Fitness trackers and connected gadgets for sports such as golf, cycling and tennis are a dime a dozen these days. Basketball has been slow in joining the party, but this is quickly changing. Now there is a healthy range of products that are leveraging the powers of technology to help you improve your skills on the court.
Essential reading: Compare sports trackers with our interactive tool
The NBA currently does not allow the use of wearable technology during official games. This is in contrast to the MLB which has approved a number of devices for use during games. Nevertheless, when training, professional basketball teams are using hi-tech body-monitoring devices to track workloads and movement in the name of injury prevention.
Luckily, you don’t need to wait NBA’s approval to jump onto the wearables bandwagon. Unless you’re a pro, of course. What follows is connected basketball tech you can use right now.
You would not realise there is anything different about this ball just by looking at it. It is regulation size and weight with Wilson quality grip and durability. There are two sizes to choose from: official (29.5 inches) or intermediate (28.5 inches). The ball has no wires, add-ons to attach to the hoop or wearables to strap on your wrist.
Below the surface the gizmo contains a Bluetooth radio, low-power processor, and three-axis accelerometer, which with the help of some cleverly crafted algorithms track your baskets. Wilson says its algorithms are 98% accurate on makes and misses.
Although you can use it in a game, the ball is primarily designed to track a single player’s shots. After all, no matter how clever, the basketball can’t tell when it has changed possession. This is why Wilson recommends to use the ball and app during solo training.
After your session, open up the accompanying smartphone app for charts and graphs on your shooting statistics. This includes everything from shooting percentages and shot attempts to total time in play.
And don’t worry about re-charging. The battery runs strong for over 100,000 shots – that’s 300 shots a day, every day for a year. After that you can continue on using it as a regular ball, or perhaps trade it in.
Another connected basketball comes from an outfit called InfoMotion Sports Technologies. 94fifty is the official Smart Basketball of the National Association of Basketball Coaches.
This regulation size, weight, spin and bounce ball comes with a Qi wireless charger. It also includes a custom-made bag to carry the ball in.
Inside the basketball are nine accelerometers and a gyroscope, sitting on a circuit board that weighs less than 20 grams. The sensors can detect force (a 360-degree view of it) and speed, ball rotation and ball arc.
The ball runs a lightweight operating system that dissects patterns in motion and can communicate anomalies in less than 100 milliseconds over Bluetooth. You will get instant feedback on every shot and dribble.
94fifty tracks four important metrics: dribble force/speed, shot speed, shot backspin and shot arc. You can choose to work on various skills, or compete head to head against other players through up to 34 different challenges.
This is a basketball you will need to recharge from time to time. But once you do, it will be good for up to 8 hours.
One of only three connected basketballs on the market, DribbleUP differs in that it does not contain a battery or any high tech electronics inside. Instead, the system relies on the ball and your phone’s camera to track your mechanics and progress. Patented vision tracking algorithms lock onto the ball’s surface to track its location in real-time, even when its not in full sight of the camera.
Created by two young brothers from Brooklyn, the ball measures your crossover speed, dribble hesitation, endurance level and track your dribbling live with an interactive dribble speed meter. You will essentially get a virtual coach that guides you through workouts and provides expert analysis.
Just choose a workout, scan the ball and get right into it! You can select from the large library or let the app recommend one based on your skill level. There is also a 30 day training programme.
Built from premium microfiber materials, this regulation size and weight ball is extremely durable and works in all weather conditions. This is the first and only smart basketball to be used as the official game ball in high school and middle school basketball tournaments around the US.
Other connected tech
This is a tiny tracker that you clip to your waistband. The device goes well beyond basic activity tracking, and is equipped with a highly accurate 3D motion sensors to capture performance metrics and detect key events such as acceleration, rotation, and jump height – all in real-time.
With the help of your smartphone, the Smart Video Capture technology allows the Blast app to create video clips, allowing you to easily locate, replay and share your action highlights. The patented Smart Video Capture technology automatically identifies your actions and clips your videos to create a series of highlights. All this is overlaid with your metrics such as vertical height, hang-time, rotation and jump acceleration.
You can also detect key events and identify trends by viewing your movement history. The ball will store all movement data when the sensor is out of range. Everything will download to your smart phone or tablet as soon as you reconnect.
Three components make up the ShotTracker system. A wrist sensor which slides into the wristband or shooting sleeve, a sensor that attaches to the net, and the ShotTracker app. The net sensor runs on a rechargeable lithium-polymer battery and is in sleep mode until the user starts shooting.
The first link in the chain is the unit worn by the user. It is very lightweight (9.9 grams), so you hardly notice you are wearing it. The sensor is designed so that it can fit under a purpose-made wrist band or sleeve (sold separately). As the ball leaves your hand, the device sends an alert to the net sensor, which then records the shot.
The app automatically gathers data from both sensors and presents it in the form of real-time stats and shot charts. You’ll get information on every shot attempt, shot success and percentages, as well as a shot map. The app also uses the information to recommend training drills designed to help you work on your weaknesses.
This futuristic looking sleeve guides you to improve your shooting form and consistency. Just turn on SOLIDshot and pull it on. Then dribble, pass, and play just like you normally would.
Using multiple sensors on a player’s shooting arm, the device constantly analyzes motion, recognizes shots, and gives instant feedback the moment the ball leaves the player’s hands. It looks at over 50 metrics of your shot. The data is gathered from three sensors: one on a player’s bicep, another on their forearm and the third one on the hand.
Essentially, this is equivalent to a 120 fps high-speed motion capture system. Four independent computers coordinate hundreds of times per second to analyze your motion in real-time.
Instant feedback helps you build muscle memory. Audio and visual cues on the sleeve let you know exactly what you need to work on. For more detailed insight into your shooting technique, head over to the accompanying app.
VERT is an innovative device addressing a rather unique niche market – the wearable tracks and shares real-time stats on your jumps.
This includes vertical height, average height, highest vertical and total jumps during a game. You can use this little gadget for any sport that involves jumping such as basketball, volleyball, hurdle jumping, and martial arts. Or use it to monitor jump rope exercises and warm ups or to compete amongst your friends.
The wearable is designed to be strapped around your waist or chest, similar to a heart-rate monitor. It can be attached either via the VERTclip or integrated within an article of clothing.
The information is stored and can be accessed through a smartphone app or web dashboard. Also, at any point in practice or during the game, you can hold down a button on the side of the device and it will provide you with statistics on your jumps up to that point.
You can also opt for VERT more sophisticated cousin G-VERT. This one tracks and shares more detailed real-time stats including G-force, kinetic energy, jump analytics, power, stress % and appendage asymmetry.
A number of years in the aking, Hoop Tracker promises to be one of the most complete solutions out there. Simply attach the smartwatch to your non-shooting hand, secure the shot detector on the rim with the mounting pole, select your shooting program, and you’re ready to go.
The system tracks pretty much everything under the sun. The watch will spit out your court location and shooting statistics from that particular location in real time. For post-session analysis, head over to the accompanying smartphone app. This goes into much more detail and shows your shooting performance, progress over time, strengths and weaknesses and much more. There is also a coaching mode which promises to take your game up a notch, contests and challenges.
Its not available just yet, but you can pre-order on Hoop Tracker* to be first in line when it hits the market. You won’t be charged until the device actually ships.
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