Michigan Football: Virtual Reality and it’s Potential Impact
Darren Rovell retweeted this remarkable development from the University of Michigan and how they are using virtual reality during the recruiting process.
— Michigan Athletics (@UMichAthletics) August 4, 2015
The idea that this sparked for me was a general curiosity of “how much of a positive impact could virtual reality have on the development of football?”
Think of the idea every quarterback in the NFL could put a virtual reality head set on at some point and his coaches could set up an entire virtual reality game for him to play in without any of the risks of being tackled and getting injured. This is the kind of innovation that could help with decreasing the risk of injury in practices with targeted usage and watching film. It will also allow a player to play an entire game in a sort of no contact practice with just himself, so he could practice all spring and summer to prepare for the season through playing games in virtual reality, by himself. The positive effect that virtual reality will have on increasing the skills of players and their experience level will be incalculable, especially considering the lower risk of injury in this no contact situation. Virtual reality will take a huge amount of risk for injury out of the equation, but will give users many of the same benefits of recognizing patterns in the defense, learning plays, working on footwork, increasing vision, and so much more. Eventually, these players will be able to put a whole seasons worth of work in during the offseason in a non-contact environment. Of course, the risks of a non-contact type ACL injury is always there, just like it is there in any sort of training or football activity.
Imagine how much better workouts with teams would be if you just had the free agent actually play the position in a virtual reality? That’s worlds more useful than having him run a 40-yard dash and do some drills on air.
Imagine how many concussions could be avoided or how much improvement could be made without the risk of a concussion? That’s a massive opportunity for the NFL.
This kind of thinking by Harbaugh is why I’m writing a chapter in Caponomics right now that’s all about the innovations we see from a small group of coaches in the NFL and Jim Harbaugh is one of those main innovators as a coach. His work in San Francisco was remarkable, for him to come into a 49ers organization that hadn’t had much success in years and to immediately take them to three straight seasons of NFC Championship or better is a huge illustration of how well thought out his offensive and defensive systems and coaching ideas are.
Just like Pete Carroll, he brought the league back a little old school with the kind of physically style of play he brought to the organization with the powerful rushing attack that used the quarterback’s legs well, along with a stout defense. His first season was 2011, so the lockout shortened the amount of time that he had with his team to prepare them for the season and they still made the NFC Championship, where they lost at home to the eventual champion Giants. A large reason why Harbaugh was a leading innovator in the NFL was because he did a great job of taking a job with a team that had the pieces for him to amplify their efficiency on offense and defense in his system.
Urban Meyer is in that chapter as well, he’s one of the leaders in this group of coaches who I think every NFL organization can learn from, so the kind of innovation that we’re going to see in the Big 10 with Harbaugh and Meyer playing each other once a year in a huge, historic rivalry that will cause both of them to compete each against each other and innovate in a way that will drastically increase the level of thinking in the football universe. I go into detail in Caponomics in regard to how innovative both of these coaches have been at every stop in their career.
This virtual reality is a great example of the kind of innovative thinking that can be applied to the league and can be a huge advantage like Chip Kelly’s sports science program is. The amount of data that is being shared in the NFL today with sites like Football Outsiders, Pro Football Focus, and so many others is having a huge impact on how the game is thought about and is increasing the level of thought in our combined football consciousness and is definitely impacting the game today and will impact the next innovations and ideas that come as a result of the sharing of that information. Add in the kind of technology that helps compile things like tendencies and others that help coordinators prepare for the week’s game, then add in a virtual reality that will allow you to test your ideas off of these tendencies every week…
I believe that Moore’s Law doesn’t only apply to technology, although it does apply in this case, but I also believe that the technology itself has the kind of impact in the real world that is seen in the technology itself. The world of football and the ideas that we are discussion as a collective group are getting better and better, faster and faster. There’s no way to measure this, but a kind of doubling of our knowledge of the NFL every 18 months is not that far-fetched and virtual reality would impact that in a way I couldn’t even try to predict
As always, if you want to join the e-mail list for Caponomics, e-mail me at Caponomics@gmail.com to get a chapter on the 2000 Ravens and be alerted to when the book will be made available.