By Kelly Jacobs
Ever wondered what it would be like to put yourself in a game-like situation prior to game time? Sounds impossible right? – Wrong! The development of Virtual Reality now allows soccer players, football players and other athletes to put themselves in the game days before it even happens. This technique has been adopted by coaches across the country as a valuable method of training and development for their players.
But how does it work, you ask?! Great question! Well first off, VR is a technological system that tracks a player’s body movements and updates the sights, sounds and touch based off those movements. It creates an illusion that captures an intense and realistic moment making the player essentially feel present in the actual experience. This is all done with a headset, (and some technology wire connections that make this headset work, but are too confusing to describe).
VR is growing and improving the way that athletes are being trained. Because the mind has no possible way of differentiating a real situation from one generated by technology, this method of training can act as a supplement to the work done on the field to enhance an athlete’s skills. This allows the quarterback of an NFL team to immerse himself into the game and to develop confidence and feel emotions that he would if he was actually on a football field, surrounded by obnoxious fans and the opposing team. He can turn 360 degrees and see the full layout of his surroundings while still being in the VR lab.
For example, imagine this!
(Quarterback puts goggles on)
Quarterback takes a peak up to look at the layout of the defense as he steps up to his offensive line. He takes a look to his left and notices one of the cornerbacks creeping up like he is getting ready to blitz. To his right he motions his tight end across to cover for the defender cheating. The tight end swiftly moves through the QB’s peripheral vision from right to left, but disappears out of sight for a second as he runs behind the QB then comes back into sight now on his left side. The QB takes one more scan and the ball is snapped.
Practice or VR?
VR is a great tool for training and development because like simulations it allows players to practice by doing. It is more likely for the players to retain information by physically practicing and performing plays over and over again, which is what VR allows a player to do. Being put in a game-like situation using VR fast-tracks the transformational learning moment. Athletes are able to practice without stepping foot on the field. Players have the chance to practice routine plays and do repetitions many more times than he would get in a normal practice.
VR also gives a player the opportunity to build on his knowledge of the sport and strengthen his mental game. It gives the player a chance to analyze opponent’s footwork a well as his steps, techniques and develop skills to better anticipate his opponent’s next move. This gives the player an advantage over his opponent come game time. Virtual reality has the potential to change both the future of sports and the way that athletes train. In the business world, managers can use VR to train employees on topics such as safety procedures. Virtual Reality gives the employees the ability to put themselves into a real life situation such as an earthquake or fire and physically go through the steps that should be taken.The employee can literally see the layout of the office building and the best escape route and the most efficient way to evacuate the building. So what are coaches and managers waiting for? Here is a video game that can actually train people!