Arsenal have paid £100,000 to install a virtual reality system to improve player performance, but it’s left some players sick, according to reports.
Football.london write that several first-team players have complained that the technology gave them motion sickness, and quote Javid Farahani of the Institute of Cognitive Neurosciene, University College London saying: “VR is about showing you all the information but your brain does not need it. It is not the optimal way for the brain to learn.
“Using VR could also result in a form of motion sickness. Among the most common symptoms are nausea, headache, fatigue and disorientation.”
The system works by recreating moments in a match and getting players to make decisions on what to do next. Training in different scenarios repeatedly should increase the number of correct decisions made, and the speed at which the players make those decisions, moving them from the top-down, considered part of the brain to the more instinctual and older bottom-up brain. But whether VR can adequately reproduce a real-life match situation to facilitate the kind of learning that can be carried into reality is debatable.
Beyond Sports, the company who set up the suite, told football.london: “Virtual Reality can offer a special perspective that a normal camera perspective cannot offer, giving the players or coaches the opportunity to relive or train situations through the eyes of a player.
“Youth Academy players will also be able to train at the speed of the first team, making them ready for the first team a lot earlier.”
It seems like it’s too early to say whether any of the claims about the benefits of VR are actually true, especially as the players are reportedly being put off by the negative side-effects.
After the most recent match against Watford, it certainly doesn’t seem like the players’ decision making or reaction times have improved much at all, so perhaps we’ll need to wait for results.
It’s good to see the Gunners trying new things off the pitch to try and improve performance on it, but undoubtedly doing so will result in one or two ideas that just don’t help.