Virtual reality trainer arrives

In February, Saints coach Sean Payton said that virtual reality training for quarterbacks could be coming. It’s now here, and not just for quarterbacks.

As explained by Stephanie Loh of U-T San Diego, former Stanford kicker Derek Belch has developed a goggles-and-headset system that immerses the user in a game situation, based not on a video game presentation but actual football video.

Five major college programs already have begun using the product of Belch’s STRIVR labs, and Arkansas coach Bret Bielema is very impressed.

“It was one of the few times in your coaching career when you’re watching something and you think, ‘This is a game-changer. This is gonna change the way we teach young men,'” Bielema said.

Belch, who left his job as a graduate assistant with Stanford to focus on the STRIVR project. His partner is former Stanford and NFL quarterback Trent Edwards.

And it’s not just a tool for training quarterbacks. After an NFL head coach tried it out, Belch and Edwards decided to make it into a defensive trainer, too.

“Pete Carroll was one of the last guys to see it,” Belch told Loh. “He put it on right away, and as soon as he looked around, the first thing he said was, ‘You could do this for defense.’ After Pete said that, we thought, ‘We have to find a way to use this for defense before the next person sees it.'”

For coaches who have restricted access to players, the system allows for built-in coaching that doesn’t run afoul of applicable limitations.

“During the summer, NCAA rules become very limiting on how much time you can spend with kids and how much football you can talk,” Bielema told Loh. “This, here’s what it is: You can hear us talking and speaking [during a play] and take reps with no countable hours. [Y]ou’re looking at hundreds of different snaps, and it’s like they’ve just been through a practice, but it’s also saving their legs.

“It’s of incredible value to incoming and younger players that need to see the reps to escalate their learning curve. It’s worth its weight in gold.”

It’s as expensive as plenty of gold. Per Loh, the entry-level package costs $250,000. They hope to eventually make it cheaper, so that every college and high school can eventually afford it.

The next step is other sports, from hockey to basketball to baseball. Which means that Belch and Edwards could end up making a lot of money.

25 responses to “Virtual reality trainer arrives

  1. We would use this but we’d be accused of cheating.


  2. 🏆🏆Patriots🏆🏆 says:
    May 21, 2015 9:31 PM

    We would use this but we’d be accused of cheating.
    Every. single. article.

    Boston is proud of you.
    Everyone else is closer to pity.

  3. Great innovation, but why isn’t it cost prohibitive? The NCAA claims they can’t pay players because only a couple teams actually make a profit.

    Fact is, they’re rolling in doe. They’ll buy anything, while claiming to be broke.

  4. This training device has been a long time coming.
    Good on these guys for developing it.
    Mental reps will now be brought to a whole
    new level, and players will be better prepared
    before hitting the field.

    In the end, it’s the fans who will also benefit by watching a higher caliber of football.
    Something to look forward to.

  5. mrbrady says:
    May 21, 2015 10:21 PM
    WE get blamed for EVERYTHING!

    And deservedly so. Then we normal and rationale football fans would be subjected to endless whining by easily duped Pats fans on EVERY SINGLE thread.

  6. Teddy learns from Madden, and was the best rookie QB last year.

    The decade of dominance is upon us.

    Get your popcorn ready.


    All other teams will tremble before the warpath the Minnesota Vikings are about to carve through the NFL.

    Beginning with (what is left of) the Santa Clara 49ers on Monday Night Football Week 1.

    You can disagree all you want, but that would just make you ignorant.

    If you thought us Vikings fans were obnoxious(for exhibiting loyalty to our hometown team regardless(which is more than you will ever be able to say(except you Cleveland/Buffalo, we like you guys)) before we begin our dynasty, wait until we start winning championships.

  7. Question. Is the coach voice in it live? What I mean is, as the player reviews the plays, is the coach actually located elsewhere reviewing it with him and they can talk to one another?

    Because, if so, it would still be considered coaching. Film study.

    AND, let’s say it is used to learn playbooks. Would NFL coaches even want it leaving team facilities where it can be pirated?

    We would end up seeing individual teams stuff on on torrent sites.

  8. And, really…when you think about it…the same thing could be accomplished through the internet so far as film study with voice over.

    Kind of makes me want to design a website for it and sell it cheaper to make money 😉

  9. btw, goggles would not be needed over the net. Computer screen works fine, and a touch screen interface would allow player and coach to draw on the film footage.

    Dang…I need to shut up and start programing…

  10. Wait. Chip Kelly isn’t taking credit for inventing this? I thought he invented everything new.

  11. Wow…the guy is using the Occulus Rift VR developers headset and not a single mention about it? No offense, I think the VR training thing is a huge step forward, but all this guy is doing is developing a software program to run on someone else’s technology. It’s like programing a new Madden game for the PC and claiming you built the technology…ummm no. sorry

  12. First thing Belichick would do if he got this would be to hack it so he could continue communicating to the QB while the play is going on.

  13. Derek Belch

    NON-kudos to all NFL teams for not drafting this guy in Round 7.

    Also, I’m signing up for virtual reality commenter classes. $23 well spent.

  14. I believe this is a breakthrough training aid.

    This will soon be in every locker room that can afford it.

    By that I mean everyone except high schools, for the time being.

  15. So the colleges are saying their players can spend hours using this device and it WON’T be included in the “countable hours” per NCAA regulations?


    The professionalization of college players continues. Even less time is dedicated towards coursework.

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