Bristol cricketers are using VR training to stay on top form during off season
Leading Bristol Cricket Club Stapleton CC is partnering with a Bristol-based immersive training company to improve how players train and retain core skills during off season, using Virtual Reality technology.
The 158-year-old club is the first amateur sports team to use cutting-edge deep learning technology from Bristol developer Virti to enhance training and improve performance. It’s hoped that the introduction of VR training will increase players’ engagement with the sport over the winter months and provide a convenient, effective means for athletes to remain on their A-game.
The combination of slow motion, drone-captured and 360-degree VR training footage - which is being offered to 210 players for free - has been filmed at the club’s Stapleton grounds and directed by the coaching team. The 30-minute videos cover key skills, including batting and bowling techniques, with special instruction for beginner players and for children. Plans are underway for the club to create additional modules over the coming months, making use of the expertise of the senior players and coaches to drive performance.
The videos, which are accessible via a mobile, tablet or VR/AR headset, can be accessed from anywhere using the Virti app. The platform’s sophisticated inbuilt AI collects and analyses data on each player’s performance - from accuracy and response time to skill retention - enabling the coaching team to monitor players’ progress remotely and support every club member to improve their game and access quality coaching during the winter training hiatus.
Following the initial success of this partnership, Virti plans to partner with more sports teams and athletes in the region (at both an amateur and professional level) on immersive training programmes over the next 12 months.
Stapleton Cricket Club 1st Team Coach, Damian Forder, said:
“Stapleton is a club with a long history, which makes it all the more exciting that today’s generation of players are the very first cricketers to use Virti’s cutting-edge technology.
“The reaction to the VR training has been incredibly positive, with senior and junior club players showing real enthusiasm to try their hand at virtual cricket.
“By giving all of our members the opportunity to train and develop their skills outside of club practice sessions, we’re making the sport more inclusive and accessible than ever.
“All of the coaching and management team here at Stapleton hope that our partnership with Virti will help us to inspire a new generation to fall in love with cricket.”
Virti’s immersive reality training technology is also currently being used to train surgeons at nearby Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, and medical students at Bristol University. The company, which was founded in Bristol in 2018 by local surgeon Dr Alex Young, recently raised $10 million to develop and roll out their innovative Extended Reality (XR) training platform for hard and soft skills. Virti was named one of TIME's Best Inventions of 2020 and Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies of 2021.
Virti’s founder and CEO, Dr Alex Young, said:
“Virti’s mission is to improve human performance, so we’re thrilled to embark on this partnership to help train and upskill the athletes at Stapleton CC.
“Cricket is a sport which demands a high level of technical skill from all players. Repeated practice of core techniques in a VR environment has been proven to improve confidence, skill level and knowledge retention to a significantly higher degree than traditional training alone - in some cases by up to 230%.
“Remote training removes the barriers of cost, time and space that can often prevent people from improving their sporting skills or engaging with new sporting pursuits.
“This partnership will help Stapleton CC to recruit and engage new players, to widely share the expertise of their elite coaching team, and to prepare for their strongest season to date in 2022.”
Virti are also new sponsors of Stapleton CC and are supporting the club’s ongoing sustainability journey by sponsoring a set of reusable eco-friendly cups for use in the bar.