Virtual Reality Technology in Football Coaching: Barriers and Opportunities

Graham Mills, Mihaly Szerovay, Georgi Ivanov

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Virtual reality (VR) technology has the potential to become the next performance
    measure in contemporary coaching methods by enhancing the perceptual ability of football players. This paper aims to analyse perceptions of barriers and opportunities for the adaptation of VR technology in football coaching. After a pilot study was conducted, interviews were carried out with 6 active elite European coaches/performance analysts: 3 from the English Premier League, 1 from the English Championship, 1 from the Dutch Eredivisie and 1 from the Norwegian Eliteserien. The literature review explores football players’ perceptual ability and the processes they undertake on the field, current coaching methods and how thesepromote perceptual ability, and an introduction to VR as an alternative delivery method. The majority of coaches’ perceptions regarding VR can be formulated as the following key barriers to its widespread adoption: lack of conclusive evidence or research; practicality; quality of software; and cognitive overload. Fundamentally, VR needs to overcome these barriers in order to be successfully integrated into contemporary coaching methods. Our findings also present key opportunities for the application of VR including, for example, VR team models; virtual models of play in a VR environment, exposing players to patterns of play experienced in real environments. Additionally, our findings show how VR can be used to enhance player development by facilitating an environment in which players can develop their visual exploratory behaviour (VEB) and the earlier acquisition of task-relevant information, resulting in faster decision making (McGuckain et al. 2019). Significant opportunities regarding player rehabilitation and recovery, as well as VR usage in isolated incidents are also presented in findings and discussion. This paper concludes that VR technology is a developing concept in coaching, that is a potentially valuable supplement to current coaching methods for those actively seeking competitive advantage through technological advancement. Thus, VR’s early implementation can provide a shift in coach behaviours. Tentative conclusions drawn from this insight paper, raise further questions about VR that can be tested in future research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalInternational Sport Coaching Journal
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2020


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