The ball, $199, and the accompanying app, tracks shots made and missed shots in real-time; features a number of games to improve shooting skills with a focus on clutch situations; and also includes motivational sound bites.
“We wanted this ball to be different than anything available to players and basketball enthusiasts today,” said Bob Thurman, head of Wilson Labs, the innovation hub at Wilson, which is owned by Amer Sports. “By combining today’s best sensor technology, our highest quality basketball construction and the feedback of thousands of youth athletes and coaches, this experience was born.”
Developed in partnership with SportIQ, a sports technology and analytics company, the Wilson X Connected Basketball features a small sensor embedded in the ball that connects to an app on a player’s phone; no cords or other attachments are needed. Through Wilson’s proprietary Make/Miss Technology, the ball knows when a player makes or misses a shot, and it tracks every shot that player takes so they can see how their personal shooting performance changes over time.
Stats tabulated include shots taken, shots made, two-pointers, three- pointers, and free throws, and users can share the stats with friends or family, via social media, or with their coach. Special badges can be unlocked when a player hits milestones and celebrates shooting streaks.
The Wilson X app features four modes that focus on pure shooting drills and game-like experiences, like Buzzer Beater, that challenge a player under game-winning countdown pressure. The performance data is delivered to the player’s smart phone or tablet in real time.
Eliminating players from “gaming” the score, short shots inside seven feet from the hoop are not tracked.
Finally, the ball includes feedback to inspire the player. A press release states “a rich audio experience surrounds him/her so he/she always knows how they’re doing, and full crowd noise and sports commentator observations bring the ‘in-game’ simulations to life.”
The ball, available in official (29.5 inches) and intermediate (28.5 inches.) sizes, works on any indoor and outdoor surface – from the gym to the driveway – with a 10 foot regulation hoop and net. The ball never needs charging, as the sensor has been designed to track every shot up to approximately 100,000 shots (equating to approximately 300 shots a day, seven days a week for 52 weeks).
“I can only imagine how much better I would have gotten with this,” said Chauncey Billups, the five-time NBA All Star guard who now plays for the Los Angeles Clippers. “I grew up thinking you spend 4, 5, 6 hours in the gym. You’re working hard. I started to understand as I got older there’s a difference between working hard and working smart. This allows you the opportunity to work smart.”
“The best aspect of the ball is the sensor is inside the ball,” added Coach Denzel Washington of the 5 Star Basketball Camp. “There’s nothing that you have to wear, there’s nothing you have to put on the hoop. You just get to shoot the ball.”
Said Curly Boo Johnson, former Harlem Globetrotter and head coach of skills for Life Basketball Academy, “If you’re serious about your basketball game, this is the basketball for you.”
The Wilson X Connected Basketball will be sold at wilson.com/X, and via select online retail partners during the holiday season.