In the world of sports, VR is now being used to help athletes improve their performance. While there have been discussions about using VR to bring fans into the seats, VR has already been adapted for football since 2014. Derek Belch, a former Arizona Cardinals kicker, and Jeremy Bailenson, a university professor, created Strivr: a VR sports simulator that helps athletes train through repetition, depicting real-life scenarios such as the snap or a pass in a football game. Using 360-degree simulations, Strivr can depict a strategy, tactic, or a play-by-play over and over again until a player can get a sense of where the best passes are and how a teammate will react to their movement. The Dallas Cowboys were the first to adopt Strivr. However, since then five more teams as well as twelve different college football teams have signed up for the program.
In terms of other sports, VR can depict the exact situations players have problems with and give them the chance to have a more real experience than if they tried to recreate it on the field. A computer can then calculate every small detail so that a player can correct it, and practice it so that eventually they can reach their best form. For example, Ex-Netherlands soccer coach Louis Van Gaal tested a VR system made by specialist company Beyond Sports prior to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. By testing the headsets, the team could replay certain in-game moments in first-person, and look at their form before the match. By placing cameras at different angles around the field, the program recreated a virtual environment that helped the team evaluate their performance.
Using VR for sports has such an enormous potential not only for fans but the greater industry. While it’s true VR can’t replace physical practice, as a tool it can help improve an athlete’s overall performance by getting rid of bad habits and making good ones. Can you imagine playing a game months ahead and feel confident you can make a pass during the actual match? While many are still casting doubt into the legitimacy of training our athletes through simulations, as it is now VR training aids have made an integral mark on sports and seems to be here to stay.