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Finish First Insider, Issue #55
April 27, 2009
Welcome Back

Please enjoy another issue packed with evidence-based information about sports performance training and news about current events at Finish First Sports Performance. If you find value in this e-newsletter, please forward this message to your teammates, coaches, or other parents of hard working athletes.

Relevance of Off-Ice Testing for Ice Hockey

By Coach J. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Last weekend, Finish First Sports Performance was fortunate to provide the off-ice testing at tryouts for a local high level girlís hockey organization. Knowing that time and available space would be limited and there may be a large number of girls to be tested, I needed to determine which test(s) I would use to address fitness and performance that would also have a high correlation/relevance to on-ice performance. The tryouts were held at a non-Finish First Sports Performance location, so portability of testing equipment was also a concern. After much research, I decided that the broad jump (standing long jump test for power), body weight, and body composition using skinfold calipers would be the tests and measurements taken.

While most parents were very receptive to the testing, some parents didnít understand why off-ice testing was important or, more specifically, why these tests were important or how they were relevant to ice hockey.

For this article, I want to address the tests used at the tryouts, and touch on the subject of fitness and performance testing.

The standing long jump test is an indicator of leg power, which is extremely important in ice hockey, especially in acceleration. This test gives us an idea of how much force can be generated by the player in a rapid fashion (fast twitch fibers) to produce a powerful contraction which would be reflected by a jump of a longer distance. This test, along with other off-ice power tests, has been shown to have a high correlation with on-ice skating performance. The best performers in the broad jump test are usually also the fastest skaters on the ice. Based on the testing at the girlsí team evaluations, and on-ice observation (from team coaches), this was true again.

The body composition testing (4 sitesóabdomen, suprailiac, triceps, thigh--using Lang skinfold calipers) is a fitness test that measures subcutaneous fat (fat beneath the skin) to estimate total body composition. Again, high level athletes typically have a lower bodyfat percentage with a higher percentage of lean muscle mass. Hockey players carrying unnecessary (extra) weight have more difficulty maintaining high levels of fitness and power. The results from the recent tryout showed that the best jumpers were also in the top 5% of those tested in body compostion . The girls with the least amount of extra weight were the best jumpers, who were also the best skaters.

I would be naÔve to think that the girls who tested the best were the best hockey players, knowing that the physical element is only one part of the puzzle. However, testing athletes is a valuable tool to assess how well some of the players have been preparing, as well as how much potential each one has, and which ones need the most workódo the necessary work to show that they are serious about playing at a higher level. Testing needs to cover not only general fitness, but also performance. This is where the debate exists about VO2 Max testing and its relevance for hockey performance. Many advocates suggest that it may be the best predictor of skating fitness, whereas those opposing this suggest that VO2 Max testing doesnít account for genetic factors and discounts the fact that many athletes train specifically for the test being used. I think there is a relevance to the testing, but also understand there are some factors that may produce better results without a transfer to skating/hockey performance. That is why on-ice fitness and performance tests should also be used for optimal testing relevance.

Much testing has been done over the years, with many tests showing a high correlation with on-ice performance. One such test is the 40 yard dash. Testing with high level hockey players over years has shown that the fastest skaters also run the fastest 40 times. This is important because it supports the idea that faster runners/sprinters have the potential to be faster skaters. Training for acceleration and top end speed can help improve skating speed for hockey players. Training for power (tested in standing long jump) also helps improve skating speed.

OK, I think Iíve rambled on enough about testing, so, I leave you with the point that off-ice performance testing is relevant to physical on-ice performance. Recent testing of over 50 elite girls helps support this. If you have any questions about specific fitness and performance tests used for ice hockey or other sports, please contact Jeremy at 412-787-5070.

Hello Sun and Hello Vitamin D

By: Heather R Mangieri, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN Finish First Sports Performance Nutrition Advisor

I spent the last three days in Philadelphia for the Pennsylvania Dietetic Associationís annual conference and exhibit. I love the annual conference because I get to listen to other health care professionals display the results of their research and reviews on hot topics in nutrition. The best part was that I was blessed to be driving home in 80 degree weather with the sun shining brightly into my car. I rolled down my windows and imagined how the ultraviolet rays was penetrating through my skin and converting cutaneous 7-dehydrocholesterol to previtamin D3, which in turn would become vitamin D. How amazing and exciting. The best part was that I did not have to worry at all about getting enough Vitamin D that day through my diet. The sun was taking care of that for me.

