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HockeySTRONG, Sport Performance Training, Sport Physiotherapy, Sports Therapy, Training
4 reasons off-season screening is important for hockey players
July 2, 2018 | by Ryan Murray, Fortius Physiotherapist

Depending on the athlete and their stage of development, there are essential movement qualities and skills that an athlete needs to optimize performance.

Each athlete’s body is unique and requires an individualized plan that is specific to their needs – and hockey is no exception.

At the beginning of the Fortius pro performance and high-performance HockeySTRONG programs, athletes undergo a full screen with a performance therapist.

Here are four reasons why this off-season screening is important:



Hip mobility with a Fortius physiotherapist.

One of the main purposes of an off-season hockey screen is to flag existing injuries that may place an athlete at risk for safe participation in their off-season training. It is important to assess how these injuries are being managed and how the athlete is recovering. The results of the assessment will determine how soon an athlete can enter an intensive off-season training program, and how the program needs to be tailored to facilitate their injury recovery.



Hockey screening with a Fortius physiotherapist.

There is limited evidence to suggest that screens can predict future injury. However, as a physiotherapist, we know there are risk factors that predispose athletes to injury. Part of the athlete assessment includes a movement screen to determine if the athlete has the capacity to get into the optimal position required for their sport or exercise program.

For example, a loss of hip range of motion and adductor muscle strength are risk factors in developing a groin injury1-4. Also, a poor performance of a squat may be due to a number of factors including decreased ankle range of movement, insufficient hip stability or poor squat technique.

Identifying and treating the driver or cause of an athlete’s inefficient movement can help to reduce injury risk. Without identifying and eliminating movement faults or compensations, we run the risk of putting strength on top of dysfunction and increasing asymmetries in the body which can ultimately lead to increased injury in the future.

We also know that previous injury is the most powerful predictor of future injury. For example, the highest risk for a groin injury is a previous groin injury5. Therefore, if an athlete has had a history of groin pain and presents with limited hip range of motion and strength, the groin is an area that should be given special attention during an off-season training program.



Baseline Testing for hockey players at Fortius.

Working together with our applied sport scientists, we also conduct a series of baseline tests for strength, endurance and movement efficiency to identify where an athlete is starting from. The results of these and our other assessments provide an accurate reflection of what the athlete needs in order to be successful in their sport.

This baseline data also allows our HockeySTRONG team to further tailor their strength & conditioning programs, measure the athlete’s progress, changes over time and compare athlete populations based on position, time of year and stage of development.

The information the off-season screen provides will also educate the athletes on their own physiology and give them the opportunity to utilize their personal data in their training. Screening provides athlete-centred care, where the athlete has input into their physiological assessment and into the ensuing goal setting for their off-season training.



Baseline test results for hockey players at Fortius.

In summary, an off-season screen can help identify an athlete’s largest physiological barriers to successful performance. Utilizing information from off-season screening helps to tailor and individualize programming to provide the appropriate stimulus to meet the athlete’s needs and subsequently their performance on and off the ice.



Our final high performance off-season HockeySTRONG program kicks off this week! It’s not too late—register now by calling 604.292.2502 or emailing fitness@fortiussport.com.
Visit our website to learn more about physiotherapist sessions and assessments at Fortius.



  1. Tak I, Engelaar L, Gouttebarge V, Barendrecht M, Van Den Heuvel S, Kerkhoffs G, et al. Is lower hip range of motion a risk factor for groin pain in athletes? A systematic review with clinical applications. Br J Sports Med. 2017;51(22):1611–21.
  2. Verrall GM, Hamilton IA, Slavotinek JP, Oakeshott RD, Spriggins AJ. Hip joint range of motion reduction in sports-related chronic groin injury diagnosed as pubic bone stress injury. J Sci Med Sport. 2005;8(1):77–84.
  3. Malliaras P, Hogan A, Nawrocki A, Crossley K, Schache A. Hip flexibility and strength measures: Reliability and association with athletic groin pain. Br J Sports Med. 2009;43(10):739–44.
  4. Tyler TF, Nicholas SJ, Campbell RJ, Mchugh MP. The Association of Hip Strength and Flexibility With the Incidence of Adductor Muscle Strains in Professional Ice Hockey Players. Am J Sport Med. 2001;29(2):124–128.
  5. Ryan JDeBurca N, McCreesh, K. Risk Factors for groin/hip injuries in field based sports: a systematic review. British Journal of Sports Medicine. 2014;48:1089-96
  6. Joyce D, Lewindon. Sport Injury Prevention and Rehabilitation. Integrating Medicine and Science for Performance Solutions. 2016
  7. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Consensus Statement on Periodic Health Evaluation of Elite Athletes: March 2009 Journal of Athletic Training 2009;44(5):538–557