Measuring the External Load of Female and Male Varsity Ice Hockey Players During Games with a Local Positioning System
Athlete load monitoring has been a focus of athletes, coaches, and researchers for many years. Traditional external load measures focus on the time, and length or distance of exposure, especially in endurance sports. Local positioning systems (LPS) allow for the quantification of external load in indoor sports. Only recently, this technology has been used to measure the workload of ice hockey players, which can provide new practical and thorough opportunities to optimize health and performance. The first study of this thesis examined the reliability and validity of the Kinexon LPS for measuring external load in ice hockey players during an on-ice practice. The second study used LPS to quantify and compare the external load for both female and male varsity ice hockey players during regular season games. The third study quantified player statistics and novel LPS-derived external load metrics during a male varsity ice hockey game across three periods of regulation time (60 min) and two additional periods of overtime (40 min) for positions and all players. This thesis provides novel LPS-derived descriptive information that quantified the external load of varsity ice hockey players during games, and this is the first research to do so in females. The main conclusions include, i) the majority of Kinexon LPS-derived measures of external load were reliable, ii) speed and acceleration measures during 40 m linear sprints were valid when compared to a previously validated robotic sprint device, iii) both female and male ice hockey players had high external loads during games, with males having higher external loads than females, iv) defence had greater external load at low intensities, but forward players had greater external load at higher intensities, and v) males maintained their high external load across periods, even during 5 periods of an extended championship game. Given the differences in external loads between sexes, positions, and levels of play, an individual approach is likely best when monitoring player load and performance. Future research should assess relationships between external and internal load, and external load and player response (i.e., injury, performance, recovery, etc.) to these loads, to optimize player health and performance.