The panelists: Bret Bielema, University of Arkansas football coach, Derek Belch, co-founder of STRIVR and former Stanford football player, George Schroeder, USA Today sportswriter
The gist: Virtual reality is helping football teams prepare for games. Belch, who was a graduate assistant coach at Stanford after his playing days, is trying to convince football coaches across the country to buy into Virtual Reality as a training tool. Bielema, after first thinking VR was a glorified video game, is a big believer. After each practice, the coach has his team go through 15 minutes of plays, which are shot from the view of a quarterback, linebacker or safety. The video is sent to Belch’s team, which can work its VR magic in about five hours. Bielema converted a room, normally used once a week for press conferences, into a VR area where the players can come and don the headsets needed for viewing and walk through the plays.
The takeaway: Bielema believes that one year of VR study basically is worth five seasons of experience. Belch says he has 20 teams as clients and is looking for more. He has put out feelers to test interest of major college programs in the state. The Dallas Cowboys already are on board. Belch won’t say how much he’s charging, but says high school teams can’t afford it, as yet.
Here’s another way coaches can use VR: recruiting. Bielema has VR of walking into the stadium, or eating at the football training table, even sitting in the middle of a meeting room. Non-football players can don the headset and pretend they’re a quarterback. Bielema said an 85-year old female fan instantly became a Razorbacks quarterback. She took off the headset and wrote a $100,000 check.
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