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The primary purpose of this study was to determine whether positional profiling is possible for elite ice hockey players by examining anthropometric characteristics and physiological performance. In addition, performance ranges and percentiles were determined for each position (forwards, defensemen, and goalkeepers) on all dependent variables.


A retrospective, cross-sectional study design was used with performance data from ice hockey players (mean age = 18.0 ± 0.6 years) attending the 2001 (n = 74), 2002 (n = 84), and 2003 (n = 92) Combines. Four anthropometric characteristics and 12 performance tests were the dependent variables. A 3 × 3 (position × year) 2-way ANOVA was used to determine whether any significant interactions were present. No significant interactions were observed, so the data were collapsed over the 3-year period and positional characteristics were analyzed using a 1-way ANOVA.


Defenders were heavier and/or taller compared with the other 2 positions (P ≤ .01), whereas goalkeepers showed greater body-fat percentage compared with that of forwards (P = .001). It was found that goalkeepers had significantly lower strength measures for the upper body (P ≤ .043) and lower anaerobic capacity (P ≤ .039) values compared with at least one other position, but they had greater flexibility (P ≤ .013). No positional differences were observed for the broad jump, vertical jump, aerobic power, or curl-ups.


The current findings provide evidence supporting the use of anthropometric measurements, upper body strength, and anaerobic capacity to effectively distinguish among positions for elite-level ice hockey players.

Vescovi and VanHeest are with the Dept of Kinesiology, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269-1110. Murray is with the Strength and Conditioning Dept, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY 40292.