Ice hockey is often described as the fastest team game,1-9 yet the speed and style of play have led to descriptions of ice hockey as a violent, aggressive sport2 with a high risk for a myriad of injuries.10 Ice hockey is a game played by two opposing teams, each consisting of six players (on the ice at any one time), made up of three forward players (a center and a right and a left winger), two defense players, and a goaltender. The objective of the game is for one team of players to place the puck into the opponents’ goal by overcoming the defensive strategies and tactics of the opposition.
Ice hockey is played on an ice rink that is close to 200-ft in length and 100-ft in width. The playing surface, or rink, has rounded corners with a circular radius of 28-ft and is enclosed by 4-ft-high boards that can be made of wood, plastic, or fiberglass.
Independent ice hockey governing bodies organize and regulate rules concerning the use of certain types of equipment, protocols, and procedures. The ice hockey governing bodies are also responsible for adjudicating events that occur within the various leagues and for enforcing punitive measures on individuals who break the rules. However, there are great differences in the rules across the various leagues as well as the consequences for infractions of the rules. For example, while all players participating in formal ice hockey leagues must wear ice hockey skates (not speed skates or figure skates), there is no unanimity concerning the use of dental protection or face shields. Likewise, while body checking is not tolerated in some leagues, it is encouraged in others. Such variability of rules and styles of play contributes to the difficulties in providing a comprehensive scientific description of the events within the sport and the techniques required to participate.
The purpose of this chapter is to outline the biomechanics of ice hockey beginning with a breakdown of the various skills that combine to enable an individual to participate. The skill breakdown is followed by a description of muscle actions required to perform the various skills. The section concludes with the kinematic and kinetic analyses of the motions required in the game of ice hockey. The second section is intended to discuss the etiology of ice hockey injuries and the importance of age, anthropometrics, and governance on injury risk. The third section covers the various ways that injuries can be prevented, especially warm-up exercises and stretching routines. The final section is a presentation of the specific rehabilitation techniques for injured ice hockey players. It is important to note that although ice hockey research has been reported in several languages, the information presented in this chapter is limited to previous research in English or French.
Biomechanics of Ice Hockey
Ice hockey is a complex sport that ...