Recently, concussion prevention and management have been at the forefront of ice hockey discussions regarding player safety. Over the past decade, hockey has undoubtedly become a faster game. Some players are unable to fully control their speed on the ice or are unable to recognize what is happening around them, which can result in injury. Oftentimes, as two players are racing toward the puck, one is not able to react quickly enough to avoid checking the other player illegally or missing the other player entirely and going into the boards. Such a scenario can result in a concussed player. What if both players had the cognitive ability to react quicker to the play, or had been scientifically trained to see the ice in ways they were not able to previously?
Players often report that they did not see the other player or were unable to react fast enough to the player in front of them and therefore could not stop in order to avoid checking from behind. Players also tell coaches that they saw the player coming at them but were unable to react quickly enough to avoid the oncoming check. Naturally, if players could anticipate better, react faster or even cope better with end-of-game fatigue, many of those injuries could be prevented.
The Hockey IntelliGym
But how can reaction time be accelerated? Anticipation improved? Fatigue influence reduced?
Recently, USA Hockey and Applied Cognitive Engineering co-developed a tool – The Hockey IntelliGym – that integrates into hockey a technology used by Air Force pilots. By training with The Hockey IntelliGym, players improve cognitive aspects such as reaction time, peripheral vision and mental awareness, while reducing mental fatigue towards the end of the game or shift.
In addition to training on-ice skills, USA Hockey recommends hockey players train their cognitive skills off the ice using The USA Hockey IntelliGym. Visit TheHockeyIntelliGym.com for more information.