Taking a Look at Firstbeat Sports at Detroit Red Wings Development Camp

Each summer teams across the NHL have an opportunity to host a week long development camp. Red Wings Head Coach Jeff Blashill views their team’s camp as an opportunity to educate young players and introduce them to life in the NHL.

“I think it is important for the young guys to come in and get comfortable;” Blashill explains, “to be around Red Wings; to be around Ken Holland; to be around the coaching staff, so when they come to main camp it’s not quite as aweing, so they can be a little more comfortable. I think when people are comfortable you usually get their best, and so I think that is a big factor in it. I mean, if they can take home a little bit of how hard you have to train, how much attention to detail you have to pay, I think it is a benefit to us and to them.”

For newly drafted and prospective Red Wing players, one aspect of learning to be a professional NHL player is becoming familiar with Firstbeat Sports monitoring system.

The training and recovery data provided by Firstbeat gives the Red Wings coaching staff critical information that allows them to make educated decisions about how to best prepare each player to give the team the maximum chance of success. It also gives young players vital data they can use to understand their bodies and become better players.

In this Red Wings TV produced video, Pivot Sports President John Lally explains how he and Red Wings Strength and Conditioning Coach Mike Kadar use the Firstbeat Sports analytics platform to transform heartbeat data into personalized training and recovery insights for the team.


How to utilize Firstbeat Sports in ice hockey?
Firstbeat Manager of Professional Sports Veli-Pekka Kurunmäki shares his expertise.

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Transcript (2:05 – 4:25)

I have been doing the heart rate thing for about 10 years now. Our company is based out of Finland. We have a bunch of sports scientists that run and founded the company around 15 years ago, and I have been working with Mike Kadar since 2006. We have sort of gone through a number of iterations of this software, and heart rate monitoring system.

So internal loading, we are talking heart rate, we are talking HRV, we are talking parasympathetic nervous system. What is the heart doing when an athlete is resting or recovering? So we can gain valuable insight into whether an athlete can handle the workload, handle the travel by looking at a short resting test like we are demonstrating today.

We get a unique number for any workout; on ice, off ice, in the weight room, in the yoga studio. We get what we call the Training Effect score. And the Training Effect is on a 1 to 5 scale and it summarizes the training load for the entire session. This session was a 3.5 out of 5, or a 4.5. So in the games the other day, the scrimmages, I saw some 4.5 Training Effects. This is just a high intense number, and the physiological meaning behind a 4.5 is a highly improving workout.

Each level, a one, a two, a three, a four, and a five has meaning and it’s easy to understand. We can give the average Training Effect for the forwards; the average Training Effect for the defensemen; so the coaches can easily see how hard is the session, is it where we want it to be on this given day.

There are a lot of learning points that happen when you train with data. And when we do the Quick Recovery Test, when we do the skate test, the players, and I view this as a huge positive for this group, the players who want to get better are thirsty for knowledge. When they come over to me to talk about “What was my lowest heart rate? What was my recovery score? How high did I get in the game? What was my highest heart rate?” that is a beautiful thing. Because what they are doing is formulating an understanding of themselves. The more they care about their fitness level, when all these things start to mean something to them, the better they are going to be in the long run.

They all want to know the details, so when they crowd around and they’re asking for information, I’m there. It’s like great, let’s teach, let’s get better, let’s get stronger.