Goalie project with Polar and GoaliePro

Goalie project with Polar and GoaliePro
05/09/2004 Juha Halmesvaara
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Article by Mika Laine, Product Manager, Team Sports Polar Electro Oy


Some good things start by coincident. You can say the same when Polar Electro Oy CEO Jorma Kallio sat down to his seat next to Jukka Ropponen from GoaliePro, both flying back home from Singapore. These guys did not know each other before but by the time they arrived to Finland, a mutual understanding about starting an ice hockey goalie project between these companies was clear.

Jukka, with his long term career as a goalie coach, brought up interesting needs of refining and fine tuning ice hockey goalies off-ice and on-ice exercises by monitoring and controlling the heart rates, even from distance. As known, many professional goalies have their own personal coaches who they consult throughout the season and they are not always present. Since Polar had the expertise, possibility and the tools to provide, it was a perfect foundation to this project.


The Art of goalie exercises

Every professional goalie, every coach has their own perspective how to exercise and how to prepare to the upcoming season. This is actually “the spice in the soup” in professional sports and totally understandable and acceptable. Basically there is no limitations for what is the strategy in “leading your troops” or how to fine tune your own preparation as long as you are aware of the nature and physiological demands of the sport. There are some ground rules to follow of course.


“Goalie, the individual among the team”

When compared to the different player positions, goalies have different physical demands than offensive or defensive players, this can be discovered from heart rate curves taken from the games. These specific curves are from Tampere Cup.

When field players ( red curve ) clearly have an interval-type of 30 to 60 sec, mainly anaerobic, work periods and from 5 to 7 shifts per set, are goalies ( black curve) facing 25 to 30min work periods per set mainly within aerobic threshold. The “catch” is that both positions need good aerobic endurance capabilities. Goalies need it for maintaining the good reaction level and performance during penalty killing and defensive periods that can raise the heart rate level over the anaerobic threshold i.e. 85% – 100% from maxHr. Good aerobic endurance level is the key factor in fast recovery. Players need it for maintaining the performance capacity and for fast recovery between shifts. The difference is that the work period for goalies is not so intermittent than with the offensive or defensive players and the recovery has to happen during the game, not on the bench. This emphasizes the importance of good aerobic capacity within the goalies.

“The higher the aerobic capacity, the faster lactic acid can be eliminated from the blood” ( Let’s beat them in Ice hockey: E. Westerlund, R. Summanen )


Polar Heart Rate monitor – “the human speedometer”

For monitoring the off-ice, on-ice exercises, made by Zurich Lions goalkeepers, are different Polar equipment used such as Polar Team System which is specifically designed for every team sport and does not require any wrist unit since the Team Transmitter belt collects all the data inside.

But special situations require special tools. As in this case, Jukka Ropponen being Zurich Lions goalie coach, but not having the possibility to be present all the time, was emphasizing that there has to be a way to collect the heart rate data from practices and some way of sending those to be evaluated by him.

Solving this situation, both Zurich goalies use S610i for off-ice practices and will use special helmet receivers for on-ice practices. The first field test for the helmet receiver made by Polar indicated that there is no interference and the HR data from the exercise was perfectly saved

Picture 2:

Picture 3: Polar S810i modification of the helmet receiver

In practice, these guys will use helmet receivers with regular- or Team transmitters and then send the heart rate data to the coach via email to be evaluated.


What is the basic advantage of using heart rate monitors?

As said in the heading of this chapter, heart rate monitors are tools for adjusting the right intensities for the right exercises and it works as an “human speedometer” telling you when to slow down or pick up the pace. The idea is that after the individual maximum heart rate (maxHr) is determined or known, you set the limits according to that figure by using either percentage values from it:

60% to 70% from maxHr refers to: recovering and light intensity exercise. Perfect zone for recovery exercises. 70% to 85% from maxHr refers to: moderate to heavy intensity exercise. This is the intensity zone where aerobic capabilities are developed.

85% to 100% from maxHr refers to: heavy to maximal intensity. To be able to maintain quality performance on work periods, one have to build good aerobic condition but as well do drills which are within this (mainly anaerobic) zone. The specific anaerobic threshold value varies from each player but this can be used as a basic rule .

Or use aerobic- and anaerobic thresholds tested from each player. This requires lactate level testing during condition testing to maximal effort. As a side product, you get the maximum heart rate as well.

So all in all, during on-ice practices it’s impossible to follow any limits, but when the heart rate data is collected from those and the intensities are known, it’s easy to adjust the drills of your off-ice and off-season exercises to achieve the peak performance for the upcoming season.

As this project proceeds we are able to provide more information in detail about heart rate based goalie exercises.