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Fit Tech People: Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil

Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 1

What is Rezzil?
Rezzil is a market leading VR training and cognitive development tool for elite football and is already installed at world leading football clubs.

We’re in daily use by elite players aiming to improve cognitive fitness. We’re gradually making the platform more accessible – starting with academies and grassroots clubs then finally ending up on the PlayStation or Oculus Quest in your living room!

What’s your background?
I’ve worked in sport for over 10 years now, doing a wide range of roles related to data, analysis and performance. My career and knowledge took a real boost whilst working with Manchester City FC under Pellegrini’s win in 2014. I learned so much about working with teams at that level. After leaving Man City I worked as a consultant at various other teams across the EFL and Premier League, during which time I met my co-founders Adam and Gareth.

How did you develop Rezzil?
Adam and Gareth were working on a piece of VR technology for fan experiences. It was such a cool idea and so well executed, but I saw it had a much wider application in performance rather than just for fans.
Over the years we’ve worked together to perfect that experience and add meaningful data layers underneath that generate useful information that teams and players can use to improve their performance.

Underneath it all is a data capture system and algorithm that reads physical signs from a player’s performance and computes that information to turn it into something that’s readable for humans. It’s a small step behind AI – another area of development for us – where the machine itself is appraising what you do.

How did you develop the drills?
Any drill is always grounded in solid research. For example, for one of the drills, we looked at papers on subjects such as perceptual and exploratory activity or ‘scanning behaviour and real-time processing’ in game.

We then create a way to test a player’s capacity for this without needing to use game-specific events. It might seem an odd approach to remove the game specific element, but we operate in a world where many coaches have differing philosophies, so we want the programme to suit everyone.

Once we’ve got a prototype we’ll send it out to our sample group who will put it through its paces and generate sample data, which we can use either to further develop the drill or take it into a validation study. We do these internally or with partner universities and coaches.

What data is available to coaches/players after completing the drills?
The system generates a Rezzil Index score instantly, it’s broken down into categories such as composure, reaction time, accuracy and so on. You can even drill down and get raw data exports with minute details such as strike points, vision scope, heart rate variation (HRV) and – in the near future – eye tracking too.

How is Rezzil used?
The Elite side is used in the same way as the academy drills in some circumstances, but more for maintenance rather than appraisal. Say you’ve got a player who’s an injury risk or in the late stages of recovery at a crucial point in the season, you might not want them on the field taking full training but you do want them challenged mentally. Rezzil can do that. No-impact challenging experiences that are football specific.

We also work at the very early stages of recovery, where players can connect with a virtual ball months before they are able to touch a real one.

We had a great case recently. One of our teams had a player who suffered a serious injury in the middle of last season. In the first week or so the team manager was replaced, so you’ve got a player who won’t kick a ball for his new manager for seven months. You want the player to recover well but you shouldn’t have to wait until they are at running phase or able to participate in light training before they can learn the new manager’s systems. Rezzil was able to have this player learning his manager’s philosophy, positioning and playing style all from a seated position.

Can clubs customise the platform?
I mentioned earlier that we are mostly non-specific when it comes to the drills – that’s true, but what we don’t publicise that much is that we also have a drill creation platform. That means coaches can log in and create position-specific, trigger-specific or possession specific tests for players. It makes it basically an infinite possibility system that can be completely customised.

Do you have any plans to expand Rezzil to other sports?
Absolutely, there are plenty of sports in the pipeline for the future – I can’t say what right now but they’re coming!

What else would you like people to know?
Rezzil might seem exclusive at the moment – limited to elite players and clubs. But that’s not always going to be the case. Not long from now, you’ll be able to use Rezzil to train at home like a pro. We’re bringing some of the tools from the Elite package to everyone – it’s going to be amazing!

What is Rezzil?

Rezzil builds resilience in the athlete when it is needed most: during the last minutes of a high-pressure game.

Academy – A unique set of virtual drills to test players’ cognitive abilities. Designed to analyse, benchmark, educate and improve any player.

Elite – A suite of post-match analysis tools enabling players to replay a match from any position to improve decision making on the pitch.

Recovery – Analyse and record your team’s physical properties, then track recovery against their benchmark and make return-to-play decisions with more confidence.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
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features

Fit Tech People: Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil

Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position

Published in Fit Tech 2021 issue 1

What is Rezzil?
Rezzil is a market leading VR training and cognitive development tool for elite football and is already installed at world leading football clubs.

We’re in daily use by elite players aiming to improve cognitive fitness. We’re gradually making the platform more accessible – starting with academies and grassroots clubs then finally ending up on the PlayStation or Oculus Quest in your living room!

What’s your background?
I’ve worked in sport for over 10 years now, doing a wide range of roles related to data, analysis and performance. My career and knowledge took a real boost whilst working with Manchester City FC under Pellegrini’s win in 2014. I learned so much about working with teams at that level. After leaving Man City I worked as a consultant at various other teams across the EFL and Premier League, during which time I met my co-founders Adam and Gareth.

