ShotTracker [Basketball Trainer Review]

Recommendation

If you want simple data to track your shooting efficiency, ShotTracker delivers on that promise. However, do not expect it to track your actual shooting location (it sounds like ShotTracker’s new partnership with Spalding and Decawave will deliver that, and likely at a much more expensive price point). In addition, ShotTracker is a bit pricy ($150 retail) considering it does not track location.

Background

I have been interested in the ShotTracker since first hearing about it at the end of 2014. It promised to monitor your shooting performance via data.

The first thing I noticed is that ShotTracker cannot actually track your shooting location. Instead, it tells you what kind of shot to practice, and will track the shots made and missed. If you ignore the instructions, ShotTracker won’t know. This was a tremendous disappointment and mismatch of my expectations. Thus, if you want to freely shoot around all over the court, ShotTracker will have no idea of what areas you are in – you will only receive a summary of total makes and misses.

However, ShotTracker does provide a sizeable list of different Drills and Workouts (Sets of Drills) that you can practice. For example, if you want to shoot left and right elbow jumpers, the app will start you on one side and then your phone will beep when it’s time to switch positions. You can then get an understanding of how you did on each side. This is a decent workaround.

In terms of tracking the actual shots, ShotTracker does this well. You have two sensors to connect to your phone via Bluetooth – a net sensor and arm sensor. My feeling is that both sensors are accelerometers that register a certain level of velocity in movement. This is pretty simple technology, but it works. The net sensor only works with string nets (my feeling is that metal nets are too heavy and do not create enough movement to register when a made shot goes through the net) and is easy to attach if you have a small stool or step ladder to bring with you. For this reason, ShotTracker makes more sense for home courts than it does at public recreational parks. I live one minute’s walk away from a court, so it’s not so annoying for me to bring a small ladder, but imagine walking 10 minutes to a court. If you have a car to travel to courts, this is less of a problem. If ShotTracker wants to reach mass-market sales, this is the type of Design Thinking that is missing from the product currently. The more obstacles (including technology requirements and price) needed to use the product, the market size for the product diminishes.

Beyond that, the app is visually attractive and fairly easy to use, though I have some comments for improvements below.

Shottracker Charger and Box

Suggested Improvements and Other Notes

  • There are plenty of different drills to do, but you can only filter by position (guard, center, forward). I would like to see more filtering options. For example. I can’t shoot 3’s, so I don’t want to shoot 50 3’s. I also only shoot by myself, so it’s very difficult to shoot curls. Since there are so many drills, looking through them all and finding them one by one each time you practice is a real pain and barrier to exploring the app.
  • I would also like to create my own “playlist” of drills. This functionality is available through the free Coach’s App, which is free but only available on Android and iOS Tablets. From my experience in product UI, however, it would not be particularly tricky to allow the player to do this on mobile. From my admittedly older Samsung Android Tablet, I found the Coach’s App a bit sluggish to use.
  • You need to keep your phone unlocked while the ShotTracker app is running – if it goes into sleep / lock, ShotTracker will not be able to monitor data. The app should be more explicit about this behavior.
  • In the Player App, there are a number of features that are generally worthless and can be hidden so that there are fewer options in the navigational menu. For example, if there are no active Challenges (I would love to see at least one of these a week, even if not for prizes) or Camps, those should be hidden or put into an “Other” menu. Even the activity feed of Homecourt, showing everyone’s activity, and Players, a feature to search people, have no real use unless you want to track someone’s activity. From my perspective (but perhaps not matching that of the target demographic), these are all less-used features within the product and can be removed from direct sight.
  • I would like to better understand how good am I compared to the whole community – the app suggests this feature when you look at your Profile – there are comparative goals with people your age. However, there is no app section to enter your age in and my comparative data is blank.
  • One way to create value in Players is to help the user find players within a 5 mile radius that he could befriend, and potentially shoot with. I am guessing this is in the plans, as ShotTracker already asks for Zipcode.
  • An aspect I like about Drills is that you can watch video instruction of how to do the shots. However, I have no idea if the video is pre-installed into the app or I am using my data each time I am watching the video. It would be nice for all video to be pre-installed and I be explicitly told that no data will be used. In addition, even though all the videos feature a wide aspect ratio, I cannot rotate the phone to see the videos in their natural setting. I am forced to watch these videos in the tall / long setting on my phone, and the videos only take half the screen on my iPhone 5S.
  • For the App’s Help Section, I suggest showing a quick list of all the Question answered, with users being able to tap to see the answer to the question. The current format is Question, Answer Text, next Question, etc. This would allow me to quickly scan what information is in the App rather than scroll the entirety of the page (it’s quite long). In addition, I would add a button to quickly send a question / support comment for things that I do not see addressed. When I had questions, I had to look on the ShotTracker website for contact information. If the product itself is mobile-only, support should also be geared accordingly.
  • After using ShotTracker for over a month at an average of two hours a week, I am happy with the battery performance of the sensors – I have not needed to recharge them yet.