Vitamin D is emerging as one of the most important vitamins in human health. Just to give you a little background, vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin. It is the only vitamin that we do not need to consume through food or supplements because our bodies can synthesize it through direct sunlight. Vitamin D is well known for helping the body absorb calcium (it is absolutely necessary for calcium absorption) and maintaining bone density, therefore playing a role in preventing osteoporosis. More recent research is showing vitamin Dís role in preventing certain cancers, heart disease, depression, muscle pain and weakness, multiple sclerosis, muscular strength, sarcopenia, stroke and the list goes on.

You would think, since we get vitamin D through sunlight, that deficiency would not be a problem. The reality is it is a huge problem. Vitamin D deficiencies are popping up all over the United States. There are many possible explanations for this new found issue. We know that we can synthesize vitamin D from the sun, however, not all sun exposure is the same and many different factors will affect how much we absorb it. The season, time of day, geography, latitude, level of air pollution, color of your skin, and your age all affect your skin's ability to produce vitamin D. Also, ultraviolet rays canít penetrate windows in your car or house (and we have become prone to air conditions rather than having the windows down), clothing or clouds. Today, other factors are affecting how much vitamin D we get from the sun. Children and adults are spending more time inside playing video games, watching TV or simply avoiding the sun. Further, as a nation we have become obsessed with sunscreen and attempting to block all UV radiation from our skin. All of these factors have led to an increase in Vitamin D deficiency in the United States.

The current recommended intake for vitamin D is 400 IU (international units) per day. Many health care professional are recommending 1000 IU per day for at risk individuals. Vitamin D is not found naturally in many foods. Historically, we have relied on sunlight to prevent deficiency. Today, supplementation needs to be considered. Consumers should be aware that the form of Vitamin D found in most multivitamins is vitamin D3, which does not deliver the same amount of the vitamin to the body as the more desirable D3 form. The type of vitamin D through supplements, mixed with the amount through your diet, the amount of sunlight you are exposed to, and many, many other factors will demonstrate how much supplementation that you may need.

Bottom line

Allow the sun to penetrate your skin for 15 minutes (the goal is not to let your skin burn), consume foods that contain vitamin D (fortified milk, salmon, tuna fish, eggs) and consider, if needed, supplementation. Lastly, remember that vitamin D is still considered the most toxic of all vitamins. You will not build up toxicity from the sun but you can from oral supplementation. Use caution. If you would like further guidance to determine your vitamin D needs, ask your doctor to have your vitamin D level checked and consider a nutritional consultation with a registered dietitian.

Scheduling for ALL Workouts

Effective April 1, 2009, all athletes will need to be scheduled for ALL workouts.

By scheduling all workouts, we will be able to better plan to prevent overcrowding and allow for optimal training conditions.

If you have any questions, please call Jeremy (412-787-5070).

Additional information will be available with details of how to schedule online!--Coming Soon!!!

Motivational Quotes

"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity."
-- Albert Einstein

"Spend eighty percent of your time focusing on the opportunities of tomorrow rather than the problems of yesterday."
-- Brian Tracy

"Four things come not back: The spoken word, The sped arrow, The past life, The neglected opportunity."
-- Arabian Proverb

"Even when opportunity knocks, you still have to get up off your seat and open the door."
-- Anonymous

ATTENTION: April Member Referral Bonus

Attention All Members:

During the month of April, all new member referral fees are doubled--yes--that is not a typo. Instead of the normal $50 credit towards your next membership, for every new member you introduce to Finish First Sports Performance, you will receive a whopping $100 credit towards your next membership (renewal).

Remember, in order to qualify, you must be a current/active member (with no outstanding balance) and the new member must commit to a minimum of 8 sessions or 1 month.

Spread the word and get $100!

(for more details, contact Jeremy 412-787-5070)

Thank You for Your Support

Thanks again for subscribing to this free e-newsletter. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoy writing it. I look forward to your feedback as I continue to research to bring you the most current scientific training information available.

Should you have any specific article requests or questions, email me at Please visit for detailed sports performance training information and programs offered exclusively by Finish First Sports Performance.

Yours In Training,

Coach Jeremy S. Hoy, CSCS, USAW, Jump Stretch, Inc. Certified,
Elite Performance Scientist

Finish First Sports Performance

For Finish First Insider backissues #1 - 29, click here

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