintain) is critical. This is demonstrated clearly by the diagram representing the PeeWee division (12, 13 years of age). Weaker skating skills at the younger levels (Novice - 8,9 years of age) demonstrates the importance of good all around fundamentals. The gap between the fastest and average player closes again at the levels above PeeWee. The gap remains fairly constant at the Bantam and Midget Divisions (14, 17 years of age) and begins 
to close quickly at the Junior and Professional ranks as shown below.

 

With the gap between the average and the elite player closing substantially, capitalizing on an opportunity where open ice is created is very important. It must be stated that these comparisons are shown minus reaction time. Gap is shown where players have left starting line at the same time. Where a defensive player is placed in a reactionary role, 2 or 3 tenths of a second can make all of the difference as shown below. 

 

Fastest Clocked Time                                        Average Clocked Time

(B) Bantam (13, 14 yrs)       -  1.37 seconds        -     1.82                                                    

(M) Midget (15, 16 yrs)        -  1.34 seconds        -     1.79

 (J)  Junior (15 - 20 yrs)        -  1.38 seconds       -      1.60

 (P)  Pro  (18 + yrs)             -  1.40 seconds       -      1.70

 

 

This diagram places a player's reaction time into the equation. If we were to add only 3/10s of a second to the time of the average skater quite a gap is created between the two players. From this model we can see the importance of explosive acceleration training within the practice system. One of the main problems within a practice environment is the focus on the main body of the drill as opposed to the beginning. Players are allowed to "ease into" the drill focusing only on speed once the flow of the dill has begun. 

Quick starts aid in the development of reactionary skills. How much of a gap is required for the offensive player to generate a good scoring opportunity is dependant on the skill of the player. 

  

Mere 10ths of a second make all of the difference in a game that focuses on speed and opportunity!

 

Teaching Power Skating and Hockey Skills for the past 20 years, I have demonstrated that there are two distinct styles of skating relative to body alignment.  Defensive posturing as well as Offensive posturing.  Lack of or possession of quick reactionary skills is directly related to several micro skill set fundamentals which I will not get into here but of course will offer at a later time. This study explained why there are great defensive as well as offensive players.  Again, if you look at my front page again where I explain the success of my Bantam AAA team, you should begin to comprehend the relevance of this information either specific to an individual role player or to an overall team system.

 

In the diagram shown below, comparison is made between forward and backward acceleration. In the diagram on the left, the fastest forward per division is paired against the fastest defenseman. Positioning demonstrates the gap necessary if players were to cross the finish line at the same time. In the diagram on the right, forwards are paired against average defense. Average places the defenseman within the 50 percentile. Again, the defense is placed in a reactionary position. If we were to add 3/10s of a second to the time of the defensive player, as shown as "player X", additional gap is created. This demonstrates the importance of anticipation and reaction skills. 

Problems with backward acceleration impact a team's success at the offensive blue-line. Containing the puck becomes a problem and in effect eliminates 1 or even 2 players from the play within the zone. As opposed to thinking of offensive, mental focus becomes primarily concerned with defense with defenseman leaving the zone early. 

 

 

When more complex skills such as pivoting are taken into consideration, discrepancies in performance are very evident. Backward to forward pivots are primarily a function of leg speed and flexibility as opposed to explosive power which involve the larger muscles of the legs. Technique is the foundation of this basic fundamental. Speed lost during the pivot effects forward momentum. In order for a defenseman to be effective in a one-on-one confrontation, superior skills in backward acceleration (maintains gap), good 
overall backward skating speed, and efficient pivoting are necessary. 

The diagram shown below  shows the position of players within their respective divisions relevant to the fastest 
clocked time where player was crossing the finish line. 

 

The following comparison below represents forward crossover testing.  Positions of players would demonstrate position relative to skating the perimeter of one of the face-off circles shown inside the diagram and reflect performance for each Division..

 


 

Following is a comparison versus average player times relative to each respective division.

