This week’s weekly roundup of all things sporty and virtual reality (VR) related sees an NBA player using the technology for improving his free throws, Premier League football club Manchester City launching a VR app, and their local rivals Manchester United had considered VR for training purposes.
NBA Player Andre Drummond Used VR to Train His Brain For Better Free Throws
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has featured a number of times on VRFocus, whether its been for training in VR or using the tech for promotional purposes. This week it’s the former with Detroit Pistons player Andre Drummond using VR to improve his free throwing technique.
For Drummond, trying VR wasn’t about improving his physical skills, rather his mental ones: ”They recorded me shooting a ton of free throws, and obviously recorded the makes, and watching over and over again and just training my brain,” Drummond said.
”When I tried it I ended up really liking it and stuck with it throughout the summer and I saw the progress. It’s more of a mental thing, and with the VR, it’s more of a reinforcement, kind of training your mind to think positively all the time – even though you’re not going to make every shot, but you still have that thought process that you’re making shots.
”I think that’s where I messed up last year, was setting a goal in my head. I think for me, it’s just not worrying about makes or misses, just really shooting the same shot over and over again.”
Manchester City Launch New CityVR App for Fans to Experience Football in VR
If you’re a fan of Premier League football side Manchester City and you own a Samsung Gear VR head-mounted display (HMD) then the new CityVR app might be worth a look.
The club held a public live VR trial in May 2016, which saw Manchester City, Sky Sports and LiveLike provide fans with the opportunity to experience a live Premier League match in VR for the first time. Now Manchester City and LiveLike have collaborated once again to bring exclusive VR content to even more City fans with the CityVR app.
The CityVR app transports fans to a virtual VIP suite where they can view highlights from a selection of Manchester City’s 15/16 home fixtures, seamlessly switch to different corners of the pitch by looking at a camera icon placed in multiple locations, and access a virtual dashboard providing player information and match statistics.
Commenting on the new CityVR Oculus app, Diego Gigliani, Senior Vice President of Media and Innovation at City Football Group, said: “Our trial with live VR last season was eye-opening, with fans reacting in awe of the immersive nature of the experience. With the launch of CityVR on the Oculus platform, we’re now able to let millions of fans around the world experience that same content also.”
While Miheer Walavalkar, Co-founder and Chief Business Officer, LiveLike, added: “Working with Manchester City has been great for us and our collaboration last season really allowed us to showcase our live streaming capabilities to the broadcast community. With their help, we’ve now been able to create a tailored VR experience for their fans.”
Former Manchester United Manager Louis van Gaal Considered Using VR in Training
VR has already been utilised by numerous teams, across a variety sports around the world for training and football is no different. Former Manchester United FC manager Louis van Gaal had reportedly used VR headsets before Holland finished in third place during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and was considering their use at the club.
Max Reckers, Van Gaal’s performance analyst, said: “The ones who are good FIFA players have a small advantage with the virtual reality. It’s not so much about them being old or young, but the type of personality I think. Some really like to observe themselves, others don’t.
“I didn’t want to be the guy who puts in new technology without the right purpose. You have to change to the situation and your players. United have everything, specialists everywhere.”
His plans to implement VR were to give tactical and game play analysis to players during training. So they would review clips shot through their eyes, enabling them to get a more realistic look into what went right and what went wrong.
That’s been This Week in VR Sport, come back next week for another of VRFocus’ sport roundups.