Is hockey an aerobic or anaerobic sport?

Molly Morgan
Nutrition & Dietetics

Hockey is primarily an anaerobic sport from a game perspective for forward and defensive players. Think of an offensive rush that leads to a shot on net or a defensive rush that leads to a shot being blocked. The entire minute or two shift is primarily anaerobic. Goalies, who are typically on the ice for the entire 3-periods of play, will use more of a mix of energy systems (aerobic and anaerobic) and off-ice and on-ice hockey training typically is a mix of aerobic and anaerobic.

Research from the NASM and the Physiological Basis for Exercise and Sport shows that during competition, nearly 70% of the energy systems being used are anaerobic. Important considerations for implementing a performance enhancement program, especially one with a high degree of specificity.

When watching a hockey game you will see that there is a high anaerobic demand put on the athlete, followed by about a minute and a half break. This brings us to the conclusion that hockey is truly an anaerobic sport. The power that a hockey player must generate while out on their shift is very high. They need to use their legs to generate power for every stride they take on the ice. Even more demanding is the deceleration and repeated accelerations that need to be performed in a short period of time. The recovery period is very important to allow the athlete to replenish the anaerobic system so they can repeat the next shift at the same intensity. Without this recovery it would not bepossible to maintain this anaerobic level. Training for hockey ideally consists of a lot of anaerobic power sessions built around forty-five second intervals and aerobic training to build up cardiovascular base to help with the long season.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.