 

PeeWee  AAA Cross-over Comparison - Fastest versus Average

 

  

 

PeeWee AAA Percentage Comparison

 

 

Bantam AAA Cross-over Comparison - Fastest versus Average

In the above diagrams, we again show a comparison between the fastest and the average timed  Rep player. 

The fastest timed player accelerates at approximately 19.54 feet per second while the average player only 
accelerates at 16.3 feet per second. 

What is important to note in all of the examples shown is that comparisons are made respective to both players starting at the same time. 

Distances are specific to reaction time during game situations. Every 10th of a second is absolutely critical to maintaining man-on-man coverage. Quick acceleration creates an immediate "reaction gap". Therefore, the only way that an inferior skater can compensate is to have superior "anticipation" skills. The importance of a player possessing the ability to read and react to the play cannot be understated. It becomes, in a game designed for speed, a critical part of a player's make-up. 

We have established a correlation between time and distance. A player's time becomes a tool from which we can compare one player against another or a player against a group of players. This type of comparison creates a ranking system from which we can establish bench marks to gauge performance. 

This diagram represents players positioning relative to ranking or percentile. The fastest player would be ranked as 100% and all other players would be positioned accordingly. 

It is important to create a clear picture of a player's true skating potential. A common mistake that players make is that they do not understand their limitations. Skating ability is specific to time and distance. There are several other factors that we have to consider: 

1 - A player's ability to read the play and anticipate movement. 
2 - A player's reaction skills or inherent reflex. 

 

Midget  AAA Cross-over Comparison - Fastest versus Average

   

 

 

Midget  AAA Cross-over Comparison - Fastest versus Average

 

Reaction time is a critical component of a player's makeup. If we translate reaction time into distance we can further understand why read and react and anticipation skills are so important. 

Forward Crossovers

Atom:                                                   Novice: 
100% = 18.5 ft/sec                               100% = 16.99 ft/sec 
50% = 15.2 ft/sec                                 50% = 14.7 ft/sec 
.1 of a sec. = 1.52 ft                              .1 of a sec. = 1.47 ft. 

PeeWee:                                               Bantam:                                       Midget:   
100% = 19.54 ft/sec                            100% = 20 ft/sec                         100% = 20.86 ft/sec 
50% = 16.30 ft/sec                               50% = 17.66 ft/sec                      50% = 18.16 ft/sec 
.1 of a sec. = 1.63 ft.                           .1 of a sec. = 1.76 ft.                    .1 of a sec. = 1.82 ft. 
                           
Junior Tier 2:                                         Professional: 
100% = 21.09 ft/sec                              100% = 21.09 ft/sec
50% = 18.73 ft/sec                                50% = 18.82 
.1 of a sec. = 1.87 ft                             .1 of a sec. = 1.88 ft

 

The above times reflect only 1/10 of a second.  While space is limited we can see by increasing the time value that a player has to react, space or distance increases relatively.

 

Again, the figures are specific to forward crossovers testing analysis: 

PeeWee:                                            Bantam:                                              Midget: 
100% =.1 of a sec. = 1.63 ft.            100% = .1 of a sec. = 1.76 ft. 1          100% = .1 of a sec. = 1.82 ft. 
.2 = 3.26 ft                                       .2 = 3.52 ft                                            .2 = 3.64 ft 
.3 = 4.92 ft                                       .3 = 5.28 ft                                            .3 = 5.46 ft 
.4 = 6.42 ft                                       .4 = 7.04 ft                                            .4 = 7.28 ft 
.5 = 8.15 ft                                       .5 = 8.8 ft                                              .5 = 9.1 ft 

Junior Tier 2:                                     Professional: 
100% = .1 of a sec. = 1.87 ft           100% = .1 of a sec. = 1.88 ft 
.2 = 3.74 ft                                       .2 = 3.76 ft 
.3 = 5.61 ft                                       .3 = 5.64 ft 
.4 = 7.48 ft                                       .4 = 7.52 ft 
.5 = 9.35 ft                                       .5 = 9.4 ft 

 


What is particularly interesting is that as coaches we work on reactionary drills very little, but  instead focus on system or pattern recognition drills.  My research has shown that the average player (and I am going to very generic here because of the volume of information) at the Junior Level was 5/10's of a second.  