How did you develop Rezzil?
Adam and Gareth were working on a piece of VR technology for fan experiences. It was such a cool idea and so well executed, but I saw it had a much wider application in performance rather than just for fans.
Over the years we’ve worked together to perfect that experience and add meaningful data layers underneath that generate useful information that teams and players can use to improve their performance.

Underneath it all is a data capture system and algorithm that reads physical signs from a player’s performance and computes that information to turn it into something that’s readable for humans. It’s a small step behind AI – another area of development for us – where the machine itself is appraising what you do.

How did you develop the drills?
Any drill is always grounded in solid research. For example, for one of the drills, we looked at papers on subjects such as perceptual and exploratory activity or ‘scanning behaviour and real-time processing’ in game.

We then create a way to test a player’s capacity for this without needing to use game-specific events. It might seem an odd approach to remove the game specific element, but we operate in a world where many coaches have differing philosophies, so we want the programme to suit everyone.

Once we’ve got a prototype we’ll send it out to our sample group who will put it through its paces and generate sample data, which we can use either to further develop the drill or take it into a validation study. We do these internally or with partner universities and coaches.

What data is available to coaches/players after completing the drills?
The system generates a Rezzil Index score instantly, it’s broken down into categories such as composure, reaction time, accuracy and so on. You can even drill down and get raw data exports with minute details such as strike points, vision scope, heart rate variation (HRV) and – in the near future – eye tracking too.

How is Rezzil used?
The Elite side is used in the same way as the academy drills in some circumstances, but more for maintenance rather than appraisal. Say you’ve got a player who’s an injury risk or in the late stages of recovery at a crucial point in the season, you might not want them on the field taking full training but you do want them challenged mentally. Rezzil can do that. No-impact challenging experiences that are football specific.

We also work at the very early stages of recovery, where players can connect with a virtual ball months before they are able to touch a real one.

We had a great case recently. One of our teams had a player who suffered a serious injury in the middle of last season. In the first week or so the team manager was replaced, so you’ve got a player who won’t kick a ball for his new manager for seven months. You want the player to recover well but you shouldn’t have to wait until they are at running phase or able to participate in light training before they can learn the new manager’s systems. Rezzil was able to have this player learning his manager’s philosophy, positioning and playing style all from a seated position.

Can clubs customise the platform?
I mentioned earlier that we are mostly non-specific when it comes to the drills – that’s true, but what we don’t publicise that much is that we also have a drill creation platform. That means coaches can log in and create position-specific, trigger-specific or possession specific tests for players. It makes it basically an infinite possibility system that can be completely customised.

Do you have any plans to expand Rezzil to other sports?
Absolutely, there are plenty of sports in the pipeline for the future – I can’t say what right now but they’re coming!

What else would you like people to know?
Rezzil might seem exclusive at the moment – limited to elite players and clubs. But that’s not always going to be the case. Not long from now, you’ll be able to use Rezzil to train at home like a pro. We’re bringing some of the tools from the Elite package to everyone – it’s going to be amazing!

What is Rezzil?

Rezzil builds resilience in the athlete when it is needed most: during the last minutes of a high-pressure game.

Academy – A unique set of virtual drills to test players’ cognitive abilities. Designed to analyse, benchmark, educate and improve any player.

Elite – A suite of post-match analysis tools enabling players to replay a match from any position to improve decision making on the pitch.

Recovery – Analyse and record your team’s physical properties, then track recovery against their benchmark and make return-to-play decisions with more confidence.

Sign up here to get Fit Tech's weekly ezine and every issue of Fit Tech magazine free on digital.
Gallery
More features

Funxtion: A brand new app

FunXtion and GoodLife Fitness are collaborating to help Canadians stay fit in the gym and at home

Digital retention top performers

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interview

Preston Lewis, Black Box VR

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people

Devi Mahadevia

Facebook director of sports and fitness partnerships
With Facebook paid online events, publishers can charge viewers to attend a video livestream on their Facebook pages or a third party video service

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Feelings of pressure, isolation and performance anxiety are commonly experienced by athletes, however it isn’t always easy for clubs to identify those who are struggling. Richard Lucas, founder of GoVox, explains how technology can help
interview

Robotic muscles

We identified the need to step beyond the current approaches to muscle weakness, and move instead to placing robotic muscles exactly where they’re needed – inside the body

Clubs without walls

Venueserve Fitness is working with the Health Club Collection to drive its digital customer engagement
people

Kevin Dawidowicz

President, CoachMePlus
Fitness apps are designed to train clients, without a trainer on the other side. We give coaches a tool for connection

Collect wind power as you move

Researchers in China have designed a tiny device that can scavenge wind energy from the breeze you make when you walk or run
Editor's letter

Big (fit) tech

We’re entering the age of the wellness mega-corp, with the ultimate goal for investors being to dominate health and wellness markets in every channel. Prepare to expect the unexpected in this convergence of health, fitness and wellness

Staying sticky

Bob Lawson explains how digital fitness platforms and apps can maximise retention and prevent churn
people

Andy Etches

Founder and sports director, Rezzil
Rezzil was able to have an injured player learning his new manager's philosophy, positioning and playing style – all from a seated position
Premier Software Solutions
Premier Software Solutions