Canucks work on secret mind room where they can be programmed to think happy thoughts

Is the Mind Room Helping the Vancouver Canucks run to the Stanley Cup?

An excellent story regarding the use of Neurofeedback in sports.  The Mind Room utilizes the Thought Technology Procomp Infiniti equipment. The follwing article from the Vancouver Sun gives us a bit of insight in to the 2011 Stanley Cup run of the Vancouver Canucks.

Canucks work on secret mind room where they can be programmed to think happy thoughts

In director Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, a violent criminal named Alex DeLarge undergoes experimental aversion therapy as authorities try to psychologically reprogram him.

DeLarge, brilliantly played by Malcolm McDowell, has his eyelids clamped open and is forced to watch graphic nasty bits of ultra-violence on film while suffering drug-induced nausea all to the music of Beethoven. DeLarge quickly associates his suffering with violence and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony and is cured. Completely disarmed psychologically, he returns to the community stripped of any coping skills and soon tries to kill himself.

Dr. Hal Myers, president of Thought Technology Ltd. hooked up to 'Mind Room', a physiological-psychological instrument that prepares athletes mentally to deal with nail-biting experiences.Dr. Hal Myers, president of Thought Technology Ltd. hooked up to ‘Mind Room’, a physiological-psychological instrument that prepares athletes mentally to deal with nail-biting experiences. -Montreal Gazette MindRoom technology worked for the Italian national team at soccer’s last World Cup and it could soon be working for the Vancouver Canucks.

So far, the MindRoom people have yet to lose a European soccer player, yet the sports science company’s futuristic programming room sounds lifted from A Clockwork Orange, except it works in reverse.

Instead of inducing horror, technicians in the mind room create a soothing environment intended to reinforce positive feelings among meditative players, who are trained not to allow negative thoughts to consume them. They emerge from treatment, in theory, confident and better equipped psychologically to survive the stress and crisis of competition. If all goes well, they become masters of their emotions.

The National Hockey League team is building its own mind room, working with the Italian-based sports science firm that utilizes strategies developed by Thought Technology Ltd. Of Montreal.

It is part of Canuck general manager Mike Gillis’s sweeping initiative to push the conventional boundaries of player development and preparation in the NHL.

Gillis mentioned MindRoom Sports Science Inc. during an interview early last season but has since stopped talking about the program, wary the Canucks could too easily surrender whatever competitive advantages they gain from it.

Although there were plenty of skeptics last season when the Canucks hired Vancouver-based Global Fatigue Management to analyse players’ sleep patterns, Gillis said several other NHL teams are now conducting their own fatigue programs.

Gillis declined again Wednesday to talk about MindRoom, but the Canucks’ secret is getting out.

A fan forum on the team’s own website has been abuzz with chatter for more than a week.

It’s unclear at what stage of construction the Canucks mind chamber is at, or even if it will be operational this season.

But the team has been working for more than a year with Dr. Len Zaichkowsky, a renowned sports psychologist at Boston University who is originally from Alberta.

Zaichkowsky, a friend of Gillis who developed for the Canucks a new program to gauge potential draft picks’ aptitude for professional hockey, is listed as faculty on the MindRoom Sports Science website.

One of the company’s marquee clients is Chelsea Football Club in England, which signed on last summer.

According to The Daily Telegraph, up to six Chelsea players at a time visit the London club’s mind room, where electrodes are fitted to their heads, chest and hands to measure brain activity, muscle response and anxiety.

Guided into a meditative state, players are shown soothing images and short video clips from matches. They are trained to remain in a calm, relaxed state regardless of what they see and hear.

Chelsea sports psychologist Dr. Bruno Demichelis, also on the MindRoom faculty, told The Telegraph the mind room allows the players to improve their resiliency through mental training.

Or as MindRoom Sports Science claims on its website: Through this training, the person learns how to control his intrusive thoughts and worries, aiming towards a condition of improved presence, attention, concentration and vigilance.

Serenity now.

So, with any luck next season, Canuck Steve Bernier will not break into a cold sweat every time he gets the puck on his stick in a scoring position. Roberto Luongo will not look skyward with exasperation when he allows a bad goal. Shane O’Brien will never take another bad penalty. Maybe Vancouver will even win on the road.

After all, as Yogi Berra tried telling us, games are 90 per cent mental; the other half is physical.

© Vancouver Sun 2009

3 thoughts on “Canucks work on secret mind room where they can be programmed to think happy thoughts”

  1. Jay, thanks for posting this interesting article. It’s good to see that the Canadian media are helping to share the load for educating the public about neurofeedback. As well, it’s encouraging that the article reports applications of neurofeedback to elite sports so that its value for more than challenges with health can be appreciated.

  2. The Vancouver Canucks National Hockey League team just made it into the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in almost 20 years. The Canucks, under the direction of sports psychologist Len Zaichkowski, have been using a new state of the art technology called the Mind Room. The Mind Room (using instruments from Thought Technology) uses biofeedback and neurofeedback instruments to assess and train athletes to control their stress and attention in competitive situations. The Canucks have several older players who are performing at their highest levels more consistently. Professional and Olympic athletes have been using biofeedback and neurofeedback for years to achieve successful performance outcomes. Athletes from the National Football League, World Cup Soccer, Major League Baseball and numerous Olympic Teams (Indian Shooting, Canadian Skiing) have utilized biofeedback and neurofeedback to gain championships in their sports.

    Biofeedback uses physiological measures of muscle tension (EMG), skin perspiration (GSR), temperature , respiration and heart rate variability. Neurofeedback, or EEG biofeedback assesses unhealthy brainwave (EEG) patterns to determine if an athlete is anxious, in the peak attention zone or over-focused and trains their brain to be able to maintain the optimal pattern required for peak performance. The Mind Room combines biofeedback and neurofeedback measures with game video that can be used to train several athletes at one. In addition, using the Mind Room concepts, players are less like to suffer severe injuries and recover from these injuries, including concussions, more quickly and with better long-term results. These training benefits result in greater player performance and durability, often resulting in Olympic Gold Metals and Team Championships.

    The use of biofeedback and neurofeedback are becoming more frequent in sport psychology, especially in the area of concussion assessment (using QEEG assessment) and treatment. Athletes in contact sports, especially hockey and football are increasingly experiencing concussions which not only can significantly interfere with their teams success (i.e. Sidney Crosby in the NHL), but also negatively affect their future sport success and life health.

    Additional information is available in a book to be released in June 2001 called “Applications of Biofeedback & Neurofeedback in Sport Psychology” edited by Ben Strack, Ph.D. and Michael Linden, Ph.D., published by the Association of Applied Physiology and Biofeedback (

    Dr. Linden is a Clinical Psychologist and Nationally Certified in Neurofeedback and Biofeedback. He is the director of The Attention Learning Center, which has offices located in San Juan Capistrano, Irvine and Carlsbad, California.

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