Whilst most students were taking a well earned break of the XMAS holidays Mel Tremayne was working on a new technology for assessing hockey players and the watchful eye of centre Director David Thiel. An idea was hatched and there were no short of volenteers to help out. The results have been accepted for presententation at the upcoming Internation Sports Engineering Conference this July in Vienna. Sorry Mel you'll have exams instead.
Stick speed and ball control are two essential skills in elite field hockey and often measured as a drill to track player development. The Chapman ball control test requires a player to move the ball back and forth in a relatively small area in front of the player (called the “control box”) at the highest possible speed. Three 15 second trials are required with one timer and one scorer-recorder, but this procedure is cumbersome and labour intensive. A stick mounted accelerometer is a promising alternative.
Ball strike is clearly evident as a significant event on the axis perpendicular to the face of the hockey stick. The median value of the inter-strike interval and was found to be the most suitable indicator and was used to determine the Chapman score (=15/tm); the number of ball strikes for 15 seconds. It was found this method simplified the original Chapman test protocol by eliminating the need for three separate trials. For one of the tested subjects, their median value was 0.43 s (Chapman score 35) which is far greater than measurements from an elite player with an inter-hit median time of 0.33 s (Chapman score 45).
The technique is convenient, reliable and the median value is thought to be a more reliable measure of ball control and stick speed when compared with three 15 second hit counts. Future work will seek to verify the modified Chapman score by gaining additional data from elite and sub-elite players.