Virtual reality could help footballers improve their header skills without the repetitive headbutts of a ball, according to a new study.
Players involved in a study at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Institute of Sport and the Department of Sport and Exercise Science showed better performance in the ‘real world’ header compared to a control group after training with a VR headset who did no training.
The study found that the VR group also reported greater confidence and efficiency in head training compared to the control group.
The study, titled “A Preliminary Examination of the Effectiveness of Header Training in Immersive Virtual Reality,” was published Tuesday in Virtual Reality magazine.
It offers some insights into how players can improve their header technique despite training limitations.
The Football Association’s guidelines discourage all header training for under-12s, while an attempt is underway this season and next to completely eliminate intentional header training from matches up to and including this age group.
At ages 12 and 13, heading should be limited to a single session with no more than five headers, and at ages 14 to 17 to no more than 10 headers per session, according to the FA’s guidelines.
Football is looking for ways to reduce the number of headers during their careers (Mike Egerton/PA)
Even in adult soccer at all skill levels, players are advised to only perform 10 “higher power headers” per training week, such as B. Headers from crosses, corners, free kicks and returning shots on goal.
Exposure to head punches has been limited due to concerns about the sub-concussive effect of repeated headers on a player’s longer-term well-being.
The 2019 FIELD study found that professional footballers were three and a half times more likely to die from a neurodegenerative disease than their general population peers.
“With the increasing restrictions on the game of headers in professional and youth football, it is evident that alternative methods of training header confidence and technique will be required as long as it remains an integral part of the game,” the VR paper concluded.
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“The work presented here provides early evidence that immersive VR may have a place in any new approach to training this important skill.”
A total of 36 adult recreational gamers, consisting of 30 men and six women, took part in the study.
The 36 people were split into two groups of 18, with 16 men and two women in the control group not using the VR headsets between headlining sessions in the “real world,” and 14 men and four women in the VR Group.
The VR group used the Oculus Quest 2 head-mounted display and the Rezzil Player 22 application for VR soccer header training.
Ben Marshall, Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University Institute of Sport, said: “Our results show that Virtual Reality (VR) based training can be used to improve real-world header performance and that this method is more effective .” than the ability not to train at all.
“This is important as current training guidelines recommend limiting the number of physical headers executed in training for all age groups due to the long-term risks involved to player health.
“Our results suggest that the inclusion of VR-based training could play an important role in the development of header skills in football, while also reducing the number of real-world headers and sub-concussive headbutts that players have to face – which is really positive.” is.”