 

By analyzing the above information, we can see that the elite player has a real advantage over an untrained and unskilled player. Once an advantage has been gained, due to the fact that these scores represent the top players, weaker players can never catch up. When considering offensive systems that incorporate cycling, a team that is slow to react out of the corners will find themselves on the wrong end of the score board. 

Considering that these scores are relative to "CURVE" acceleration, straight ahead speed amounts to even greater distances. 

Testing has shown that superior short distance speed is absolutely critical to a team's successful deployment of defensive and offensive systems. Short distance training helps to develop a player's read and reaction skills which again translate into opportunities relative to distance as shown below in the Game Simulation Diagrams.

 

 

As we can see, reaction time plays a critical role in offensive as well as defensive play.  If we increase reaction time, as the following diagrams demonstrates, the ensuing result is obvious.

 

 

Bantam 100 foot sprint Game Simulation Diagram

 

 

Pro Reaction Game Simulation Diagram

 

 

 

 

We can see that as well move up through each level, speed relative to overall group increases which impacts dramatically time and space.

 

The chart below represents a comparative analysis between the top 5 and bottom 5 tested goal-scorers in 
the Junior hockey league tested relative to point production per game played. 

Top 5 Players - Total points represented:           559 
Bottom 5 Players - Total points represented:      31 

Top 5 represented: 

                   Ht        Wt       Pos.      GP      Gls.     Ass.      Pts/Gm. 
Player 1.      6'3       200       RW       39        34        51        2.18 
Player 2.      5'9       155       C           58        58        64        2.10 
Player 3.      5'6       165       C           60        42        81        2.05 
Player 4.      5'11     175       C           58        60       55         1.98 
Player 5.      5'10     180       C           60        51       63         1.90

 
Totals                     245  Goals         314  Assists     =    559 points

Bottom 5 represented: 
                   Ht          Wt       Pos.      GP       Gls.      Ass.      Pts/Gm. 
Player 1.      5'7         165       C           57         5          5 .         09 
Player 2.     6'0         175       C           57         2          7          .04 
Player 3    . 6'0         205      RW         42         2          3          .05 
Player 4.     6'0         165      RW         55         2          3          .04 
Player 5.     6'1         210      LW         22         0          2           .01 


Totals                    11   Goals          20  Assists      =   31 points

 

I compiled  all testing data for each group ranging from backward acceleration  to forward short, medium and long game speed, from  crossovers left and right to stop/starts. After analyzing the information I was shocked to see that what players have been told for years as the primary focus for their power skating was indeed wrong.  The skills were so dramatically different between the top and bottom group that in the first comparison the top group was an amazing 25% better.  In the second skill comparison, the top group was again an astonishing 23% better. These figures in comparative performance resulted in the point production shown above.  

 

The following chart demonstrates a fundamental comparison between overall skating tests, forward speed tests and transitionary skating skills.

 

However, not all transitionary skills had tremendous impact. The above represents a total of all such skills, but when isolating specific elements comparatively, the impact on performance becomes even more dramatic! 

Based on the research analysis of the above information relevant to the testing performed, I was able to create a training program for my 15-16 year old for both on ice as well as off ice that allowed us to win the Western Canadian Bantam Hockey Championship, the first time that a team from British Columbia, Canada, had done so in over 20  years).  As well, it allowed us to win the Medicine Hat Alberta International Invitational Bantam Tournament, the first B.C. team to ever do so in the history of the tournament.

 

What were the relevant skills or tests,  you will have to wait and see!!!

 

More later.

 

Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson,   President, Technical Director Quan-Tech Sport Systems Inc.
Copyright 1996 by Ron Johnson. All rights reserved.
Revised: 04 Nov 2009 08:40:29 -0800 .