Germany make history by using VR to aid development | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 20.06.2017
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Germany make history by using VR to aid development

Technology continues to change how sport is consumed, but it is also being used to improve athletes' development. German football has always been at the forefront of development and is now working with something new.

Germany have always seemed to be one step ahead in football. The redevelopment of youth academies brought World Cup success, the concept of the team behind the team and the development of new-age analytical tools. Now though, the German football association (DFB) has made history by forming the first partnership to advance into virtual reality (VR) and how effective it can be in football.

In an article on the Sport Techie website, CEO of STRIVR Derek Belch admitted Germany have long had VR on their radar.

"This is something that was on their roadmap... and they know the limitations of VR for soccer relative to American football," Belch, a former American footballer player at Stanford, was quoted as saying.

"They're willing to get it in now, experiment now, make mistakes now, find the great use cases now," Belch added.

STRIVR's virtual reality training system is to be introduced to Germany's academy, likely in the newly planned academy center in Frankfurt. The focus will be on using VR as a real training and assessment tool that can improve the recall of information, speed up reactions and enhance decision-making ability. As STRIVR said in their statement announcing the agreement with the DFB, the "big component of STRIVR is the ability to practice real-life situations over and over again in preparation for the biggest moments."

Markus Weise, head of the DFB academy's conceptual development unit, is also quoted in the same statement, stating: "VR is an exciting technology... It is something we want to be part of, not just as observers but as drivers."

Based on the work they have already done in American sports working with the likes of the San Francisco 49ers, New England Revolution and the Detroit Pistons, STRIVR claim teams have improved recollection of key concepts by more than 30 percent. NFL quarterbacks have been full of praise for the technology, but there is real intrigue as to how VR will work in a sport with fewer stoppages, such as football.

The German national team have already enjoyed a virtual reality demo, and Nicolas Jungkind, head of the DFB Academy Technology Lab, believes that both players and coaches alike are open to the use of the technology.