The value of Combine Testing for hockey players

Jan 10, 2019

Our Combines division frequently gets asked when an athlete should consider testing and why should they test in the first place. In this blog we will explain the benefits of testing.

Combine testing, when done correctly, provides accurate data in a variety of tests that can correlate back to hockey specific skills. Testing gives the individual athlete a baseline for their abilities across a range of skills. The test results are entered into the exclusive WHL Combines database, which is shared with every WHL General Manager and Head Scout to help clubs identify and track players.

Individual participants will be given unique access to their online profile, where they can review individual results, comparative reports, and progress reports. Athletes can compare their results against other athletes within the database as well if they test multiple times they will be able to see a comparison of all their previous testing data. This allows players to clearly identify strengths and weaknesses as well as identifying differentials compared to top tested athletes.

combine-blog-skater.jpgThe unbiased data can be leveraged to assist in developing training plans to target specific weaknesses. This allows players to make the most out of training time and allows parents to make informed decisions on where and how training dollars are spent. Multiple testing points throughout the year are valuable in holding the athlete and the trainer accountable. Properly designed training programs followed correctly with a good work ethic will result in improvements over time. If not, then the question must be asked, why was there no improvement? Was it lack of effort? Was it an inadequate training program? Other factors? Athletes looking to improve and get the most out of their time and effort should test three times a year to properly monitor and adjust their training programs.

Skilled players as young as nine-years-old have completed the on-ice testing, which gives them the opportunity to go through the testing and get comfortable with the process. At this age players do not need to be testing multiple times per year, but it is good establish baseline data to compare to future test scores. Peewee-aged players would start to do full on and off ice Combines and begin to develop more structure in their training as they progress in to Bantam aged hockey.

Additionally, many minor hockey associations are using testing and hard data to form part of the evaluation and team placement process. Testing beforehand takes some of the unknowns out of the process for the player and eliminates stress allowing them to perform at their best when it matters the most.

The on and off ice Combine testing protocols for hockey are comprised of five on-ice tests and six off-ice tests for skaters. Goalies undergo a series of four on-ice tests and follow the same off-ice testing protocols. Along with these tests, the athlete’s height and weight are captured.

combine-blog-goalie.jpg

The on-ice testing is comprised of three phases. Phase 1 is 30m sprints and the Reaction test. These test the athlete’s linear speed, acceleration and reaction time. Phase 2 is the Weave Agility, which tests the player’s acceleration, agility and ability to maintain speed while performing multi directional movement. Phase 3 consists of the Transition Agility Test and tests the agility and ability of the player to transition from forward to backward skating while maintaining speed.

All on ice tests are completed with and without the puck.

On-ice testing for goaltenders is also comprised of three phases. Phase 1 and 2 consist of Long and Short Recovery tests, for both the left and right side. Phase 3 consists of the Y-Drill Reaction Pad Slide and Pro Agility Pad Slide. Goalies must perform the tests quickly and in control of their movements for top scores. The tests correlate to game play with changing angles, reading and reacting while staying in control and in position. Tests are suitable and relatable to all styles of goaltending.

combine-blog-off-ice.jpgOff-ice testing consists of capturing the player’s current height and weight followed by six tests that will test for strength and power. The following tests make up the off-ice Combine:

  1. Grip Strength – gives an indication of upper body strength
  2. Seated Med Ball Toss – upper body strength and explosive power
  3. Vertical Jump – measures explosive power and indication of leg strength – vertical leg power
  4. Standing Broad Jump – explosive power, horizontal leg strength indicator
  5. 20m Sprint – measures acceleration and speed
  6. Pro Agility – measures agility, ability to change direction and body control

TEST -> ANALYZE DATA -> IDENTIFY AREAS OF WEAKNESS -> DEVELOP ACTION/TRAINING PLAN -> PUT IN THE WORK -> RE TEST TO MONITOR AND GAUGE IMPROVEMENTS -> ADJUST AS NECESSARY

For more information on Combine testing, or to register for an upcoming WHL Prospect Skills Combine, please visit: whlcombines.com

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Tyler Soy

Going to OHA was one of the greatest decisions I have made for my hockey career. OHA prepared me for the next level. Skating, strength, speed, conditioning. I wouldn't be the player and person that I am today if I hadn’t chosen OHA."