A new study released by Laurentian University's Institute for Sport Marketing (ISM) confirms what every die-hard fan already instinctively believes: cheering on a hockey team does have an impact on player's performance and, in combination with other factors, can help influence the outcome of even the most nail-biting of games.
The study, which surveyed 24 members of the Canada’s National Women’s Team, found that 66.6% believe a supportive Canadian crowd at a major championship was important or very important to their performance. This finding was supported by additional research of almost 200 high-performance Canadian hockey players which agreed that while cheering isn't as crucial as physical preparation or coaching, the impact of a supportive environment was important or very important to enhancing their on-ice performance.
ISM followed a three-part method for the study that established home advantage as important, identified and articulated the key factors for the National Women’s Team's on-ice performance from a potential list of all types of factors, including six related to fan support, and validated this with a broader sample of hockey players from across Canada and with varying levels of experience.
"When we examined 33 possible variables affecting players during a game, we found that while obvious factors like coaching, mental training, high performance support, and physical preparedness are paramount to all athletes for optimum performance, cheering can also impact the on-ice performance of both our elite National Women’s Team and other high performance players surveyed," said Professor Norman O'Reilly, who led Laurentian University's study. "These results confirm what fans have believed all along – that crowd support is an integral part of competition and has the ability to play a supporting role in changing the outcome of a game."
The study also suggests that fans who relish jeering or booing the opposing team may make better use of their efforts by showing support for their own team instead. Results uncovered only two of the 24 members of the National Women’s Team indicated that booing was an important or very important factor to limiting their on-ice performance. This suggests their experience playing at major championships has them block out negative distractions like an unfriendly crowd, a finding supported by previous research.
"As a player, I always felt a rush of adrenalin when I stepped on the ice to the sounds of screaming fans," said Cassie Campbell, the former captain of the National Women’s Team and a winner of Olympic gold medals in 20. "When you know you have the support of your fans and your country, there's nothing stopping you from going the distance and giving all you've got in order to win."
Though Canadians are enjoying the last weeks of summer, today's release of the findings comes at a time when the country's national teams – including the men's, women's, junior and sledge teams – have begun training for the upcoming season which begins with the annual IIHF World Junior Championship starting on in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan. Given Canada's recent success at the IIHF World Junior Championship, winning five-consecutive gold medals, Canadian hockey fans are hopeful that this year will see the team continuing the country's gold medal winning streak.
PEPSI, GATORADE HELPING HOCKEY FANS DEVELOP A UNIFIED VOICE
Recognizing the lack of a uniquely Canadian hockey cheer to support Hockey Canada's national teams at high-level competitions like the IIHF World Junior Championship, the Pepsi and Gatorade brands are launching a movement to help unify the voices, hearts and spirits of hockey fans in order to show their support for teams at all levels of competition. From September 4 to , Canadian hockey fans can upload a video, or picture plus audio clip or text and photo in English, French or in both languages, of what they think Hockey Canada's national cheer should be. The winning cheer will be revealed at the World Junior A Challenge on .
"Other teams have coined cheers, like Manchester United's ‘Come On You Reds’ or New Zealand's unique ‘Kapa o Pango’ which also features dance moves meant to intimidate the opposing team," noted Dale Hooper, vice-president of marketing for PepsiCo Beverages Canada, a business unit of PepsiCo Canada ULC. "Even though Canada has the strongest hockey teams and the most passionate fans in the world, we don't have a cheer – a unified voice – used by all Canadians to show our encouragement and pride in our country and players. Pepsi and Gatorade are thrilled to be able to give hockey fans the chance to create a national cheer and movement to encourage our teams to victory, starting at the World Juniors in Saskatoon."
During the voting period from October 19 to , fans can cast their vote for their favourite cheer. The winner will be rewarded with a once-in-a-lifetime VIP trip for two to the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Saskatoon and a trip for two to the 2010 IIHF World Championship in Germany where they will be given the opportunity to lead the Canadian fans with their winning cheer with the support of Cameron Hughes, professional sports fan. Fans who cast a vote for the winning cheer will have a chance to instantly win various 'cheer gear' prizes and the chance to win a Team Canada replica jersey autographed by Canada’s National Junior Team.
"No matter where in the world Hockey Canada plays, beginning with the endless hours spent training to the moment the team takes to the ice, the players represent the values and traditions associated with the sport of hockey and of our country," said Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. "We're delighted to be a part of the Pepsi and Gatorade brands' movement to give Canadian hockey fans the opportunity and large-scale forum to create an unmistakable and uniquely Canadian cheer to show the world their pride, passion and encouragement."
For more information on the movement to create a national hockey cheer, research findings or for additional contest details, please visit www.pepsi.ca .
PepsiCo Beverages Canada, a business unit of PepsiCo Canada ULC is a leader in the Canadian beverages industry and markets a variety of beverages under the following trade-marks: PEPSI, DIET PEPSI, 7UP, MOUNTAIN DEW, MUG, AQUAFINA, SOBE, LIPTON and BRISK ICED TEAS, STARBUCKS BOTTLED FRAPPUCCINO, GATORADE, DOLE and TROPICANA.
The Gatorade portfolio includes the nation's leading sports drink(i), Gatorade thirst quencher, as well as G2(R) electrolyte beverage and Propel Fit Water(R) vitamin enhanced water. Gatorade is designed to meet the needs of all athletes, no matter where they're active, is backed by more than 40 years of research and is scientifically formulated and athletically proven to quench thirst, replace fluids and provide carbohydrate energy for athletic performance. G2 is a 30-calorie electrolyte beverage. Propel Fit Water is a lightly flavored vitamin-enhanced water with just 25 calories per 591 mL bottle. PepsiCo Canada's overall hydration portfolio includes leadership brands Gatorade and Aquafina(R). For more information, please visit gatorade.ca and pepsi.ca