Wearing a surgical mask while playing hockey has no effect on children’s performance, according to a new study from the University of Saskatchewan, which comes as the COVID-19 pandemic enters its fourth wave.
The study looked at the impact of wearing a mask on youth hockey players aged nine to fourteen.
“COVID-19 is very easily spread during hockey,” said Phil Chilibeck, the primary investigator.
“The players are playing close to each other, they’re working up a sweat, and the venues aren’t well ventilated.”
Researchers found wearing a mask didn’t negatively affect players’ performance on the ice, and didn’t have much impact on their physiology.
“A little bit lower oxygen levels at the muscle but not enough to impact their performance,” Chilibeck noted.
However, he said some participants reported they felt like they were exercising harder.
“If they’re wearing masks while playing hockey, that’s something to consider. Maybe a coach would want to implement a shorter shift for those players,” he said.
Researchers said they hope the study encourages players, especially those unvaccinated, to mask up while taking part in the game.