I dreamt of being a professional footballer when I was a kid (hey, we all have dreamy aspirations when we were young).
I remember being quite the player too - I could defend, run and hit crosses. My weakness was with my rather feeble kicks. But if I had something like the adidas miCoach Smart Ball back then, it could have been a different story.
This ball looks and works like any standard size-5 football used in Barclays Premier League or international matches. But it has a sensor planted smack in the middle of the ball's inside, with 12 impact-absorbing protective arms.
It even comes with a futuristic wireless charging dock. Each full charge is supposed to last 2,000 kicks, or around a week when the sensor is on standby mode.
Before using it for the first time, put the ball on the dock to charge and pair it with the adidas miCoach Smart Ball app (Android and iOS). Subsequently, it will be automatically paired whenever you start the app.
PRICE: US$189.99 ($256), available at amazon.com
VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5
The ball has some shortcomings. First, you can kick it only from a stationary position. This means it does not record passes, or kicks when you are dribbling with the ball. Plus, the ball in flight must be at least 1m from the ground and travel for at least 9m for its data to be captured.
There are five kicks that you can do - Ball Striking, Striking with Power, Bending around the Wall, Bending over the Wall and Knuckle Ball (football fans will know that the last kick is Cristiano Ronaldo's no-spin kick).
Select a kick, make sure the ball is connected to the app, tap "Kick it" on the app, and you are all set for your kick to be captured.
Before each kick, you can tap on tips and even a tutorial video of how the kick should be made. The video will stop at crucial moments to highlight the technique and sweet spot to hit.
The ball does not have any built-in memory to store the captured data. And the app remembers only your best power, spin and knuckle kicks.
After each kick, you have to wait for the data to be transmitted to the app, then tap on Favourite to save it. If not, the kick's information is gone.
The captured data is presented in the form of a graphic that shows the spot where the ball is kicked, as well as the ball's flight path (how much bend and height) and the Coach Notes.
I found the Coach Notes useful. Depending on the results of a kick, it will provide tips, such as locking your ankle with toes pointed towards the sky throughout the kick, to help you kick better. Knowing which spot the ball is kicked helps to ensure you change and hit the sweet spot the next time.
There are also two challenge modes. You can challenge a friend to see how fast you can kick the ball, or compare your kicks with those of a professional.
The app also has tips and tutorial videos, even for ball skills. But the ball does not track these skills, such as stepovers or outside roll.
However, you can ask someone to record a video of your kicks to make sure you are kicking the right spot on the ball, or if your technique is correct.
• Verdict: The adidas miCoach Smart Ball might be expensive, but I found myself improving my technique in increasing shooting power within an hour of using it.