Acquiring that Ever-Elusive Hockey Sense
Hockey sense. Elusive and unteachable– either you were born with it, or you have not... until NOW.
The leadership of USA Hockey, responsible for the game’s continuous evolution in the U.S. and for the development of its best players, was thrilled to discover that hockey sense can be improved, with the proper technology to cultivate players’ minds. This where Applied Cognitive Engineering (ACE) entered the picture. Our team of cognitive psychologists, computer engineers, and game theorists first applied our award-winning software (developed to train precise instincts in military fighter pilots) to basketball, with stunned coaches reporting a 30% increase in player stats and team wins. We then partnered with USA Hockey to adapt the technology once more, integrating its cutting edge brain science expertise with the hockey know-how provided by USA Hockey. If anyone could actively cultivate hockey sense, it would be our team of experts. And guess what? We did.
|The National Teams
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Since 2008, ACE has been working with USA Hockey to develop The Hockey IntelliGym®, a cognitive training system for Ice Hockey players. Interestingly, a deep joint research study showed that although ice hockey is much faster paced and more aggressive than basketball, many of the building blocks needed to develop the trainer were found to be similar. The initial stage of beta development with USAH's NTDP (National Teams Development Program) had coaches amazed at the difference the tool has made in their teams' performance.
"They just started to make plays under pressure that I hadn't seen prior to them using the IntelliGym"
Using head-mounted camera footage in ice hockey to simulate real time players experience, researchers mapped the game in players’ brains just like they did with basketball, and developed the hockey cognitive training system accordingly.
Making the Brain Play the Game: The Ultimate Assist
All of this hard science has produced a fairly easy-to-use product for ascending players and their coaches, completely redefining the term “circuit training.”
Each player installs his or her own copy of The IntelliGym® on his or her home computer (a standard PC or Mac). Once the program is launched, the 'game' instructions are presented. For best results, the players are advised to practice 1-3 training sessions a week of up to 30 minutes per session.
IntelliGym's cognitive simulation of the game - in real time – entails no storyboard and no fantasy graphics. The goal is to integrate the details of the game into a player's barest attention, until anticipating plays becomes a deep instinct. Most importantly, the program is individually tailored to each player's strengths and weaknesses, tracking progress and adapting to new levels of play as the player develops hockey sense. In most cases, by the time the player has completed 8-10 training sessions, the results are clearly seen on the ice.
The beta results with the National Teams had coaches cheering: In January 2009, the US National U17 team won the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, beating teams from Canada, Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic. That same year, the US National U18 team increased their win ratio from 29% to 70% after only ten IntelliGym training sessions, eventually winning the IIHF World Under-18 Championship – skating all the way to a gold medal. Such an improvement is much greater than any change in the wins ratio recorded in previous years. In all, over two seasons of IntelliGym usage, the US U17 and U18 National teams won gold in 9 out of 12 international tournaments they participated!
IntelliGym's outstanding collaboration with USA Hockey has already garnered world class scientific recognition, winning the 2010 Sharp Brains Innovation Award.
The Hockey IntelliGym: Tech Specs
- The application is a downloadable program. Each user has a personal user name and a password
- Runs on any personal computer with Internet connection
- Runs on all common operating systems (Windows, Mac)
- Training session duration: up to 30 minutes
- Recommended regimen: two training sessions per week, with at least 48 hours break between them
- Training data is sent online to the IntelliGym servers, which then personalize the training program to each individual based on his strengths, weaknesses, and progress
- Coaches / parents receive attendance and progress reports
- Results on the ice are seen after 10-15 training sessions on average
Jim Johannson, Assistant Executive Director of Hockey Operations for USA Hockey