Baden SkilCoach Heavy Trainer Rubber Basketball [Review]

Baden Ball

Recommendation

The Baden SkilCoach Heavy Trainer Rubber Basketball is not worth purchasing. From my experience, the rubber surface tore up my fingertips to the point of bleeding, and I could not see any marked improvement in shooting range from shooting the ball. If I were to try a heavy basketball again, I might try one of Spalding’s weighted balls with a composite cover that would cause less pressured friction on my finger tips.

Background

The Baden Heavy Basketball has a sharp rubber surface and my problems with it remind me of when the NBA tried to stop using leather balls several years ago and players complained how their fingers got cut using the ball. Using the 29.5 inch, 40-44 oz (3.5 pounds) ball, I developed blisters and had to stop shooting for weeks at a time. Later, these blisters tore up when I used the ball again, and fingers would bleed with use.

Despite this, my extensive time training with the ball never resulted in any improvements in my shooting range. It’s definitely much heavier than a normal basketball. During shots outside a few feet, I would airball most of the time, and this was on a slightly low court (rim 9.5 feet high).

(Note: I initially reviewed the Baden basketball nearly 4 years ago. I am revisiting the review and condensing it for easier consumption in this new article as well as reviewing what I wrote, removing biases with hindsight. For more of my basketball training product reviews, click here)

Shooting Strap Basketball Shooting Aid [Review]

Shooting Strap
Recommendation
The Shooting Strap Basketball Shooting Aid is not worth purchasing. From my experience, I found my left “ball placement” hand constantly fighting to help push the ball. Restraining that hand back for extensive periods of time did not train my left hand to stop doing it.

Several years later with hindsight, I found that the best method for improving my shot, and reducing the tendency for my left, non-shooting hand to affect my shot was by practicing the Pro Shot Shooting System featured on FocusedShooter.com. (The tips are free through a downloadable PDF)

Background
The Shooting Strap’s promise is to prevent you from shooting with two hands, which can be a bad habit formed in youth because it’s easier to add strength when the off-hand helps push the ball. The Strap is made (and aggressively shown to be made) in the USA, which after you look at it, you’ll be saying “It better be, because there is no way this costs more than a $1 to make.” It’s a simple polyester (I think) strap that ties your thumb so it can’t move. It works as long as you tighten it properly. I had to tighten the Strap so tight that it held my thumb (I am also double jointed) almost in reverse because I found that the thumb, even if given a little bit of room, would try to come out and push. After weeks of working with the Shooting Strap, however, I found no real decline in my left hand not making a push.

(Note: I initially reviewed Jay Wolf’s Basketball Shooting Strap nearly 4 years ago. I am revisiting the review and condensing it for easier consumption in this new article as well as reviewing what I wrote, removing biases with hindsight. For more of my basketball training product reviews, click here)

Shotloc Basketball Shooting Aid [Review]

Recommendation
The Shotloc, whether direct from Shotloc or SKLZ, is not worth purchasing. From my experience, I am not convinced that its spreading of fingers and putting space on the palm really had any positive long term “muscle memory” effect on my shooting. The product is not expensive at under $20, however, and if you feel you have very strong difficulty spreading your fingers or are helping a young child learn to shoot for the first time, I could see Shotloc helping.

Background
The Shotloc does a great job of making sure you follow-through on your shot. You basically have to because you can’t shoot unevenly with it on, it forces all of your fingers to fold together. If anything, using the Shotloc forces finger strength because to get a shot off, you have to push off with your fingertips. This makes the ball feel a little bit loose to me, and when you shoot from longer distance you really have to accelerate the spin on the ball coming off your fingertips to generate power.

So, while shooting with the Shotloc seems to create good habits, I could not see any real changes to my form and results after extensive training with it, and then playing without it. For more evidence and research into Shotloc’s effectiveness, see this research paper from the Sport Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Manitoba, “The effectiveness of the ShotLoc training tool on basketball free throw performance and technique.

(Note: I initially reviewed the Shotloc nearly 4 years ago. I am revisiting the review and condensing it for easier consumption in this new article as well as reviewing what I wrote, removing biases with hindsight. For more of my basketball training product reviews, click here)

Unique Sports Dribble Specs [Basketball Training Review]

Unique Sports Dribble SpecsRecommendation
The Unique Sports Dribble Specs is worth purchasing. For less than $10, you get an easy to use device that, while unfashionable to wear, makes sure you cannot look at the ball while dribbling. From my experience, this is great for removing your dependency on looking at the ball, and is especially helpful for simulating game time situations.

Background
The Unique Dribble Specs is not specs at all. The black plastic pieces simply block your lower vertical vision so you can’t see the ball. Nonetheless, the Unique Dribble Specs work as intended – they are easy to use and do not cause injuries. I think they’re great to help with a dribble workout. They do, however, hold your sweat from your eyes, so when you take them off, all your collected sweat will drip down on your face when you remove it. Sweat burn in the eyes…

(Note: I initially reviewed the Dribble Specs nearly 4 years ago. I am revisiting the review and condensing it for easier consumption in this new article as well as reviewing what I wrote, removing biases with hindsight. For more of my basketball training product reviews, click here)

Star Wars Prequel Trilogy [L8wrtr Fan Edits, REVIEW]

Star Wars - Episode I: Shadow of the SithStar Wars - Episode II: The Republic DividedStar Wars - Episode III: Dawn of the Empire

I have no real love for the prequel trilogy, as discussed in the past. However, with Episode VII coming out in December and Ha having never seen the prequels, I wanted to find tolerable versions of the films that I could watch alongside her.

Enter the Fan Edits! In the past, I have seen the Phantom Edit, Mike Nichols’ edit of The Phantom Menace. However, he never released Episode III nor did HD versions of his edits, so I looked for a complete series in HD. After some research on Internet Fan Edit Database, I decided to check out l8wrtr’s set. The three edits are generally well regarded, receiving 8.9 / 9.0 /9.3 out of 10 from the community with at least 26 votes for each.

Having not seen the any of the prequels in, likely, at least 5 years, my memory wasn’t battling, trying to remember things that were taken out or adjusted.

My thoughts:

  1. They are all quite good. I kind of feel Episode 1 (renamed Shadow of the Sith) is a bit short, but as I discussed about the Phantom Edit 7 years ago, if you do not have additional content to work with, as the real director would, it can be difficult. The pace in Episode 1 is particularly quick; it feels like you’re going from intense scene to intense scene with no time to relax. This is true across all the episodes, however. E I and II are each 96 minutes, while E III is 112.
  2. Try to watch them without seeing what is removed or changed. After watching Episode I, I looked through the notes to understand the changes. This was a bad idea as it reminded me of all the negatives I hated. It’s better to enjoy these as the true versions and not know what else is out there (as Ha now does).
  3. They are rewatchable. In fact, I am fairly certain I will be using these as my definitive versions of the movies if I ever want to watch the prequels again.

I realize this isn’t quite a detailed review of what makes the edits good or not good, but it is hard to have such a discussion without spoilers. I think you are better off just watching them for yourself, assuming you are like me and find it difficult to watch George Lucas’ versions. Highly recommended.