May 30, 2024

Innovation Update

Being an ice hockey coach, creator and director of Hat Trick Training Academy, the need for an innovative ice hockey training tool is necessary. Why? HTT is located in Northwest Florida, an area where a year round ice hockey facility is an after thought. However, there are plenty of potential ice hockey players and coaches to train in the area. Sense Arena is the key to make this all come together. In the past I have led specific training for off-ice and then on-ice at different times and dates. Coaches’ spend good portion of time creating specific conditioning workouts, set plays and skills that work with specific play systems, to make sure players understand everything there is to know when it comes to being a hockey player. SA is a full immersive virtual reality environment that is based around the training of ice hockey players. The full Head Mount Display and auditory phones allows the players to see and hear as if they are in an actual ice hockey arena. The cordless hockey stick is in sync with the system and allows for the player to feel passes and shots as if they were on the ice.  SA takes, what coaches would spend precious time (setting up drills and plays, etc) on and creates the scenarios in the matter of seconds. If a player is having a heard time learning a specific skill or drill, SA will allow them to do it over until they get it right. SA collects data on everything the player works on and gives feedback when the player is finished utilizing it. The proof is there. HTT wants to be the leader of VR training with ice hockey players and coaches.

The implementation of the SA training system will be the significant blended technology (along with computers and other tech) that will be the draw to bring new clients in and existing ones to continue to grow at Hat Trick Training Academy. No where within the region of the Gulf Coast is there a Sense Arena or anything like it. HTT will be the first in the region to own, operate and train with the Sense Arena. HTT will become a leader in the revolutionary training techniques with blended technology, especially those in virtual reality.

How it Helps

When training the student athlete, specifically ice hockey players, it has been shown that that using VR the athlete has benefited by improving performances in the classroom and in game time situations. For years Virtual Reality (VR) has been used in many industries and settings. From training new employees on how to handle certain situations to military soldiers practicing for special operations, VR has allowed many people to try new and specific situations without the risk/dangers of being in the real environment. Education is starting to incorporate VR at a rapid rate into classrooms taking students on journeys to the top of mountains and into the solar system. With the influx of VR into the mainstream, the sports industry recently has started looking into specific training with VR. Football, soccer and now ice hockey all have developed game time situational programs for these athletes to practice with. Allowing athletes to practice in a VR environment reduces the risks of injury and allows the athletes to repeat scenarios over and over again without the limitations (time to setup drills and bringing other athletes in) of real life in person practices, scrimmages or games. The coaches get to control the situation and replicate it, teaching the athlete exactly what to do in the moment.

Check out the “WHY” for Hat Trick Training Academy


Several studies from groups, including STRIVR have shown the speeding up of reaction times and improved sports performance (Ryan, 2017) over the last few years showing that VR training is working effectively. Hedderik van Rijn in 2017 conducted a study on learning and memory to show the differences between introspective and performance measures of learning. This was achieved by introducing serial reaction time task (SRTT) developed by Nissen and Bullemer to study the processes underlying a broad range of behaviors, including the cognitive and biological principles of learning and memory.(Sense, 2018) The test was conducted with four sequences of random targets that light up  appearing in the VR headset. The participants sat in a chair and wore an HTC Vive VR headset with a single hand-held controller (in dominant hand). (Sense, 2018) The participants positioned themselves virtually so they would be able to touch the objects that appeared in the headset easily. A baseline test was administered before starting the practice round of 25 trials where shapes would light up in specific orders that participants would have to virtually touch. The performance test conducted consisted of 150 trials that were completely random and did not repeat. After the test was completed, overall 98.8% were correct on the practice trials with little to no errors. (Sense, 2018) The performance task of 150 trials was near perfect: incorrect responses account for 0.6% of the performance trials. Responses were fast: The median reponse time (RT) across correct responses was 425 ms and 90% of those were between 302 and 603 ms, with only 0.5% of all correct trials resulting in RT’s longer than one second. (Sense, 2018) After the completion of the study, one of the discussion topics was how VR has an advantage to manipulate the environment from which the study is being conducted to fit any test. (Sense, 2018) With the results of over 17,000 tests, it is reassuring and opens the door to innovative experimental manipulations for an established experimental paradigm using state-of-the-art technology. (Sense, 2018)

Literature Review

Creating A New Culture of Learning

When we implement the Sense Arena, we will do it with the way we teach and the way students learn at HTT. We are going to create a whole new learning environment for the students. Success is what we strive for, both on and off the ice, in the classroom and in the game. HTT embraces the progressive movement of education and encourages our student athletes to express themselves creatively. Much like in the classroom, the student athletes will be creative in their training and game play.

Phases of Development

To make sure that Sense Arena will be acquired and utilized correctly here are the steps HTT will take to implement Sense Arena Virtual Reality trainer into Hat Trick Training Academy.

  1. HTT Hockey Director will converse with Sense Arena and solidify the information for implementation of SA in HTT. This will include everything from cost, installation and steps needed for maintenance of Sense Arena. The hockey director will also ask Sense Arena for and about marketing brochures and different ways of marketing their product to an area that is not considered a hockey rich area. Time Frame 1-2 months.
  2. Hockey Director will approach the board of directors and explain to them why Sense Arena will be beneficial not only for HTT. The hockey director will explain to the board all the information, cost and marketing for local and regional hockey players to learn more about their game and improve their skills. Time Frame 1-2 months.
  3. When SA is approved by the board, fund raising and grant writing will commence to ensure HTT will acquire SA. Funding will come from current and future training programs and clinics (minus cost to coaches), grant writing and investors. Time Frame 3-6 months.
  4. When funds have been raised, HTT will contact and schedule with Sense Arena to have them locally train HTT coaches and several student coaches on how to use and how to correctly instruct the use of Sense Arena. Time Frame 1-2 months.
  5. When coaches and student coaches are correctly trained on SA, HTT will open to the public and start showing the public the benefits of Sense Arena and training with Virtual Reality.

