BY JEFF SLADE
Football’s technological boom is on the way, and it looks like a couple teams are getting ahead of the curve.
According to a report by The Boston Globe, the Patriots this year will become the fourth team to use virtual reality technology, joining the Cowboys, 49ers, and Buccaneers.
STRIVR, a company launched by Stanford grad Derek Belch with the purpose of bringing virtual reality to football, is taking the sport by storm.
The Patriots are the third team to use the specific technology, in addition to high-powered college programs such as Arkansas, Auburn, and Stanford.
The technology allows for players to put on large ski-like goggles where they can see an entire actual play from practice unfold before their eyes from the quarterback’s perspective.
You turn to the left – you see receivers lining up. Turn right – linemen are settling into ready position. Then the whistle blows, and the play unfolds before your eyes as it did in real life.
Everything is real – from the sights to the sounds.
The technology is most useful to quarterbacks, who can go through the playbook and read opposing defenses over and over again without leaving their homes or dorm-rooms.
It can be beneficial for every position, though, and teams have started to take notice.
“We’re trying to provide a complementary tool that we feel can be effective in training and helping players learn faster,” Belch told The Globe. “We’ve had a lot of people tell us this is going to be everywhere over the next two or three years.”
Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema seemed to agree:
“When I watched what Derek had put together, I thought, ‘This is going to change the game of football as we know it,’ ” he told The Globe.
“It’s human beings. It’s you in a huddle. It’s your voice. It’s your script. It’s your set up. That set it apart from everything else I’d ever seen. It escalates the learning curve beyond exponential numbers. It’s absolutely amazing what it can do for a young player.
“Your biggest dream as a coach is to have every one of your players know as much as you know,” he continued. “That is very seldom met. It’s a very rare quality to make that happen. But if you can get a younger player to take in the volume of reps that makes you get there as coach, by doing it the exact same way without having to call a practice, that is worth it’s weight in gold.”
Virtual reality is no longer on the way – it’s here.
And – if they don’t want to be left behind – everyone else better catch up soon.