NFL QB Carson Palmer Is "All-In" On VR Training

"I am all-in on this."


He was skeptical at first, but Arizona Cardinals QB Carson Palmer--who has some of the best numbers in all of the NFL--is now a believer in using virtual reality technology to practice and prepare for games.

The Cardinals, and other NFL teams, are using a technology called StriVR with the Oculus Rift headset. Palmer tells Sports Illustrated that he originally fought the idea to use the VR tech (he's the only member of the offense who still uses a three-ring binder instead of a tablet exclusively), but eventually came around.

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Here's how it all works, from Peter King's in-depth SI report, which was originally published in November.

"A 360-degree camera is placed on a thin tripod next to the quarterback at practice, and it's designed to see everything he sees, so that when Palmer puts the headset on he can move his head in any direction and watch, exactly at the moment, everything happening around him. After Palmer walks off the practice field on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, he uses the StriVR system to spot blitz keys. He also has a unit at home that he hooks up to a laptop."

Palmer said the VR tech is "phenomenal."

"I don't buy in to all the new technology, I'm archaic, and I thought, 'There is no way this can change the way I play quarterback.' But I am all-in on this. I'll watch pressures on this during the week, and I swear I have flashbacks from a game, seeing the same pressures. The other thing that is cool about it is watching mechanics, because I can put the camera behind me. So if I'm in the pocket standing one way, I can put the camera behind me, I can have it to my right and to my left, and I can watch my feet. I can watch my arm whip at different angles and make sure my elbow is in the right spot.

"I can watch my feet stepping into throws, and I can go back and see complete or incomplete. 'Am I putting the ball in the right spot?' 'Was it on his face or was it low back hip?' You can accurately see where you missed a throw, or you can see why that throw was so good, because you can see yourself transferring weight and stepping into it."

Palmer's backup QB, Drew Stanton, also said he was a "naysayer" about using VR tech at the start. But he's since grown to understand and appreciate how the system can help improve his game on the field. Stanton said it's "leaps and bounds better than anything you can do to prepare for a game."

StriVR was developed by former Stanford kicker Derek Belch. The technology is used at Stanford, and also at a variety of other colleges. In 2015, the Dallas Cowboys become the first pro team to use the technology. They have not won a Super Bowl since 1996.

Of course, Palmer doesn't train exclusively with StriVR. Be sure to read the full SI report to get all the details.

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