Technology in Sport: How is VR (Virtual Reality) impacting elite sport? I spent an evening with the lovely folks at HTC Vive alongside some sport and technology experts to see what they’re up to. HTC Vive is a first of its kind virtual reality system, and the headset of choice for elite sports teams who are looking to use advanced analytics to bring about marginal gains.
The Vive Pro headset offers the highest quality and most accurate experience available, which is why the system is being used by market leading VR training and cognitive development tools such as
Vive technology is being used by a range of companies around the world to develop applications for teams across a wide number of sports including Football, Rugby and Cricket, Ice Hockey, Baseball and many others, providing elite players with the ability to immerse themselves visually, physically and emotionally in a virtual world, allowing for true-to-life interactions and experiences.
By developing highly immersive simulations of real-world sporting environments, minimal impact virtual training can be created to benefit both players and coaches. Using VR in sport means coaches can re-enact a series of unique drills mapped to simulate the pressure and changing realities of a game, offering an accurate assessment of the cognitive capabilities, skill levels, strengths and weakness of every player in a squad.
This type of training allows coaches to use specifically designed applications which link the brain and body in an effort to achieve measurable improvements in skills, game awareness and confidence. These assessments can inform structured, tailor-made programmes for the development of player’s physical skills, mental sharpness and ability to stay composed in high-pressure situations. Due to the minimal impact virtual training environment, this means injured players are also able to practice skills and regain sharpness in a safe way, before fully committing to full exertion efforts on the real-world training pitch.
The likes of Rezzil and INCISIV have used HTC Vive because of the precision required in accurately recreating professional sporting scenarios, helping professional coaches to maximise the potential of players on the pitch. Through a series of unique drills mapped to simulate the pressure and changing realities of the game on the pitch, these partners are able to provide accurate assessments of the cognitive capabilities, skill levels, strengths and weakness of every player in a squad.
The use of Vive Tracker technology also enables teams to bring real-life apparatus such as racquets, boots and baseball bats into the virtual reality experience, resulting in a greater level of accuracy and immersion which is needed at the highest/elite level. The Vive Wireless Adapter, compatible with the
As such Vive is used in the following sports:
• Cricket – Working with partners such as INCISIV, the Virtual Reality batting system to enable boards such as the ECB and Cricket Ireland to measure a player’s ability to make great decisions and act intelligently, but also offers new ways to train smarter, protect players from injury and facilitate return-to-play.
To do this INCISIV is developing a unique VR based platform that combined in-game VR with their scientifically validated behavioural analytics that unlocks the secrets of how players make winning decisions under
• Rugby – INCISIV
• Football – HTC Vive is used by partners such as
More than 150 elite players and hundreds of academy players have gone through the system with Manchester United Academy, and 4 of the top 6 Premier League teams benefiting from this technology in their training. Meanwhile, INCISIV is also using the same technology to translate 20
• Ice Hockey –Sense Arena has created a Virtual Reality hockey training platform, with more than 50 drills and a dozen pre-set training plans that focus on the development of hockey intelligence, decision making, multitasking, time movement anticipation and speed of reaction in hockey. They do this by training the brain muscle to develop players both physically and mentally
• Baseball – DiamondFX is next-generation player development and scouting system that combines real MLB data, virtual reality and machine learning to help teams and players make better decisions. They use the HTC Vive headset as their VR provider of choice.
I got to try out the Rugby and Football experience to see how well it tracks my movement, latency and the type of results/reports generated by the system. To do this, I tried the five key baseline REZZIL drills:
• Rondo Scan: A comprehensive scan providing data about a player’s composure, body form, anticipation, and decision-making process while passing and receiving the ball. This drill helps a player improve on-the-ball composure, enhancing their anticipation and situational awareness.
• Color Combo: This drill analyses and improves a player’s anticipation, agility, forward planning, body positioning, and their ability to handle pressure while dealing with high-stress situations on the field.
• Pressure Pass: This drill measures a player’s composure under pressure. It also analyses vision, the timing of passes, agile thinking, planning, and anticipation. Practising this drill helps players to better manage high-pressure moments on the pitch and recognise when they should release—or hold—the ball.
• Shoulder Sums: Tracking vision, situational awareness, composure, and performance under pressure, this drill is designed to help players keep possession of the ball by making them more conscious of their surroundings. It also improves their ability to receive and pass under pressure.
• Head Smart: By tracking a player’s vision, timing, and ability to keep track of the ball, this drill teaches players how to properly time a headed pass and locate open teammates.
Overall, it’s fascinating to see how far VR has come and how invested businesses like REZZIL and INCISIV are in using VR to bring sports training and reporting to life. With a tool like the Vive, there’s no doubt it will only get better and better. At the moment trackers are used separately on the body, for example, in the Football experience, trackers are worn on shin pads, the boot as well as the headset itself with eye-tracking. Eye-tracking is not even being harnessed yet and a future where a full suit can be worn would be amazing. To find out more, check out www.vive.com