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The quarterback position might seem simple to the uninitiated. On any given play you’re either handing the ball off or throwing it to a receiver, right? Given the different schemes and systems implemented by coaches these days, it’s not so cut-and-dry. With three brand new quarterbacks on the roster in 2017 the Chicago Bears are expediting the learning process by using virtual reality.
“It’s a new tool, there’s probably seven or eight teams using it [VR],” said Bears head coach John Fox to reporters last month. “With our newness at quarterback, whether it’s Mitchell [Trubisky], Mark [Sanchez] or Mike [Glennon] it’s just getting reps that other guys don’t.”
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Three new quarterbacks means practice reps become even more invaluable. Not all three will be able to take snaps with the starters so they need to find other ways to develop. This is where VR comes into play. A player can put on a headset and instantly have a 360-degree view of the field. Here they can learn to break down different coverages and blitzes without having to put on a helmet.
While speaking to reporters Fox explained the effectiveness of VR for the quarterbacks, saying, “I thought they improved. We did a lot of situation football — we’ve been able to create some of the environments that are going to happen in games. Hopefully the more they do it, the better they’ll get at it.”
STRIVR, a company at the forefront of sports VR, has been linked to many teams across the NFL including the Bears. Last October, STRIVR and the Bears teamed up to bring their fans closer to the game. 360-degree cameras captured practice footage which was then transformed into a first-hand VR experience for the fans. As of February, there had been consideration by the team to use it in training.
“It’s pretty cool,” Bears GM Ryan Pace told CSNChicago.com. “Some people think it just applies to the quarterbacks but safeties can wear them, linebackers can wear them.
“Where I think value would be is also with backup quarterbacks, who don’t get a lot of reps and that you’re trying to develop. The first-team quarterback usually gets all the reps but we’re trying to develop that younger quarterback. We can replicate and simulate even better.”
A recent study showed STRIVR users’ response time to be much quicker than those using traditional methods.
Along with football, the company has created uses of its technology for rugby and soccer, among other sports.