The VR startup was founded in 2016 by former Boise State University football player Jason Robinson with the goal of improving football players’ intelligence on the field.
Robinson serves as chief executive of Playbook Five, which is based in View Park-Windsor Hills. The company aims to reshape the way professional coaches and athletes learn and experience football, and its technology is catching on.
Playbook Five’s VR platform is being used by teams at local high schools, community colleges and in the National Football League. Squads using the platform include the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Boise State, El Camino College and Inglewood High School.
The technology consists of two elements — a mobile app and a Google Cardboard device. Coaches upload their playbook with various positions to the app, where athletes can study it. Players use their Google Cardboard device to virtually see the football field and play in real time.
Robinson, 32, said Playbook Five gives athletes the ability to not only strengthen their own position but role play with others.
“Any type of play or group exercise done at practice can be simulated through the app. When players log on, you can select from any position with multiple view options, such as first person or sky view,” Robinson said. “From there, you can go through the play in a series of tempos because every player has different learning styles. Overall, it’s a dynamic tool that is built to be customized.”
According to Playbook Five, its virtual platform has increased teams’ understanding of schemes and assignments by 33%.
Robinson started playing football at age 7 and learned the sport from his father, who was a football coach at a local high school. Robinson was offensive player of the year in 2005 at University High School in West Los Angeles, then attended Boise State, where he played as a safety and on special teams.
He got the idea for Playbook Five after attending the Forbes Under 30 Summit in 2015, where he learned that VR was poised to become a fundamental tool in the future of education. Robinson said he realized football lacked a tool like this.
“Who better than to build out an immersive world of sports than someone who grew up in an immersive world of sports?” he said.
NFL linebacker Malcolm Smith, who was named MVP in Super Bowl XLVIII while playing for the Seattle Seahawks, said he’s an avid user of Playbook Five. He uses it on and off the field while practicing training repetitions. Smith said he is “locked in with Playbook Five, catching reps at all moments.”
With Covid-19 temporarily shutting down stadiums and canceling games and practices, Robinson said Playbook Five’s daily active usage increased by nearly 35% in 2020.
“Because of somewhat forced usage, people have now seen the value in it, and it’s now become a part of their routine and the benefits of that is showing up in the data,” Robinson said.
Playbook Five Brings Virtual Reality to Football