Video Games Used as a Training Tool for Athletes

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Have you ever thought about playing FIFA as a form of rehab? Or what about playing NBA Live as a warm up? With the current state of video games and electronic entertainment as well as HD television many professional athletes play video games as a way of preparing for their matches. It sounds crazy, but video games are now so realistic that character’s movements in the games mimic their movements in real life. An article in the New York Times by Joe Brescia asked USF alum and professional soccer player Connor Chinn, NHL player Rob Schremp and NASCAR racer Joey Logano about how video games improve their game.

Connor Chinn, a player for the professional soccer team New York Red Bulls said, “ It gets your soccer brain started that day,” about playing the Electronic Arts soccer video game ‘FIFA’ every morning before a match. Because the graphics are so realistic each player “passes, shoots, and moves exactly as they do in real life.”

Besides providing a way to relax before a big match, athletes also use video games as a form of rehab. National Hockey League professional Rob Schremp of the New York Islanders plays the E.A. game N.H.L. as a way to stay focused and involved with hockey after a terrible knee injury.

Many athletes here at USF play games like FIFA soccer or NBA Live basketball, even in their locker rooms on match days. It is a perfect way for team members to relax and bond before a big game. Because coaches usually encourage rest before a game, video games are a perfect way for a team to interact without using any physical energy. It can create camaraderie and good team chemistry especially when teammates play with or against each other.

One of the most amazing games around is on the website iRacing.com where professional racecar drivers like Joey Logano can go and practice racing just before the real thing. Because the site uses real NASCAR tracks, and because the tracks are so realistic, drivers can practice the turns at home. Every turn and every bump in the simulation is modeled exactly as the track in real life.

However, video gaming can become detrimental especially when athletes would rather play games than do actual training. As with anything gaming is good only in moderation. It can’t help an athlete’s actual skill, fitness, or mental strength and can actually distract a player from being mentally prepared right before a game.

In fact teams like the Texas Rangers of Major League Baseball have banned video games from the locker room saying that athletes should either be thinking about the match, working out, or working with the trainer: not gaming.

In any case, video games are a great equalizer. No matter what their effects on the skills or abilities of an actual player are they act as a way for teammates to bond. Videogames are a universal language and provide an outlet for teammates to get to know each other that is fun, convenient and relaxing.

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