How the NFL Uses Virtual Reality for Training

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How NFL Uses VR for Training

Games, and more recently, game-based learning, are dominating the development of Virtual Reality. Devices such as the Oculus-Rift, Hololens, Google Glass, and Leap Motion, to name a few, are blasting VR into outer space when it comes to usability and applicability. It's safe to say that VR is the new kid on the block in many areas related to technological and educational advancements.

Then, why not use virtual reality training for football players? Well, you can, and some organizations are already doing it. One concrete example is the NFL virtual reality training that offers players the option of injury-free training and learning. But, before we can delve into this specific subject, let's explore what VR is!

Read also: 5 Virtual Reality Benefits HR Managers Should Know About

What is Virtual Reality

If you are completely cut off from the outside world, immersed in an experience which can simulate the outside world or completely negate it, then you're experiencing virtual reality (or it's a dream). VR and its sister technologies Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) have been mainly used for entertainment and educational purposes. To this, the NFL added Simulated Reality (SM), in which American football players can safely run practice games without the risk of injury.

The modern VR systems make use of head-mounted displays or VR rooms to immerse the user in the desired environment. These environments rely heavily on video and auditory feedback and can incorporate haptic technology. Haptic technology, also known as 3D Touch, allows the user to feel by integrating vibrations and pressure into the experience. The user can look and move around in this fabricated world as well as interact with virtual objects. Some NFL VR training goes even further in allowing the player to use real-world objects within the simulated practice game.

Read also: The Differences Between AR, VR, and MR

Tools and Methodologies

The need for VR in American football became evident due to the high risk of injury and concussion associated with this sport. Ex-Air-Force Academy player and coach Ted Sundquist anticipated the benefits of incorporating VR into football players' training routines. Sundquist brought a new vision to the game (pun intended) due to his experience with air flight simulations used by pilots. He realized that it wasn't enough for players to see the action in virtual reality, they needed to interact with the game directly.

QBSIM Platform

Founded in 2016 by Ted Sundquist, Sports VTS developed the QBSIM platform that blends state-of-the-art VR training tech with quarterback training best practices. The result is an immersive experience that puts the quarterback at the center of the action. The platform is unique in that the player can use a real ball to complete realistic game behaviors. The player's reactions to the simulation are then tracked and used to improve the simulation and player performance.


The proprietary VR technology developed by STRIVR is used for both learning and training. Its application to NFL football players consists of reviewing past games in virtual reality. This allows players to perform mental reps, learn game strategies, and make better, faster decisions during real-world games.

STRIVR is credited with enhancing player performance for an increasing number of players and coaches. Case Keenum of the Minnesota Vikings reports that STRIVR game simulations have helped make him a better player. According to STRIVR CEO Derek Belch, Keenum has long been immersed in running VR gameplays and this trend continued even after he started getting reps in on the field. Keenum has done 2647 mental plays in VR and the data supports his claims about VR training adding to his performance on the field.

Read also: 7 Key Elements of VR Training to Boost Employee Engagement and Retention

Uses for VR in the NFL

Using VR in NFL training practices enhances player performance in various areas:

  • Increased ability to correctly read offense and defense schemes

  • Faster response and decision making

  • Higher throw accuracy

  • Real-time feedback on in-game behaviors

  • Train muscle memory

  • Train for generalization and long-term retention

Players can also receive more accurate assessments through the use of virtual reality training, have the chance of playing hundreds of reps, and experience zero risks of injury of concussion.

Read also: 5 Examples of Immersive VR Training Solutions to Increase Training ROI


We knew VR was an up-and-coming technology, but we probably never imagined the breadth of scope this immersive training and learning tech would have. The NFL virtual reality training simulations confirm that VR can be highly useful and effective in training sports players. To learn more about VR you can head over to our resources page for a variety of informative. If you're curious about building a VR application don't hesitate to get in touch with our team!