Senior player training in VR, wearing Oculus Quest 2 headset

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The partnership marks an expansion into a new market for digital training company Virti

Quick read

➨ Stapleton Cricket Club is using VR technology to improve how players train and retain core skills during the off season
➨ Partner Virti says Stapleton CC is aiming to use VR to increase players’ engagement with the sport over the winter months
➨ Reactions to the VR training have ‘been incredibly positive’ among senior and junior players

The story

Stapleton Cricket Club (CC) based in Bristol, the UK, is using virtual reality (VR) technology from Virti to improve how players train and retain core skills during the off season.

At 158 years old, Stapleton CC, which runs amateur teams across a range of age groups, is demonstrating an innovative streak by becoming the first cricket club of its kind to deploy VR for this purpose, according to its partner in the project, digital training company Virti, also based in Bristol.

Virti says Stapleton CC is aiming to use VR to increase players’ engagement with the sport over the winter months when there are no competitive matches to play while providing a convenient, effective means for them to remain on top of their games.

Stapleton Cricket Club and Virti introduce immersive training to players

Two-hundred and ten players are being offered the opportunity to train in VR, after slow motion, drone-captured and 360-degree training footage was 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.

Virti says 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 are accessible via a mobile, tablet or headset from anywhere using the Virti app. This will also collect and analyse data on each player’s performance, including accuracy, response time and skill retention, to enable the coaching team to monitor progress remotely and support players.

Person holding smartphone, Virti app can be seen on screen
Virti app

Stapleton CC first team coach Damian Forder says: “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.”

He goes on to say that reactions to the VR training have “been incredibly positive” among senior and junior players.

Forder adds: “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.”

Younger player training in VR
Young Stapleton Cricket Club member training in VR

Immersive training for sports teams, both amateur and professional, is a potentially untapped market for Virti, a company that is primarily focused on healthcare and medical training, with current clients including Musgrove Park Hospital and Bristol University.

The company is ready to expand into such a new market after raising $10 million of funding in a series A round earlier this year.

Its founder, Dr Alex Young, says Virti’s mission as a company going forward “is to improve human performance” in general, adding: “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%.”

He adds: “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.”

The partnership is also an example of how immersive technology-focused companies can contribute to and find partners in the local community, with Virti sponsoring Stapleton CC and supporting the club’s ongoing sustainability efforts.

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Images: Virti