The Digital Coach – AKA, The Internet Connected Basketball

A teacher recently ignited a firestorm of controversy with his essay suggesting the common sense argument that the odds are stacked against any of his students becoming a professional sports star. He pointed out that, in addition to great work ethics and genetics, professional athletes typically had great coaches growing up. As he alludes to most kids don’t have NBA fathers as coaches nor can most families afford personal coaches.

Enter InfoMotion Sports Technologies and their connected basketball, the 94Fifty® Smart Basketball. This basketball provides a player both visual and audible feedback on shooting arc, dribble intensity and speed, shot release speed and shot backspin.  When combined with their smart net, shooting accuracy can also be measured.

In the above interview, InfoMotion founder and CEO, Michael Crowley, indicates that, despite the integration of accelerometers, associated electronics and Bluetooth communications, InfoMotion’s basketball is regulation weight and size. 

This ball is the persistent digital coach, as every time an athlete picks it up, it communicates one’s ball handling and shooting techniques to an associated Android or iOS app. InfoMotion’s software interprets the data, provides immediate feedback to the player and records the data so players can see how they improve over time.

Because it is connected via smart devices, it is possible to have virtual shooting contests, where players are physically in different places, but connected via the InfoMotion software.

With a $199 list price, this basketball is much less than the cost of a personal coach and has the potential to provide personalized feedback to millions of youth athletes who otherwise never would have had such an opportunity. This basketball won’t mean any more kids will get the opportunity to become professional athletes, but it could improve the overall playing field.

[Ken’s note: the opening comment in the above video about my kids’ needing a better coach was meant to disparage my own poor coaching skills, not any of the great coaches they had through their youth. Of course, as good as a digital coach may be, it can’t yet beat what the Positive Coaching Alliance calls a “Double-Goal Coach®” (PDF) who coaches to win and teach life lessons through sports; because, after all, most of the kids won’t become professional or even college stars, but they can learn good lessons and have great memories of their time playing youth sports.]

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