When it comes to sport, many see skill and talent as being the driving forces behind success. While these are important aspects of a sportsperson’s rise, their physical attributes are what will separate them from the other talents. Having strength often helps but endurance is the real deciding factor. In sports that demand a sportsperson to push themselves for the duration of the game or match, endurance is critical. They could be the most skillful player in the world but if they haven’t got the engine to make it to the end of the game, they are only of use for a short spell and then underperform when they start to run on empty. The best sportspeople know the importance of endurance and how it can bolster their play, even in sports that don’t inherently appear to be stamina-oriented.
In most formats of ice hockey, teams will have three or four lines of players that take it in turns to play on the ice, usually for a minute or so at a time. So, endurance may not appear to be of the utmost importance to ice hockey players. However, ice hockey is a very physical game in which players battle unsteady footing brought by the ice as well as the body-checking tackles utilized in the game. Defensemen tend to spend the most time on the ice due to there being less of them in a team’s lines and how the penalty kill situations impact the team. In the NHL, Drew Doughty, Ryan Suter, Erik Karlsson, and Rasmus Ristolainen all average over 26 minutes per game. On the more physical side, many NHL players average over three hits per game, with the likes of Milan Lucic on 171 hits in 56 games, and Michael Del Zotto on 166 hits in 58 games. They need to possess high levels of endurance to deal with the game, and to perform quick and hard sprints on skates, as well as the strength to deal out body-checks and to sustain them on a regular basis, as shown by Live Strong. The fact that these players step out on the ice three or four times a week heightens their need for endurance with the strength to carry them through the season.
Talent and skill will always be important in sport, as will training hard and having the right diet but, when it comes down to it, even in sports where endurance doesn’t appear to be important from the outside, it can make the world of difference. Being able to perform at your highest level for longer periods of time, allowing you to go all-out with greater regularity, improves performances and in turn increases your rate of improvement. When it comes to improving in a sport, start with endurance training and build from there.