Total time for implementation: 6-12 months.

After some time and familiarity with Sense Arena, HTT will market outside the region to show other hockey players that there is a virtual training system near them. When the implantation is successful there will be a possibility of HTT acquiring more than one Sense Arena.

What is Expected

Our desired result for the student athlete consists of 2 parts, all in line with state standards and individual athletic abilities.  

Part A:

We expect our student athletes to exceed academic standards in preparation to excel in post high school education. This will be achieved by proper instruction that is student focused where the student learns beyond the state standards with real world applications. Students will be measured weekly, in their subjects, in a variety of academic skills from writing, multiple choice, short answer and hands on labs. These measurements will track our ability to be effective instructors and facilitators for each individual student.   

Part B:

We expect our athletes to perform their very best every time they are in training. Along with the state standards for Physical Education, the athletes will be measured individually with a baseline assessment in specific movements and actions. The baseline test (based on the NHL Combine test) will be administered monthly to keep record of the athlete’s progress. During the month the athletes will learn and practice specific skills and exercises that will not only help improve their baseline assessment but make them stronger, faster, more agile in preparation for their sport and any sort of “combine” try-outs for leagues, colleges or professional sports they plan to attend. These measurements will reflect our ability to specifically train individual athletes as well as dictate any sort of deficiencies an athlete may have that we need to address.

Understanding By Design and The 3 Columns

With HTT embracing “newer” styles of instruction and learning. We have explained how they are different, how they are similar and how they both work. Either one can be used in correlation with the Sense Arena

Both UbD and Finks 3 Columns options have their positives and their negatives. While the organization part of the 3 Columns looks nice and neat, it is something that is extremely hard to use and very constricting when it comes to the teaching and learning. In contrast, utilizing the UbD allows more creativity for the instructors and learners. It is easier to use and lays everything out to where anyone can understand what is happening. Now I may be partial or at least comfortable with the UbD method because it is something very similar to what I was using at the IB school where I taught middle grades science. This is all personal opinion and shouldn’t stop anyone from using the 3 Column method. For me, UbD works the best.

Below is the template I created using the UbD approach. This goal is for learners to understand and demonstrate, using their skills of passing, shooting and puck protection, in the different options on a 2 on 1 offensive zone rush.

Hat Trick Training Academy, 3 Columns

This is an outline for the first semester at Hat Trick Training Academy (HTT). HTT is a student/athlete focused learning environment. The acquisition of knowledge for all our students/athletes is our primary goal. With the correct skillsets of knowledge, our students/athletes will be able to achieve their own personal goals, school goals, training goals and life goals not only inside but outside of the HTT learning environment. At any age level we want to establish a base of self-confidence with the student/athlete. Without a solid base of confidence, learning difficult tasks in the future can lead to tremendous training deficits within the student/athlete. We will achieve these foundational goals by incorporating Blended Learning, which will utilize both real life scenarios and virtual simulations with a more “hands-on” approach. Click below to learn more about HTT and the 3 Columns


Hat Trick Training Academy is striving to be the best education source for the student athlete in the region of Northwest Florida. Our Board of Directors and staff work diligently both in the community and in the facility to achieve this goal. With the goal of being the best educational and athletic preparation source for the student athlete, HTT will address every month, every week, and everyday behaviors of both staff and students that will allow us to track our progress to make sure we meet and exceed our goal.

HTT Influencer Model, Expectations and Desired Results

Action Research

As far back as I can remember, I have loved researching topics and ideas such as sports, history, people, and inventions. Sometimes this research would encompass hours, days, weeks, months, and even years of time. With Action Research defined as any systematic inquiry conducted by educators and others regarding how students learn and how to teach them (Mertler, 2020). I embraced the process to outline a strategic plan to utilize the Sense Arena VR system to its full potential with the students of Hat Trick Training Academy.

Coaches Training

Just like the student athlete being important to HTT’s primary goal, HTT teachers, facilitators and coaches will be trained to and expect to perform at the highest level. This allows the student athletes to gain the most useful and correct knowledge when it comes to working with Sense Arena, on and ice strategies and school work.

Research and Results

Conclusion on Research

Since VR is such a new technology there is very little information on the effects of VR and athletes in their respected sports. With Sense Arena planning more E-Skills competition in in Europe and North America, more players will have access to the benefits of SA and VR for hockey training. This will encourage more studies to evaluate and understand the full benefits of VR and the what the future can bring. Even though there is very little information about training with VR in hockey, this should not deter anyone from experimenting with VR. With limited ice time and availability of an ice rink, Sense Arena will help fill that void. To understand VR and Sense Arena’s full benefits, further studies and research will need to be conducted.

The Future of HTT and Sense Arena

With the (soon to be) end of the restriction that were set in place with COVID-19, HTT will be applying for grants and looking for coaches to make our Sense Arena innovation plan into a reality. Local hockey players have shown interest and are looking forward to training in such a “futuristic” environment.