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Virtual reality has already started changing American football training, and it is doing the same to different sports. The Minnesota Vikings are one of the first teams to incorporate VR into their training program. More teams, from other sports, are now beginning to realize the importance of this new technology in improving their players’ real-world performance. Imagine being able to train different strategies without getting hurt.
VR & Revolutionary Changes for Sports Training
There are a wide variety of teams and applications that the sports world is using virtual reality technology to amp up their game in every way.
The most prevalent at the moment is for tactical training purposes. The Oculus Rift-based system is going to change how athletes train and prepare. Their system has a special camera and audio system for capturing complete on-field action. This allows players to relive the plays. It can also be used for team or one-on-one drills. It immerses the athlete by simulating opponents so that their minds believe they are in a real life scenario.
Yet another way to utilize VR for athletes is during physical training. A few years ago, Dallas Mavericks owner became part of a multi-million dollar seed-funding for an omni-directional treadmill called Virtuix Omni. This technology can revolutionize the way that physical athletic training is conducted.
Finally, the fans aren’t going to be left out of the VR experience! Oculus Rift VR developed a program that allows sports fans and anyone else to explore a full-fledged virtual experience. It has been rumored that Facebook, which purchased the Oculus VR in 2014, is going to push their technology into a fan based sports experience.
The VR Sports Training Experience
The virtual reality training experience in sports involves the use of 360-degree camera for capturing footage. This footage is used by the VR system to make the athlete feel that they are on the field. The athletes will look around and see other players in formation and coming at them just as if they were really on the field or the court. This is even better than real practice because there is no risk of injury. A team is able to run drills and plays and use the experience to improve their mental preparedness every time.
Even college teams are realizing the advantage of VR training. Dartmouth College has embraced the virtual reality training program for their team. Quarterback training seems to be the primary application because the position demands reading the defenses and reacting to them. But Dartmouth has stated that they will be using virtual reality training for all position groups.
VR training is expected to give massive competitive edge. During a game, on field tactical adjustments for some positions such as quarterbacks and hockey defensemen happen many times. Running VR training drills which present different real life scenarios will help make the decision making process more efficient in real games.
The concept behind using VR for training is to eliminate the complications of the playbook. What players are going to get is the mental practice required to succeed. Players are able to achieve this without the physical exertion or risk of injury. An increasing number of NFL teams are adopting this new technology. This is expected to give them an edge above their competitors who are not using the same training.
More & More teams Join In VR
As the technology branches out athletes and organizations are taking note of the VR benefit. Almost two dozen college and pro teams are now using this virtual reality training program of their players. This includes some notable teams like Arkansas, Clemson and Utah. Even Washington Mystics and Washington Capitals are using it.
How Virtual Reality Will Change Watching Sports
Virtual reality is also changing the world of sports off the field for the fans. Viewers will be able to watch the pre-game speech. They can be present on the field during the Super Bowl halftime performance. They can also live one of their star players’ big games while sitting court side. The possibilities are endless. Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and Playstation 4 VR are in their initial stages in the market and are expected to go very big.
Use of VR Tech in NASCAR
Mountain Dew has been using VR tech for many years to reach potential customers who are sports fans. Skate boarding and snowboarding are the most popular ones. More recently, they ran a campaign by creating a special VR experience in car racing. The company placed a special camera within the car of Dale Earnhardt Jr. (NASCAR driver). This gave fans the opportunity to experience how the drivers hurtling hundreds of miles per hour and increased their exposure as a sponsor.
The STRIVR Labs Story
STRIVR was one of the pioneers in VR technology uses for sports. STRIVR Labs was founded by a two person team including a former NFL quarterback. It started from the Virtual Human Interaction Lab (Stanford University) and has evolved into so much more. Most of its founding members have some background in sports. Other employees include additional players from the NFL and the NCAA level. With athletes leading STRIVR labs programs there is no telling where VR will go for sports applications.
This new age in virtual reality powering sports, places athletes on the field in real-like situations. Latest developments in this technology allow athletes to participate from anywhere and at any time. Players can enter virtual court or field and practice just like they would be on real field.
At this time, STRIVR is being used primarily for quarterback training. However, all position groups can use it. The Vikings are one of the teams that now use virtual reality training for all positions.
VR Technology is Here to Stay In Sports
Digital companies are making massive investments in virtual reality. They are seeing the benefits of VR tactical training, physical training, fan experience, and advertising. Facebook and Google have taken steps to ensure that they remain ahead of the curve. The rate at which the big consumer brands are embracing the technology shows that it is going to develop even faster. This is going to make it even more affordable. This can allow more and more teams to make the most of virtual reality technology in every aspect.