Training for on-ice success
Posted by Dean Holden at January 26th, 2014
by Josh Levine, 23 January 2014
Every year the NFL holds a combine where it puts players through a variety of different tests and drills. These help scouts evaluate the up-and-coming stars of the NFL. It seems reasonable to assume those who perform the best in the combines also will perform very well in the NFL. Yet, that’s not the case. We know combines are poor predictors of future success for NFL players.
An article in the Wall Street Journal notes: “According to a recent study by economists at the University of Louisville, there’s no ‘consistent statistical relationship’ between the results of players at the Combine and subsequent NFL performance1.”
The Harvard Sports Analysis blog conducted statistical analysis on combine measurements and specific positions to determine what, if anything, can predict future success. They used a metric, Career Approximate Value (CAV), to attempt to find correlations between combine results and on-field success. Even with the extensive analysis they performed, they concluded the “models are still very weak” and “at best explain 21 percent of the variance in production at a given position (for defensive positions)2.” Their analysis for offensive positions produced some significant results, but again, the models didn’t account for much of the variance in future performance.
The fundamental problem with the indicators from combines is they do not test athleticism. The bench press, squat, shuttle run and vertical jump all test elements of athleticism, but do not simulate the full spectrum of qualities an athlete needs to be considered athletic. Height and shuttle speed are important for a quarterback to be successful, but effectiveness at that position seems to be the combination of so many other intangible factors like poise and judgment.
Athleticism is the ability to synchronize speed, endurance, quickness, explosiveness, strength, coordination and power in an intelligent manner that allows an athlete to overcome diverse and unpredictable situations. In other words, athleticism is complex. Athleticism is not simply being able to do a set of skills under a finite amount of situations. True athleticism is adaptable to different situations. It is imaginative and creative, not repetitive and monotonous.
Hockey players and coaches should keep this in mind when training. Especially at the youngest ages, developing poise, creativity, foresight and the ability to read and react to opposing team movements is crucial. Where do you think these skills are best learned: on the pond for five hours on a Saturday afternoon or in our absurdly high-pressure parent-dominated games and tournaments?
1 Lehrer, Jonah. “Measurements That Mislead: From the SAT to the NFL, the problem with short-term tests.” Wall Street Journal [New York City] 02 APR 2011, n. pag. Web. 15 Jan. 2013.
2 Meers, Kevin. “Does the NFL Combine Matter: Defense.” The Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective. N.p., 28 FEB 2012. Web. Web. 15 Jan. 2013.
Josh Levine is a former Jefferson Jaguar, Princeton University graduate, founder of The Fortis Academy, and author of “Save Our Game: What’s wrong with hockey training today and how to fix it.”
Category: analytics, anticipation, athleticism, creativity, decision training, diversification, evaluation, expertise, Fitness / Training, fundamental movement skills, game intelligence, learning, LTAD, physical literacy, play, recommended reading / books, research, Skills, statistics, tactics, talent