The way we watch and play sports is changing, thanks to digital technological contributions. Streaming is the new way to watch games and matches, making the sports we love to watch more accessible. The way coaches evaluate and train their players and how players train is also changing sports strategy through technology. 

Digital technology and sports are becoming more connected by studying how to capture better statistical Data and the physical actions in sports training and performance. These merging areas mean more efficient and user-friendly software and hardware to measure and improve performance, knowledge, and training for football clubs and analysts. 

For football fans, the relationship between digital technology and sports becomes a front-row seat to the action. Fans get access to stats on their favorite teams and players, exclusive experiences, and entry into virtual communities of like-minded individuals and interests alike.

Replay Institute 

Replay Institute is a privately held and relatively new company founded in 2018 by CEO Tim Monrad Larsen. Larsen leads a staff of 9 specialists. The team’s ongoing mission is to develop and promote Replay’s software, designed to improve athletes’ mental and physical aptitude using immersive learning through VR technology. 

The Replay team has diligently developed a sports training software that joins digital technology and sports, particularly football. The purpose is to create an immersive experience for coaches and players to be more effective in their training routines through a virtual reality environment. 

Replay Institute Team
Denmark's House of Sport

In the House of Sports 

The Idrættens Hus <House of Sport> is a multipurpose meeting, sports, hotel, and dining establishment in Brøndby, Denmark. Within the House of Sport are Denmark’s sports hall of fame and Replay Institute. Its location is a strategic setting for the software company. It’s also home to Danmarks Idrætsforbund or DIF <Member of the Sports Confederation of Denmark> and DIF Innovation Lab (The Danish Arena for Sports and Innovation). 

The DIF Innovation Lab connects universities, startups, and companies with innovative products and practices with athletes and the sports industry, from middle to advanced levels throughout Denmark. Additionally, Replay situates itself in the House of Sport to utilize performance data from football <soccer> players and integrate player data into its simulations.

What is ReplayFootball™?

Players and teams looking for ways to measure and improve their performance have typically used big data, statistics, and video recordings of sporting events. However, VR training and analytical software companies capable of providing learning experiences in a virtual world are taking the lead in sports tactical software. 

ReplayFootball™ is a software that allows coaches and players to review match plays and efficiently implement plays from the playbook. The software is a strategic and planning tool that creates performance data, assesses player performance, and develops knowledge retention using mental and physical training tactics. Using 360° virtual reality viewing, ReplayFootball™ immerses the user into a digital learning environment. The ReplayFootball™ has three overall modules, Replay Mode, Tactical Mode, and Video Mode. 

Wearing the 3D goggles 

ReplayFootball™ software with VR goggles (Oculus Go or the Quest2)is a perfect way for players to measure their understanding of the game from a unique vantage point. Wearing 3D goggles with ReplayFootball™, the user directly sees as if they were actually on the pitch.  Allowing players to see other players around them, becoming aware of their play options like where to pass the ball can sharpen their tactical awareness on the pitch.

Image of person testing ReplayFootball™ wearing VR goggles.
ReplayFootball™

Replay Mode

In Replay Mode, the user is capable of recreating football matches from positional data. The VR technique is also available in the Replay Mode data matches, allowing the user to review the recorded match from a prime vantage point. Replay Mode can be inspirational for youth players by seeing how professional players make strategic decisions viewed through the eyes of the professional in action on the pitch.

Tactical Mode

Tactical Mode is a timesaver for clubs and a helpful tool for players to remember the plays from the playbook. In the Tactical Mode, coaches and users can create and animate the virtual environment they choose, creating a virtual playbook. Several viewers can watch the animation on screen in this Mode or use virtual reality goggles and joysticks. 

Video Mode

Video is probably the most used means for coaches and players to review what happened in a match. ReplayFootball™ has an analytical mode called Video Mode created on the classical approach of reviewing match footage and a drawing board. Combining these two tools allows players and coaches to add custom graphics on top of the video footage to highlight specific plays or point out additional player options.

The Data that goes into ReplayFootball™

Third-party data providers provide Replay Institute with the player data used in the Replay Mode of ReplayFootball™. In this module, tracking the players’ movements and the ball is precise. The Data is captured and collected using several cameras recording from multiple angles combined with machine learning software to extract the player’s and the ball’s position.

The role of the Performance Analysts is vital in the data collection and analysis of this ‘big data.’ Analysts use tracking hardware and software to assess sports performance to collect performance data presented to coaches and teams for player insights and development. In addition to capturing the data by video, they tag the player’s actions and then catalog them onto a playlist for review. In the study, the coaches and players examine tactical actions in both offensive and defensive plays.

Business intelligence analyst dashboard on virtual screen. Big data Graphs Charts.
Young man in VR glasses pushing a wall.

The challenges of machines meeting human

While performance analysts provide an extensive and detailed data set for Replay Institute, merging this Data into its software is technologically challenging. The challenge itself is programming minor actions and movements performed by the players into the software. There is no means to document which direction a player looks or how the player directly interacts with the ball, which could be vital in player development and performance. 

There are two ways the programmers work to overcome this challenge. The first solution is to estimate based on the velocity of the players to determine further how else the player is moving. The other way is using event data from the performance analysts. The performance analysts use hotkeys to document movement patterns such as when players kick the ball, touch, tackle another player, and throw in the ball.

What’s Next for Replay Institute?

The road ahead can always promise to bring a whole slew of challenges from software to business negotiations, which has yet to deter this team’s motivation. Instead, the programmers are working hard to develop a playlist feature in ReplayFootball’s™ Tactical Mode, intending to combine different video clips to perform a player analysis.

The Replay Institute team is also hard at work building TechLab, a physical space designed for virtual reality learning and exploring while gathering data in-house. Replay Institute’s hope for TechLab is to innovate real-world scenarios in football and eventually other sports through the application of virtual reality. 

Replay Institute welcomes like-minded partners within sports, technology, and funding to help them empower sport. For more information, contact Replay Institute at: info@replayinstitute.com

Hands of two business people fist bumping.