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Public Health and Sport Sciences

Learning and performing sports skills in VR: implications for the ‘real-world’?

There is growing interest in the use of virtual reality (VR) for training sporting skills, but at present there is still limited evidence for its effectiveness. We are interested in whether skills learned in VR can be transferred to the real world to enhance sporting performance.

We have been examining the development of golf putting in VR in collaboration with colleagues from PACLab at the University of Leeds.

A person aiming a rifle on a rifle range, distorted through a 'fish eye' camera lens

As VR poses a number of challenges for performing visually guided skills (unusual depth information and limited haptic feedback), we have been examining the effectiveness of VR training for golf putting performance, and what changes in eye movements may show us about skill learning.

We are also using VR to manipulate sensory information, to see how different cues can affect our actions and learning. For example, we are exploring how hand-eye coordination in racquet sports is influenced by sensory uncertainty and environmental physics.

Furthermore, Dr Gavin Buckingham is looking into how golf putting performance is affected by tactile cues, specifically the feeling of the club making contact with a ball. We also explore the use of 360-degree video footage for training perceptual-cognitive skills.

VR image of a squash racquet and ball

Together this research offers important implications for the field of sport science, and will shed light on how human performance can be enhanced, or potentially impaired, by virtual environments.

Latest publications

For more information, see our latest publications on this topic: