Sports Tech

Sharpen your skills with the Wilson X Connected ball

Hit the hoop with the Wilson X Connected basketball, and hit the ground too or the shot won't be counted.
Hit the hoop with the Wilson X Connected basketball, and hit the ground too or the shot won't be counted.PHOTO: WILSON

This basketball puts you in the mood to become an NBA star

In my school days, I was able to score a high percentage of jumpers during basketball matches with friends. Not so now. The muscle memory seems to have gone. Or rather, the muscles are gone.

Enter the Wilson X Connected Basketball to help me regain my scoring touch and my quest to be half a Stephen Curry.

It looks like any standard-size basketball, with the only giveaway being the Bluetooth logo. It has a chip inside that tracks how many shots you make or miss, as well as the areas on court where you are most efficient.

To set it up, you need a standard 10ft-tall (3.05m) basketball hoop, a nice and tight net, and a solid backboard. To pair the ball with the Wilson X app (available for Android and iOS), throw the ball up such that it reaches the height of the hoop and let it hit the ground.

In fact, you need to calibrate it like that each time you start a session.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: US$199.99 (S$269), available on amazon.com

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 600g

  • RATING

  • DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

There are four game sessions available, namely Free Range, Free Throw, Buzzer Beater and Game Time. You need to have your smartphone with you and don wired earphones to listen to the audio from the app. So wearing a smartphone armband is a good idea.

Wired earphones or headphones are needed because Bluetooth ones will hamper the smart basketball's connection with the app.

Free Range lets you shoot from anywhere without time restrictions. Free Throw, as its name implies, means that you shoot from the free throw line.

Buzzer Beater gives you 30sec to make a shot. If you score, 5sec is added to the timer for the next shot.

Game Time is a fun mode that simulates the final two minutes of a game, complete with free throw opportunities if you are fouled. I find this mode to be lots of fun, as it breaks up the monotony of just making shots.

But I still prefer the Free Range mode. It allows me to practise my jumpers and three-point shots in my own time. I can see my field goal (FG) percentage score at the end of each session with the app. It also breaks down my FG percentage into areas of the court, which lets me know where I am least (or most) efficient in scoring. Not to mention, I finally know how well I am shooting.

However, it does have shortcomings. The ball must hit the ground after every shot in order for the shot - or miss - to be counted. There are times when I picked up the ball before it hit the ground and lost a shot count.

In addition, shots must be taken at least 2.1m from the hoop. It also doesn't read passes, dribbles, layups and dunks (not that I can do a dunk).

There is no option on the app to shoot videos. Thus, you cannot see if your shooting technique is correct or not.

On the plus side, there is no need to charge the Bluetooth sensor. Wilson claims that the battery will last 100,000 shots - longer than the time it takes to wear out the basketball.

I certainly hope that's the case. If not, you will end up with an expensive $270 non-smart basketball.

• Verdict: The Wilson X Connected Basketball is expensive, but it is a great tool for anyone who seeks to improve their shooting skills with real time feedback.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 04, 2016, with the headline 'Sharpen your skills with the Wilson X Connected ball'. Print Edition | Subscribe