Can VR training help a QB take his team to the Super Bowl?
Casey Keenum seems like an unlikely hope for the Minnesota Vikings. The previously undrafted, unwanted QB has led them to a 13-3 record as the second-most-accurate passer in the league (67.6 percent). Of the quarterbacks starting playoff games this season, Keenum had the best regular-season Total QBR at 69.6 -- second only to the now-injured Carson Wentz's 75.7
Derek Belch of VR training startup STRIVR believes it is because of his reps in VR.
“The tendency for a quarterback against the blitz is to speed up when he sees the blitz coming when, in reality, he needs to slow down,” said Derek Belch, co-founder and CEO of STRIVR to ESPN. “I know it’s only fractions of a second. He needs to say, ‘Where do I need to go? What do I need to do to not make a hurried decision?’ I think seeing these reps again and again in VR helps these guys do that.
Belch says that Keenum goes into Minnesota’s VR room at the practice facility and is able to comb through a few hundred reps in VR as part of his final preparation. Blech also says that Keenum has viewed 2,647 plays through the virtual reality platform.
Personally, I am a believer in VR for sports training as I have actually worked and developed a product along with Oakland Raiders QB Derek Carr that helped him during his recovery from injury. Though I can not speak on that product outside of the video here I do know that VR can have an impact on a team needing to get a QB up to speed.
VR has potential and perhaps NFL teams will need VR specialists in the future? Companies like STRIVR and RADD3 are developing systems to adopt playbooks into VR where you could run the plays repeatedly until they're second nature? With the recent understanding of injuries in Football there is even a chance VR could help reduce these factors.