The NFL may have found a new way for players to practice more efficiently and from a more realistic perspective.
The Dallas Cowboys have introduced a drone to film part of their practices this offseason and they will also use virtual reality to help their players improve in 2015. According to Re/code, the Cowboys are going to begin using "live-action 3-D video replay" with their quarterbacks among other new innovations.
The Cowboys have inked a two-year deal with StriVR Labs, a virtual reality sports startup, to train all of its quarterbacks using a VR headset, according to a source familiar with the deal. After donning the headset, players see a live-action 3-D video replay of a football play from the quarterback's perspective, and can review that play from a first-person view over and over, looking in any direction.
Currently, StriVR's technology is not interactive, but instead aims to teach quarterbacks decision-making skills in the context of a real play. It also aims to make it easier to give both starters and backup quarterbacks more opportunities to learn without needing the whole team on the field.
Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett credits SMU coach Chad Morris for this idea after seeing the Mustangs use drones during spring practices,
"It's interesting because it gives you the chance from behind to see all 11 guys on offense and all 11 guys on defense but from a closer angle," Garrett said via ESPN. "Oftentimes you have to kind of pull yourself away to get the all-22 shot. This allows you to get a little closer so you can coach better. You can see hand placement. You see where they have their feet, where they have their eyes. I think that's important. You can look at that and coach them better being that much closer to the action."
The Atlanta Falcons are also considering adding the system, but so far, Dallas is the only team to incorporate virtual reality to this degree. There's no question it provides a new and intuitive method of training players and helping them study the game from a different perspective.
The only problem is the costliness to make this available to an entire roster. It's not like NFL teams aren't bringing in billions of dollars though, so we could begin seeing more of this as time goes on, if it proves to be effective.