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UWSP Hockey adds virtual reality into training regimen

STEVENS POINT (WAOW) — The UWSP men’s and women’s hockey teams are taking training to another dimension using virtual reality.

Athletic training students in the masters program partnered with a university in Prague and Sense Arena to bring the technology to campus.

“The initial research study we’re doing is really looking at how virtual reality training translates to on ice performance,” said Athletic training faculty Beth Kinslow.

30 athletes from both teams are part of the research.They were all baseline tested, and will be retested at the end of the season to see if improvements were made.

During training sessions, athletes put on the virtual reality head gear and are lead through a series of drills to improve on weaker skills. Those skills include cognitive ability, peripheral vision, reaction time and more.

“They’re going to get better at their sport, but at the same time we’re working on their brain and their cognition and all of the mental aspects that go along with sport,” said the Director of Athletic Training Education Holly Schmies.

“I want to get mentally tough within the game because we all have skills, that’s what got us here,” said women’s hockey player McKenna Butcher. “But the mental side of the game in college is completely different than it is in high school.”

Beyond improving on the ice performance, athletic trainers hope the virtual reality technology will also have health benefits.

“Especially after concussions, before we put the people on the ice or put them in more involved high-risk atmosphere can we get them in a controlled atmosphere where we can simulate some of the drills,” said Kinslow.

They’re hoping the technology can help them develop a more precise return to play protocol for student-athletes.


Sarah McGrew

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