The 2023 NHL Combine continued in Buffalo on Saturday morning as 106-draft eligible NHL-hopefuls participated in fitness testing day at LECOM Harborcenter. 

The annual combine featured a class of 65 forwards, 34 defensemen and seven goalies, according to Seven of the 11 fitness tests took place on Saturday which included; standing height/wingspan, standing horizontal jump, force plate vertical jump, bench press, pro agility test, pull ups, Wingate Cycle Ergometer test). 

Standing Height Test:

A portable height measuring device will be employed. The athlete must be without footwear, heels together with the backs of the feet touching the base of the device. The body should be fully erect, the shoulders relaxed and the arms stretched downward. To make the measurement, the square is positioned to rest on the top of the head, the athlete is instructed to raise great toes and take a large breath to fully expand spine. Height is measured to the nearest 0.25 inch from the highest point on the measuring device.

Standing Horizontal Jump Test:

The athlete stands with feet slightly apart with toes behind the jumping line. Using an arm swing to assist, the athlete jumps as far as possible. The distance from the jumping line to the heel mark in the best of three trials is recorded to the quarter inch.

Force Plate Horizontal Jump (split into the vertical jump, no arm jump, squat jump): 

An AccuPower Dual Force Plate system will be used to objectively measure the direction, strength and timing of the three-dimensional (3D) forces that the athlete produces during hockey related movement. The AccuPower system also captures synchronized video data from two high speed cameras and overlays the 3D force vector produced from each leg.The test will provide immediate feedback allowing teams to assess movement efficiency, physical performance and injury potential. 

The force plate is used to get a performance profile which is the ground reaction force (GRF) profile created by an athlete during movement. GRF is the 3D force exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it. For example, a person standing motionless on the ground exerts a contact force on it (equal to the person’s weight). Even on ice, the interaction with the ground determines performance, injury, and conditioning. This GRF interaction highlights the need for athletes to develop the right sequence or performance markers as opposed to just muscle groups or body parts. The vertical jump combines the two qualities of sprint (quick) and agility (smooth) components. Ideally, athletes quickly load the vertical jump on their downward descent, before smoothly stopping and using this energy to accelerate upwards to jump. By analyzing the whole force vs time curve, teams can individualize and identify what the athlete needs to improve upon in order to dramatically increase their performance and reduce injury rates. Three jump types will be performed: Vertical Jump (with arm swing), No Arm Jump (no arm swing / hands on hips) and Squat Jump (squat start / hands on hips). 

Bench Press Test:

Conducted using a standard padded bench with the athlete lifting 50% of his body weight (pre-determined) utilizing free weights (including the barbell). The athlete lies on his back on the bench and grips the barbell with thumbs approximately shoulder width apart. The buttocks must remain on the bench with the feet on the floor. The starting position is with the arms fully extended, The bar is lowered to the chest, after a slight pause, athlete pushes the bar as quickly as possible until their arms are fully extended. Each athlete will perform three (3) reps at maximum velocity, with a slight pause between each rep at the chest position. A “Gym Aware” device will be used to measure the velocity of the bar and the player’s ability to produce power and the reported ‘best score’ will be measured in average watts/kg.

Pro Agility Test:

5-10-5 yard shuttle (or 15-30-15 feet) evaluates multi-directional speed, agility and whole body reaction plus control. This is a timed test utilizing a laser timer.

Pull ups:

Evaluates athletes forearm and upper arm flexor muscular strength plus endurance along with core stabilization. Records the maximum number of consecutive repetitions performed with the correct technique.

Wingate Cycle Ergometer Test:

The athlete Is positioned on a professional grade spin bike (Watt Bike) cycle ergometer so that when the pedals are turned the leg that is in the “down” position is just slightly less than fully extended. The feet should be secured to the pedals in stirrups. The athlete warms up by pedaling at a low resistance for two minutes. To start the test, the athlete pedals at a progressively quicker cadence so that by the time the designated workload has been reached, he is pedaling at his maximal capacity. The athlete pedals at his maximal capacity against the designated workload for 30 seconds. Athlete must remain firmly seated on the bike throughout the test. Revolutions are recorded for each five second period, then power output is calculated for both the peak five second period and the 30 second duration.

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