For the time being, let’s set aside the concussion issue and how virtual reality puts the athlete in a zero impact environment. This is certainly a benefit of using virtual reality in training. However, the discussion on protecting the brain overshadows the benefits of virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) in training the brain.
Before the argument turns into which is better – live video or video gam-like simulations, realize that training the brain to track and focus multiple targets as simple as blobs on the screen has a positive effect on an athlete.
In the video below, you will see orange spheres being used in a VR simulation designed to improve cognitive-perceptual performance:
All great athletes know that to be very efficient, they cannot rely solely on their physical abilities. The speed and effectiveness of their decision-making are essential. Two researchers at the School of Optometry, University of Montreal have discovered that by training the high performance athlete brain with perceptual-cognitive task in a virtual reality environment, they managed to increase by 53% in the average cognitive-perceptual performance of athletes. Conducted by the postdoctoral fellow David Tinjust and professor Jocelyn Faubert, holder of the NSERC-Essilor research Chair, this research has been conducted at the Laboratory of Psychophysics and Visual Perception at the Universite de Montreal.
The point is, it is really about the protocol as much as it is the immersion. Yes a fully immersive simulation is more realistic, but it doesn’t necessarily take every single element or something that looks 100% life like to make an impact on the athletes vision and decision making.
Football is a game of patterns. It starts with the players in a static alignment, and when the ball is snapped a truly finite number of movement patterns happen in front of the athlete. For the athlete to see what he needs and make quick accurate decisions, he needs to be trained in those patterns of movements. Unfortunately, a limited number of on field repetitions are available. It becomes even more limited for the second or third teamer. So how does the player get the training he needs? The answer is in the technology that trains the brain. It takes a lot of time to set up all 22 players and run play repetitions. With virtual reality an entire practice can be simulated in minutes.
In an article in the upcoming issue of American Football Monthly I highlight EON Sports VR, STVIR Labs, Axon Sports, and Dynavision. Each does things differently in terms of how they train the brain and the technology that they utilize. The one aspect of each that is consistent is that their products are proven to enhance the ability of the brain to function and help the athlete to perform in the football environment.
I promise you if you are not looking into how you can utilize brain training and these companies to train your athletes, you will be. Here’s one way to get started:
I include an in-depth section in my soon to be released book Coaching HD on the new Coaches Edge Technology platform. Stay tuned for news and announcements. In the mean time, check out our library here.