IIf excessive hours spent playing football made you a better footballer, my career as a five would have ended with a full trophy cabinet, rather than a string of double-digit losing margins.
Whereas Sensible Football, PES, Fifa and the long forgotten News Football gave me an encyclopedic knowledge of 90s footballers (or their misspelled, unlicensed cousins), they objectively failed to elevate my performance on the pitch beyond disaster.
But be your best box. Or at least that’s the pitch which means players like Arsenal, Levante, FC Kobenhavn, Racing Club Genk and FC Groningen all have their logos on the official website.
Oculus Quest software simulates match situations to try and improve the mental side of the game from the comfort of your own living room. You can even play it sitting down if you want – or if you’re nursing two broken legs that will keep you out of action for the season.
“We find a lot of professional players who are injured and can’t do anything physically come to us and want to train with that,” says Daniel Whitehouse, be your bestMarketing Manager. “Pretending to still be on a pitch: it keeps the mind sharp.”
It’s about improving digitization – which, in the jargon of Soccer Coach 22 would likely mix the Vision, Anticipation, and Focus numbers into one amorphous mega stat. It’s, Whitehouse jokes, “a fancy word for checking your shoulder.”
be your bestThe co-founder of, Geir Jordet, is a professor of sports psychology who has studied the art of scanning since the late 1990s. Indeed, if you are a football Twitter reader, you may have seen his viral thread outlining the main conclusions of his research.
“What he discovered was that the best players in the world seemed to have a knack for constantly looking away from the ball,” Whitehouse explains. “They are still scanning the terrain and the surrounding area. And he found that the more a player does that, the more likely they are to land a forward pass.
– Be Your Best (@BeYourBest_pro) May 9, 2022
Basically, it’s a discipline that can be taught, and that’s what be your best aims to do. “The best time to scan is anytime the ball is moving and the motion is set,” says Whitehouse. The best players use that moment – when the ball’s trajectory isn’t changing – to look around them and get a snapshot of their surroundings to inform their decision-making. “Every time a player touches the ball, your eyes need to be fixed on it again, because that’s when the ball can move and change direction.”
Some of the best players in the world are masters of this, especially visionary midfielders. Kevin De Bruyne is a modern player whom Whitehouse cites as particularly good at sweeping, but research points to former Barcelona playmaker Xavi as a GOAT.
Indeed, Xavi explained in an interview that his scan goes so far as to analyze the chairs and tables in a room to find the best place. In particular, in the same interview, he extols the virtues of Tetris as a game of awareness, planning and timing. “The preparation for Tetris it’s the same in football,” he said. “It’s essential.”
As a more prolific player than a footballer, this gave me false hope, but the actual experience of using the free version be your best the trial was humiliating.
You are thrown onto a life-size pitch in the middle of a match in a sparsely packed stadium and confronted with a series of key moments. At some point in each, you’ll be passed the ball and it’s up to you – based on your quick scan of the environment, tracked and scored by the software – to make a decision that leads to a goal (or minus a sniff at a goal).
You are not only graded on the results, beware: the results can bring luck. Because it’s built for Oculus Quest, head tracking lets the software know when you’re looking at the ball and when you’re not, letting the game judge you on frequency and timing to give you something on what to support you.
Even though the movement and footwork are automatic and semi-automated, respectively, I found plenty of times where I was taken over because I was either freaking out or just not thinking fast enough. It’s a disheartening reminder that while fitness and ball skills were an issue in my non-footballing career, they were far from the only unlikely bars on entry.
To be clear, it’s not far Fifa, and not just because it reproduces only tiny fractions of the game. The player models are basic, and their stiff movements could be from a PS2-era football game that makes teammates easier to read than real, living, breathing humans – especially if said humans have dozens of international caps and a Champions League medal in the shed. Models here either pass or don’t: there’s no subtle body language to read what they can or can’t do next, and certainly no dummies or shimmies.
It’s partly the limitations of the Oculus Quest and partly the realities of a small team working on a niche product. Still, the game will soon take advantage of player motion capture to recreate some of these intricacies. “I think those subtleties are important in a football game,” Whitehouse says. “When the purpose of sweeping is to look between the touches, it should be obvious when he has touched and when he hasn’t touched the ball.”
It’s also important from a gamification point of view, he adds, but is there a risk that professionals and clubs see it as a toy, rather than serious training technology?
“We’re not trying to replace the regular lineup – there’s no replacement for that, obviously,” says Whitehouse. “The best way to improve as a player is to get great coaching on the pitch. But it’s a solution if you want to get that extra few percent.
In a game with such thin margins, those extra percentage points can make all the difference, and anything that can offer even the promise of such things should be gold dust for clubs, even if it eventually falls flat.
Whitehouse says teams in Scandinavia and Germany tend to be particularly open to such solutions, but everyone is looking for the next “Moneyball” innovation that can give them the edge. I’ve previously interviewed pro-level cryotherapy and wearables evangelists as part of the beautiful game.
It’s different, however, partly because it focuses exclusively on the mental side of the game and partly because of the relatively low cost of entry. In theory, just a £300 Oculus Quest and time is all that’s stopping you from stepping your game up a few notches.
It even rubbed off on Whitehouse himself. “Since I started working for be your best, digitization is something I constantly think about,” he says. “I still play for my team here in London: sometimes I find myself playing and I’m like ‘damn, I forgot to scan this, I need to do this more!'”
I doubt he would have single-handedly got more points on the board for my now-defunct five-man side, but we might have been able to maintain our seasonal goal difference in double digits. For talented players, the rewards could be even greater.
If you want to see how you’re doing on the pitch, check out be your best here.