The influence of shaft stiffness on potential energy and puck speed during wrist and slap shots in ice hockey
The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between hockey stick shaft stiffness and puck speed with mechanical energy considerations during stationary wrist and slap shots. Thirty left-handed pro-model composite hockey sticks, submitted by eleven hockey stick manufacturers, were subjected to a mechanical cantilever bend test to determine the shaft stiffness of each stick. Eight sticks representing the entire spectrum of stiffnesses were then used by five elite male hockey players to perform stationary wrist and slap shots in a laboratory setting. Eight infra-red high-speed digital video cameras were used to capture shaft deformation and puck speed. A second mechanical test then replicated the loading patterns applied to each stick during shooting. Force-deformation data from this test were used to determine the shaft stiffness and potential energy storage and return associated with each stick during shooting. The results of this study suggest that shaft stiffness has an influence on puck speed in wrist but not slap shots. During a wrist shot, a given player should realise higher puck speeds with a stick in which they store increased elastic potential energy in the shaft. In general, flexible sticks were found to store the most energy. However, how the athlete loads the stick has as much influence on puck speed as stick construction. Energy considerations were unable to explain changes in puck speed for the slap shot. For this type of shot it is the athlete and not the equipment influencing puck speed, but the governing mechanisms have yet to be elucidated.
Keywordsbiomechanics energy hockey stiffness shooting stick
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