To read more of my basketball training product reviews, please click here.

Dribblepro Basketball Training Ball [Review]

Recommendation
The Dribblepro (or Dribble Pro) Basketball Training Ball, both from Spalding and its black and red version are worth purchasing to improve your in-game dribbling. While the ball is supposed to help your dribbling, rebounding, and shooting, I think its value is more on the dribbling side, and for under $30, the black and red version is definitely the better buy over the Spalding ball at $60.

Background
Henry Bibby, former head coach at USC and NBA assistant coach, developed the Dribblepro and sent me a ball to review in early 2015, but I only started training regularly with it recently. The ball is a regular size ball that has several rubber “stubs” – when you dribble the ball, the stubs will occasionally hit the ground and cause the ball to bounce in a random direction. This forces your hands (and eyes if you are looking) to predict where the ball will go and control it. The idea is that this unpredictably better reflects real life game situations in which you need to control the ball under intense situations.

It is hard to do an objective analysis of the effects of training (I trained a couple of hours a week for nearly 2 months) with the ball. Over my time with it, one of the stubs broke off and I felt that the ball lost much of its cover surface from use on outdoor basketball courts. However, I can still shoot and dribble with it fine. From the training, I feel that dribbling with a normal ball is much easier – since starting, I only practiced with the Dribblepro and played games with normal balls, so I can feel a clear difference when I switch. In addition, I unexpectedly have more confidence dribbling the ball during games. There have a been a few times where I was dribbling in traffic or lost control of the ball, but I knew I could get it back. Whether this has been due to actual improvement, luck, or the level of competition, I cannot say.

If you can train with both the Dribblepro and Dribble Specs to prevent yourself from looking at the ball as it careens out of control, I think that is a special combination to improving your hands and feel for high-intensity, in-game traffic situations.

To read more of my basketball training reviews, please click here.

Guarantee3 Basketball Trainer [Review]

Recommendation
Although the Guarantee3 Basketball Trainer has multiple uses, from my experience, it is not worth purchasing if your focus is on improving your shooting range. In addition, I encountered major durability issues in the product. I am guessing that my overall wrist / arm strength has improved from using the Guarantee 3 over three weeks, but I cannot see any clear improvement in how far I can shoot the ball. This is likely due to my shot mechanics, as the Pro Shooting System suggests. However, I do like it as a tool that can help improve the strength in both arms and can be used indoors without a basketball. This was particularly helpful during the recent California rain storms.

Background

The Guarantee 3 is like a belt that adds resistance to your hands and arms with resistance bands. Thus if you practice your shooting motion or dribbling with it, you can imagine how your body can become stronger this way.

I was given a Guarantee3 review sample by Kristen Lavoie at ChicExecs. I also talked to Dave Felkel, the inventor, over a phone call. Both were very nice. Dave mentioned that the dribbling use for Guarantee3 is not necessarily just for strengthening your dribble – it also gets you used to dribbling low to the ground, a bit like the Dribblepro Training Basketball.

It is also great in that you can watch TV and work out without affecting anyone (noise, furniture damage).

I never experienced muscle soreness while using the band, even though I used the shortest band to create more difficulty and did many more reps than suggested. The workout entails 30 reps increasing gradually to 60 reps. I did 150+ reps 5 days a week for 3+ weeks before the strap on the hand tore (shown below) off – I had planned to continue this for six weeks.

In addition, the bands created so much friction on my arm as to eventually cause bleeding (I wore an arm band to stop further injury).

To read more of my basketball training product reviews, please click here.