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)

Choose Your Own Adventure: Should I Watch The Expendables 3? [Movies, Reviews]

Imagine this:

Barney (Sylvester Stallone) is looking to recruit some young blood to his Expendables team at a nightclub with a friend. He finds Luna (Ronda Rousey, super duper MMA UFC Fighter), an attractive hostess who also turns out to be the nightclub’s bouncer.

Ronda Rousey in The Expendables 3

After watching her take care of some douchebags (with heels on), Barney decides, this woman is perfect to bring with me into armed conflict in a third world nation as a soldier in my guerilla crew.

As an audience member, do you think:

1) Wow, this is terrible. I can’t watch this, this is way way way beyond believability. Over over-the-top silliness.

2) Ronda Rousey kicking butt!? AWESOME. That is all I need to know.

Your response above is all you need to know.

My thoughts: 6/10. The worst of the Expendables films, but still very watchable. Over over over over-the-top action, silly plot. More old action heroes, with a mix of youth (like Rousey) to create some predictable team friction and then cohesiveness (spoiler?). If there’s anything bad from having too many names you recognize on the roster, it’s that no one does anything particularly impressive, there just isn’t enough screen time for anyone not named Stallone. (Side note: the way this movie is cut, it feels like it was filmed 2-3 seconds at a time, where an actor would say one quick line, then “CUT!”, and so on for 2 hours of movie. I wonder if actors really enjoy filming this way.)