“Minnesota High School hockey is the premiere level, at this age group, nationally,” head coach Sean Goldsworthy told In The Know.
Hockey is the most popular high school sport in the state. The season is made up of 22 tournaments which generates an average of over 100,000 attendees total. Hockey to Minnesota is more than just a game and when the calendar year comes around to February and March, the only topic of discussion and form of entertainment that matters is the boys’ high school hockey league.
“When you’re playing in front of 18,000 people and you’re only 17 years old, your ability to hold a thought and concentrate can be under a lot of stress,” Goldsworthy said.
Goldsworthy explained that the game is ultimately about time and space, which are aspects players can work on both on and off the ice. That’s where IntelliGym comes into the picture. IntelliGym is a program that helps players get better on the ice, while they’re off the ice.
Each session is cut into 30-minute parts which challenge the players’ abilities to make quick decisions. It has the optics of playing a regular video game, but it is designed to be a cognitive trainer.
“You’re actually training your brain to handle multiple sources of information at the same time,” Goldsworthy said. “If you can predict the play one or two seconds ahead, you’re most likely going to make a better decision, but you’re also going to make a decision on the right time sequence.”
This aspect, according to Goldsworthy, is crucial. IntelliGym also builds off of the individual athlete playing the game. If a player performs well during a 30-minute session, the game will adjust to add in more obstacles. The program is very difficult.
“Failure has to be there, consistently,” said Goldsworthy. “In developing an athlete, there needs to be conflict, there needs to be failure in your program so the athlete can learn and react accordingly.”
Goldsworthy anticipates virtual training and the incorporation of technology to start infiltrating other high school sports across the country. The lessons on decision-making, time and space that his players learn from IntelliGym are too valuable to not consider implementing if schools are serious about their student athletes.