Train the Brain P umping iron and expanding your lungs will always play a critical role in sports per- formance, but athletes need to find new edges. For many, that kind of sharpness comes only from the brain. The Mayo Clinic, an international leader in medicine, and USA Hockey, for example, use software developed to train Israel Air Force fighter pilots. It’s all part of a cogni- tive training program geared toward on-ice performance. USA Hockey says the use of the IntelliGym program created by Applied Cog- nitive Engineering improves on-ice cognitive abilities by as much as 30 percent. A video- game-like interface—without storyboards or fantasy graphics, of course—helps players make all their moves more instinctive. Think of it as a workout tool for the mind. Dr. Michael Stuart, the Mayo Clinic’s Sports Medicine Center co-director, says that while training the brain remains a somewhat new idea, it is a part of sports that deserves more attention and research. Stuart notes that a large segment of inju- ries, especially ones to the head, come from unanticipated hits in the open field or the open ice. “There is certainly merit to improv- ing on-ice awareness and being able to an- ticipate plays before they happened,” he tells Sports Illustrated . “Improving an athlete’s


cognitive training: software and hard- ware that trains the brain and the body’s senses moisture-wicking: the ability of a fabric to “pull” moisture away from the skin to aid cooling and ventilation ventilation: the easy movement of air around or within a body or a system

stem in sports: engineering


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