Written by IEEE | August 24, 2016 | Updated: March 30, 2017
Football is a dangerous sport with an increased risk factor for injuries to players every time they hit the field — whether for the big game, or when participating in practice drills.. Summer training camps are in full swing, and NFL players are getting a reprieve from constant hands-on physical practice with the addition of virtual reality (VR) experiences in training camp.
Integrating VR into a real-life sport may seem strange, but allowing a player to strap on a headset to practice different plays can actually help them improve their performance. A company called STRIVR Labs currently has 7 teams in the NFL using their 360-degree VR training software that pairs with VR headsets. The company records actual team practices to capture real footage of the possible plays in the games. They use the video to customize the experience for each team. Players put the VR headset on and can react and understand plays just as they would on the field but without all the heavy equipment and their actual teammates (the virtual players don’t count!).
A particularly important benefit of using VR for athletic training is giving an injured player the ability to practice while they heal. The VR training obviously doesn’t replace a player physically practicing football against other people on their team, but the use of this technology is a great pairing between game strategy and real, on-field practices for sports teams.