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.

Pro Shot Shooting System [Basketball Training Review]

Recommendation
After over a decade of trying different ways to shoot, reading tips, training with different devices, the Pro Shot Shooting System is the only thing I recommend for experienced shooters (not necessarily great ones, just those who are more mature / set in mechanics and in their playing). It is completely free and resulted in clear results for me, not only in practice, but in games. You can watch the following two videos to learn more as well:


Background
I have been studying shooting in efforts to shoot better on a more consistent level for well over the last decade. Luckily, the Internet has made more of this information accessible. Unluckily, much of the information is opinion and as I would try things, I could not tell what was working.

I have tried numerous devices over the years, all with arguable effect. Overall, I never found anything truly worthwhile until I started reading 10 Shooting Lies on FocusedShooter.com. (Ignore the visual mess of the website) What I really like about the Lies article is that Paul Hoover, the author, does not simply state his opinion. He shows video footage of NBA players (good ones) doing all the things that he discussed. Thus, when one lie is staying square to the basket, he shows how no one actually does this. Same thing for jumping straight up and down during the shooting motion (everyone sweeps their feet).

In addition, practicing the Pro Shot Shooting System does not require any new devices or purchase. You can download a 150 page PDF file (you can read it very quickly to understand what needs to be done) for free.

Once I read the article, and started trying these tips, I immediately (within one session) could see more consistent strength and accuracy on shots. Unlike any training device I have tried, it is indisputable that I am better when I practice under the System. It does not require any training devices, and when I notice myself out of form, I read the PDF again to make sure I have all the key tips in my mind as I shoot and I find that I can quickly rediscover the right form. However, two things I still cannot do are shoot with one finger (like Kobe Bryant) and focus on the ball’s flight path while shooting.

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

How to Shoot Like Klay Thompson of the Warriors [Sports Illustrated]

Want to shoot like Klay Thompson (or Stephen Curry) of the Warriors? Some tips from Klay to show you how, courtesy of Sports Illustrated. (You can also see Klay in slow-motion to study his form above)

[Edit: Oct 7th, 2015: Another option is to buy the ShotTracker, the shot tracking device Thompson endorses]

Every time Thompson shoots, he envisions water going from his toes all the way up to his fingertips. “It’s something my dad taught me when I was young,” he says. “Explode from your feet and try to have a fluid motion all the way to your follow-through.”

…elbow in (A), toes pointing toward the basket (B), ball released from forehead height, just to the right of the temple (C). After release, Thompson pretends he’s reaching up and into a cookie jar, an age-old way to ensure good follow-through (D).

Shot Class: Klay Thompson's ABCs of Swish

I also read something from Working at the Ballpark that added insight. In it, a baseball batting coach mentions how in batting or shooting a basketball you have to be in a loaded position. In baseball, that means you go backwards and then spring forward with your swing to launch the ball – you do not simply attack the ball. He mentioned this for basketball as well, and that makes a lot of sense when you watch Klay Thompson. When you watch him shoot, he doesn’t bring the ball up and then launch, he actually pulls the ball back towards his head and then launches it forward, like a catapult.

For the full article, see: Shot Class: Klay Thompson’s ABCs of Swish