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Be Your Best: VR that Simulates Scenarios Based on Real Football Matches

Image Credits: Be Your Best
By: Headliners News / January 26, 2024

In the world of football (soccer), a new frontier is unfolding, seamlessly merging the physical prowess of athletes with the virtual space. Norwegian international and english premier league club Arsenal’s captain, Martin Odegaard, finds himself alone on a cold London night, eschewing conventional warm-ups for an unconventional routine. As fans flood the stadium, Odegaard engages in a peculiar exercise – a mental workout called “scanning.”

Mastering the art of scanning became crucial for Odegaard after a debilitating injury in 2018. Introduced to virtual reality by a compatriot from Be Your Best, an Oslo-based startup, Odegaard embraced a VR software that simulated scanning scenarios based on real football matches. This marked the inception of a broader phenomenon in sports tech: brain training.

Be Your Best App for Footballers

Image Credit: Be Your Best

Odegaard, temporarily sidelined from the physical demands of the game, delved into the immersive world of virtual football. Equipped with a headset and haptic controllers, he navigated the pitch from a first-person perspective, honing his cognitive skills. Metrics tracked his scan rate, scan timing, critical scans, situational awareness, and decision-making.

Research indicates the effectiveness of this approach. Players training with Be Your Best demonstrated improvements in scan frequency and forward passing – a vital component of goal-scoring. The experience, as described by Odegaard and confirmed by studies, transcended mere training; it became a dynamic and engaging facet of the footballer’s routine.

Be Your Best, conceived by former football prospect turned tech entrepreneur Andreas Olsen, draws inspiration from his own journey. A shift from a football career marred by injury to a tech-driven pursuit led him to envision a product that addresses the cognitive aspects of the game, particularly in-game intelligence and scanning skills.

The broader landscape of sports science has seen a paradigm shift from physical training to cognitive enhancement. Visionaries like Arsene Wenger, former manager of Arsenal and current head of global football development at FIFA, advocate for leveraging technology to train the brain. Leading teams, including RC Lens, PSV, and Liverpool FC, have embraced cognitive tech to optimize player performance.

A notable player who sought BYB’s assistance is Real Madrid’s Aurélien Tchouaméni, who successfully transitioned from midfield to defense with the aid of Be Your Best simulations. Wenger’s exploration of cognitive tech dates back to 2017, where VR systems aimed at enhancing decision-making were tested.

The concept of scanning, pioneered by Norwegian football psychologist Professor Geir Jordet, has been a focal point of research. The correlation between scanning frequency and passing accuracy has been established, with high scanners exhibiting a higher completion rate of forward passes – a critical factor in goal-scoring.

The impact of Be Your Best extends beyond elite players, reaching youth players and football academies. FC Copenhagen, for instance, co-developed a cognitive assessment tool called BYBCAT, tailored to measure game intelligence across various abilities. Identifying cognitive capabilities at an early stage enables clubs to guide players toward the first team with specialized training.

While the cultural divide in football training methods persists, with Europe exhibiting skepticism towards new ideas, signs suggest a shift in attitude. As football continually grows and transforms into a global business, the importance of cognitive skills becomes undeniable, bridging the gap between physical prowess and mental acuity on the field.

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