Fighter Pilot Training a Secret Weapon for Many on USA Hockey’s World Junior Championship Team
By Mel Fabrikant Wednesday, January 23, 2013, 03:51 PM EST
More than a dozen members of USA Hockey’s 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship team used The Hockey IntelliGym as part of their training regimen while members of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP). The same program that utilizes cognitive training technology originally developed for air force pilots to improve a player’s hockey-sense is now available to youth hockey players all across North America.
The 13 players are among the first hockey players in the world to complete two full seasons of training with the innovative new cognitive training tool which was built from software used to train fighter pilots. On January 5, Team USA earned the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships in Russia with a 3-1 victory over Sweden. The title marked just the USA’s third gold medal at the event.
The 13 U.S. medal-winners who have utilized the software-based training tool include: goalie John Gibson; defensemen Seth Jones, Jake McCabe, Connor Murphy, Patrick Sieloff, and Jacob Trouba; plus forwards Riley Barber, Cole Bardreau, Tyler Biggs, Rocco Grimaldi, Ryan Hartman, J.T. Miller, and Blake Pietila.
"The Hockey IntelliGym addresses an under-utilized aspect of training, and that is the mental side of the game. The deep learning sessions enable our players to work on a variety of situations in a controlled environment and continue to train their minds even after a day of practice and workouts," said Danton Cole, former NHL Stanley Cup winner and a current head coach at USA Hockey’s NTDP.
The Hockey IntelliGym helps hockey players develop and enhance hockey sense and awareness on the ice. Like any good training tool it can be customized to the level of the athlete. As a result, anyone from 10-year-old novices to future NHL stars can benefit in their own way from improved cognitive elements of hockey sense. The system adapts to the specific skills needed for goalies, defensemen or forwards.
It resembles a video game to the user, but it’s much more. The simulation stimulates specific cognitive skills that help develop cognitive functions responsible for controlling players’ on ice awareness, reaction speed, peripheral vision and anticipation. These are all key attributes that make up the hockey sense. The system entails no storyboarding or hockey graphics and as a result it strengthens the underlying brain skills needed under game speed and pressure. Most important, the program is individually tailored to each player’s strengths and weaknesses, tracking progress and adapting to new levels as players develop their hockey mind.
“The field of cognitive training has come far in the past decade and research clearly shows that just like any muscle, the brain can be strengthened to work better, faster and stronger with proper training,” said Danny Dankner CEO of ACE. “We have successful cognitive training program for air force pilots and basketball players, but this training program, designed in conjunction with USA Hockey, is specifically for hockey players as the speed of hockey and the skills needed to be a great player are unlike any other sport in the world.”
The Hockey IntelliGym, co-designed by USA Hockey and Applied Cognitive Engineering, is recommended for players ages 10 and up, and is available at www.usahockeyintelligym.com .
ABOUT THE HOCKEY INTELLIGYM
In 2008, USA Hockey joined together with ACE (Applied Cognitive Engineering) and the BIRD Foundation (Binational Industrial Research and Development) to develop The Hockey IntelliGym – a revolutionary product that provides hockey players with a training tool to develop their “hockey sense.” The technology developed for The Hockey IntelliGym was initially developed to train fighter pilots on cognitive brain level. Based on the same concept, a training program for basketball players called the Basketball IntelliGym was developed in 2004. The Hockey IntelliGym was honored in 2010 with the gold medal in Sharp Brains first annual Brain Fitness Innovation Awards.
ABOUT USA HOCKEY
USA Hockey, founded in 1936 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., provides the foundation for the sport of ice hockey in America; helps young people become leaders, sometimes Olympic heroes; and connects the game at every level while fostering a lifelong love of the sport. USA Hockey has a membership of nearly 600,000 players, coaches, officials and volunteers that span all 50 states.
ACE Applied Cognitive Engineering Ltd of Hod Hasharon, Israel, was founded in 2003. It is the developer of software based “brain gyms.” Its flagship patented technology – “Cognitive Simulation” is proven to increase trainees’ performance by 20%-40% on the field. The scientific concept behind the revolutionary training technology, were derived from the Air Force for training fighter pilots.