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.
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.
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