In the press

How virtual reality is improving decisions in soccer and in business

A 3D simulation is changing the behaviors of the world’s best soccer players — and the business world is catching on.

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Originally published in Strategy + Business, 2019 by Ben Littleton

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I am standing in a fashionable London hotel bar wearing a virtual reality (VR) headset. My right foot occasionally kicks out, as though I’m dancing (badly) to a silent beat. All I can see is the green grass of a soccer field, my teammates moving in different directions, and a ball coming toward me, rather fast. My job is to find the right pass before an opponent tackles me. I have one second.

This task is designed to improve my visual perception and decision making under pressure. Be Your Best, the tool I am using, claims to measure the intangible attributes that can give players an edge — skills such as anticipation, resilience, and deciding which passes to make. It senses where I am looking and where the other “players” are. I press a button to release the ball, and its direction is logged. VR makes this process immersive, and so I end up connecting to the experience on an emotional level as well as an intellectual one. All the time that I am using it, the system is gauging the consequences of my actions and providing feedback.

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