Football fans are no strangers to seeing new technologies being introduced and tested out in the sport. Of course, that doesn’t mean everyone will openly embrace it, though. You might remember the divided opinions on the use of video assistant referees (VAR) at the World Cup this summer. It will no doubt continue with different forms of innovations or ideas coming from a sports company. In fact, VR is starting to make a significant impact off the pitch.

According to Managing Madrid, a Real Madrid footballer is using VR as part of his recovery from an injury. Martin Ødegaard spent last season out on loan at Sportclub Heerenveen and suffered a fractured metatarsal back in April. The Norwegian footballer has missed out the rest of the season, but that has not stopped him from trying to speed up his efforts in recovery.

Ødegaard posted a video on his Instagram page of him using a VR headset and holding an Xbox controller, with the laptop in the background showing how he has been transported to a virtual football pitch. He continues to manoeuvre his head as he looks for where the other virtual footballers are.

Ødegaard, who is now back at Real Madrid after the end of his loan spell, commented: “Fun, but hard work. No physical load.”

The footballer added that the VR technology is “helping me train [my] vision and decision-making during my injury period”. It should not be that much of a surprise that he even used the hashtag “#Futureoffootballtraining” to show his thoughts on how the piece of tech is going to change football.

Considering some of the lengthy periods of time that footballers can be sidelined for with an injury, the creation of a virtual pitch will attract the interest of football clubs across the world. There is no doubt that it could help footballers with their long-term injuries, especially as a form of ‘virtual training’ while they prepare to come back into their respective football teams.

Professor Geir Jordet, who was a former footballer and teaches at the department of coaching and psychology at the Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, is an important figure in the development of this football recovery. The research that he used to create the tech had him focus on famous footballers such as Andrea Pirlo and Xavi.

According to research from Business Communications Company Research (via Digital TV Europe), the worldwide market for VR and AR technology is set to increase by 60.4 per cent for the period between 2018 to 2023. It also identified that gaming would be the “most immediate and dominant application” for both pieces of tech.

Ødegaard used a gaming controller as part of his rehabilitation, but there’s little doubt that more companies could use a console as the platform for where the training is done from. With headsets like PlayStation VR and Oculus VR available for console gaming, then it is certainly accessible for most clubs to potentially consider a short-term investment and see how it benefits their injured players.

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