Shot-Tracking HomeCourt App Adds Training Drills With Real-Time Feedback

The basketball app HomeCourt was featured in last year’s Apple keynote because of its innovative AI technology to identify a court, a ball, and a shot using just an iPhone’s camera. The app records every shot with a series of component metrics, such as release angle, running speed, and vertical leap.

As HomeCourt’s development group NEX Team considered a holistic approach to basketball training, they realized that there were abundant resources online for individual instruction. But YouTube videos couldn’t guide practice or offer an evaluation.

That prompted HomeCourt to develop its first batch of practice drills in which the app can provide real-time audio assessments. After each session, detailed stats, ratings, and highlights are produced automatically.

“What’s missing is that feedback loop,” said Alex Wu, a NEX Team co-founder and its VP of strategy and marketing communications. “With HomeCourt Drills, we want to solve that.”

Available HomeCourt drills. (Courtesy of NEX Team)

Seven months since the app’s release, HomeCourt users have taken more than 10 million shots in 150 countries. A series of shot science metrics developed under the guidance of Hall of Fame point guard and company investor Steve Nash offered results analysis in more granular detail.

This new release, however, pivots the app from merely tracking to training. There are currently six drills to start and plans to add more, turning the app into a basketball curriculum.

“With Drills, we’re really trying to reimagine how individual training can happen digitally,” Wu said. “If you look at what our app is today, it’s kind of like a fancy ruler. It’s a great ruler—a really, really effective ruler. People who know how to use really great rulers can get a lot of value out of it, but for the rest of us, including me, sometimes when I step out on a court, I don’t know what types of drills to do or what I should be looking for to be more intentional about my practice.”

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Several members of the founding team have young children. The very idea for HomeCourt, in fact, was sprung from a pickup game when the daughter of CEO David Lee saw her father go on a long cold streak. The leadership group gave a lot of thought to how the younger generation will learn the sport of basketball and what else will compete for their time. That led to the app’s gamified aesthetics. When someone masters a level, they can unlock the next one, just as in a video game.

Wu spent a lot of his childhood in Taiwan where he received no formal basketball instruction and his high school had no team. He now resides in the Bay Area where he said it’s as easy to find a skills coach as a piano teacher. Back in Taiwan or in China, Wu said, “That profession doesn’t exist.” Even where there is a coaching infrastructure, personal instruction and travel teams are expensive. That’s the void Drills is trying to fill.

“That can be helpful for a lot of people who don’t have necessarily that support network, if you will, to guide me along,” he said. “I would say this, that’s true in America, [but] it’s even more true abroad. The basketball education network or apparatus just doesn’t really exist in the same way as the United States.”

HomeCourt in action. (Courtesy of NEX Team)

Ultimately, the app could even be used for talent identification. Soon after a recent Wall Street Journal article profiled sixth-grader Lanie Grant on her quest to take 100,000 shots this year, Wu said he was talking to a WNBA general manager who remarked how crazy it was that an 11-year-old was already on his radar. College coaches and pro evaluators could start following high achievers on HomeCourt leaderboards, tracking their progress.

“How about all the kids abroad? Maybe there’s a kid out there who’s shooting like Steph Curry, and he’s in some rural province in China. Now we might have a chance to, I wouldn’t say scout, but know that kid’s there,” Wu said, adding: “Technology has always been about bringing down those barriers.”

Read more: sporttechie.com

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