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Staying Mentally Fit

By IntelliGym, 10/18/14, 4:00PM CDT


As the hockey season gets under way, getting back into “game” shape is a key focus for many players in the State of Hockey. Likely, the best players have kept up in terms of physical shape over the summer: taking part in other sports such as baseball, soccer or lacrosse; enjoying the great weather with hikes, boating or camping; or simply playing with friends. When returning to the ice, however, it takes a while to catch up to the competitive game speed of the fastest team sport in the world.

“Quickness of both body and mind are especially important with hockey being a chaotic game of transitions and quick bursts of multi-directional speed,” said Matt Cunningham, manager of USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program.

“Game shape” does not just refer to the physical aspects of the sport, such as speed, agility or stamina. It also refers to one’s ability to keep up in the mental aspects of the game, including read-and-react situations, play development recognition, and communication. And, just as athletes will work hard to quickly return to their physical “game shape” this fall, they will also look to gain an edge on their opponents by reengaging their hockey sense as early as possible.

“First and foremost is regaining the ability to make decisions under pressure,” noted Cunningham. “Players must be able to quickly evaluate various game scenarios and make the appropriate decisions, both with and without the puck, in order to maximize time and space.”

Over the last four years, The Hockey IntelliGym has been trusted by thousands of young players to help them boost their hockey sense. The software-based cognitive trainer is based on technology originally developed for fighter pilots in Israel. In 2008, the technology was adapted to the sport of hockey with help from USA Hockey and the National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Following months of testing, the U.S. Under-17 and Under-18 Teams adopted the off-ice tool into their full-time training regimen and, since 2010, the U.S. Men’s Under-18 Team has captured four gold medals and a silver medal in five appearances at the International Ice Hockey Federation U18 Men’s World Championships.

While scores of other NCAA and Canadian Hockey League teams have signed up for The Hockey IntelliGym since that time, the product’s main customer base are young athletes ages 10-and-up who are looking to enhance that ever-elusive skill commonly known as hockey sense. Over 10,000 players currently use the IntelliGym and all of its features, including its adaptive technology that makes the game more difficult as the user progresses; and a tracking system that allows users to input their on-ice statistics to monitor their improvement throughout the course of a season. IntelliGym members have reported a 30% increase in on-ice performance in just one season with the program.

“I got to be on the ice with the best players in the game of hockey,” said Shjon Podein, former 11-year NHLer and Rochester native. “I learned one main thing from being around these great hockey players and that was you must have a great mind to excel at the highest level. When I first took on coaching a Minnesota high school team (St. Louis Park), I wanted to provide the players with the best training possible and give them the extra edge that it takes to help win games. For this, I implemented the Hockey IntelliGym into the team’s regular training regimen.”

For more information on The Hockey IntelliGym, visit

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Minnesota Hockey has partnered with IntelliGym to provide all of our community associations with a special discount. The discount is $89/player (minimum of 10 players) for an 8 month license. For more information or to purchase, e-mail or call 1-800-383-1378.