** 94fifty is having a sale of $149 for their ball . I have a $25 off $169 coupon code bball25 if anyone wants to use it so you can get a Smart Net or shirt or socks for free **
Here is part II, 12 weeks in
IF YOU CAN’T MEASURE IT, YOU CAN’T IMPROVE IT
Remember those old 80’s video tapes of pros doing dribbling drills at hyperspeed and saying that there is no way that could be real? I think the 94Fifty can prove to us that they were real if we could get a time machine and give them a ball. I’d guess they were easily hitting 200 dribbles in 20 seconds .
I had my eye on the 94Fifty basketball since it came out but I couldn’t really justify spending $300 on a basketball (However I’ll drop $500 on a new driver in an instant, what’s wrong with me). However, during black Friday during this past holiday season, 94Fifty dropped the prices on the ball to $179 SHIPPED and it came with a free tee shirt, socks or smart net as well as a carrying bag. I opted for the shirt but let’s move on.
I’ve owned the ball for nearly two months now but have only had a chance to really work with it for about 6 weeks, which in dad terms means about 4 days a week which means about 4 hours a week which is 1 hour per day. Actually time spent doing ball handling drills was about 20 minutes per day . I bought the ball primarily to improve my handles since I already have a pretty good shot and I don’t like tinkering with it when I’m shooting well. However I did use the shooting features to see how I compared to ideal stats.
First off, 94Fifty spent some serious money on the box itself and I applaud them for that.
They could have easily skimped out and put the ball in a standard Uline box, but you really feel like you’re opening something special. It comes with a charger, instructions etc. You do need to download the 94Fifty app which works on Apple and Android platforms. After that you pair the bluetooth to your phone and you’re pretty much ready to go.
Look and Feel of the Ball
The ball feels like a normal ball although I could sense some dead spots upon dribbling. I’m guessing the sensor’s placement within the ball has something to do with that. That being said, the deadspots have no effect on measurement of dribbles or shot metrics. 94Fifty and I do not recommend using this for actual game play bc a) it’s a piece of technology and technology can break when used the wrong way 2) you can’t measure your game during an actual game since everyone is shooting and dribbling the ball so that would be a waste of time.
No excess or mismatched seams shows they really are trying to put out a top quality product and not just make money .
Quality of the ball’s cover is fantastic although I found it very sticky and absorbent. The cover is not as plush or soft as a Wilson Evolution or Baden Lexum but more like that Spalding’s middle of the line balls like the ZiO balls. The weight and size of the ball is standard. I have not taken the ball outdoors since I like my stuff to look new but I think the cover will hold up well like the balls mentioned above. If you have not indoor courts nearby, I suggest finding a smooth concrete surface such as a garage to do the drills if you want the cover to last a bit longer.
I really wanted to give myself a baseline to work with so I just did all the drills in the “Workout” section of the app including shooting.
As a PG/SG, I have a pretty good handle but I started with “Playground”. I easily breezed through as well as “Prepstar” but “Collegestar” gave me fits on some of the drills which was frustrated but at the same time exactly what I needed. Dribble goal in 20 seconds for “Playground”, “Prepstar”, “Collegestar”, and “Pro” with strong and weak hands are 60, 90,130, and 150 respectively with ball control measuring 80%. 90%,95%, 97%. My max speed with each hand was surprisingly similar at around 120 to 127 but I was able to get over the hump after a few tries during the week and I was able to maintain it. Not sure if this was due to energy levels, the ball or what but I was happy to pass the hurdle. Other dribbling drills include crossover speed, behind the back, figure 8’s, V speed, and two ball speed. “Pro” adds Power into the equation for crossovers, behind the back, two ball, and V drills.
Speed is really nice to have with your handles but if you dribble fast but don’t punch it hard, you’ll still get picked by your opponent so I really really like how you can measure your dribble power and the drills that are included. If you want to just work on your power, you can just do skill training.
Takeaways the first week
1) I have fast hands and have similar dribble speeds with both hands maxing out at 132
2) My right hand’s dribble power is much lower than my left. Even when I felt like I was really pounding the ball with both hands, the right would always come up significantly weaker than the left (My strong hand) The app can calculate how hard you are pounding the ball and how well you are controlling it somehow 3) Crossover and behind the back drills were harder for me than any other drill which makes sense since rarely try to cross over players so I just need to wake up and work those muscles. I have found out through all my years that in outs work just as well as a true crossover so why bother risking a turnover over a flashy move? That and apparently my crossover speed is slow. 4) Dribbling work is extremely difficult and you’ll sweat more doing drills for 10 minutes than shooting around for 45 minutes. I was drenched and my quads were burning 5) You need to rest between sets just like you would during a normal full body workout. Your hands, wrists, and arms become fatigued after each drill as you’re really strengthening those basketball muscles. If you try to go back to the drills with less than a minute and half’s rest, you’ll have a hard time passing any of them. solution for increasing dribble power came in the form of Youtube as I searched a few channels for increasing your power. I found Ryan Goodson’s dribble drills pretty awesome and fun to do. Ryan Goodson power drill I think some additional drills could be provided by 94Fifity to help improve deficiencies as that would help players accelerate their improvement.
To remedy my crossover and behind the back, I just kept working at those drills and it really helped.
Week 2 to 4 Each week I consistently got better at each drill and was able to hit 145 to 147 on both hands which was pretty close to “Pro” level. I tried many times to pass the “Pro” weak and dominant hand drills but to no avail which is ultra frustrating but also a great motivator. I do wish there was a semi pro level bc the jump from 130 to 150 seemed like too much. I resorted back to “College star” since I could do the full array of drills and pass most of them while I could not pass any of the “Pro” level ones, not even the ones I was good at LOL.
Not all was lost during week 2 to 4 though as I was able to increase my power on my weak hand to almost the same level as my left. I can honestly say I noticed an improvement in my right hand handle during games as I was able to put more decisive power moves such as one to two dribbles from the 3 pt line to the rim much more easily during games and I could put it down with more power and not lose control of the ball.
Takeaway: I really got better and I could actually see the improvement not just guess or think I was getting better. No better way to gain confidence than to actually see it measured!!
Week 5 was Christmas time/New years and I didn’t work at all with the ball since the kids were out of school and had to visit the inlaws. I brought it with me though.
Takeaway: Bringing the ball with you and not using it does nothing for your game
Taking ten days off from dribbling drills really killed my mojo. My handle power was ok but all my speed disappeared. I could only get to 136 or so the first few days back. This makes total sense since you’re working out fast twitch muscles and if you don’t work them you lose them. Same principles apply to your speed on the court; if you stop working /sprinting, those fast twitch muscles will go away . I think the max days of skipping speed work is 2 to 3 days otherwise you lose what you gained.
Anyways, I was able to get back to 147 by the end of the week and passed my weak right hand on “Pro” level at 150 dribbles in 20 seconds!! Oddly I couldn’t do it with my left/strong hand LOL. I guess that’s a good thing although I’m still more comfortable with my left. I have yet to pass any other drill on “Pro” level though and it isn’t even close right now haha
Like I said earlier I didn’t really buy the ball to help improve my jumper but I did want to see where I stood compared to the ideal. I think need to know how I compare comes from my love for golf . I love using Trackman which is a radar based golf ball flight measurement device to optimize launch and spin (sound familiar) and this is as close as you’re going to get to it with a basketball. To measure backspin and Shot Arc, you can just shoot the ball like you normally would. This is helpful since you can measure you shot whether you’re stationary or off the dribble. I initially thought you had to backspin it to activate it but it turns you out you only have to backspin the ball or have someone pass it to you if you want to measure your shot speed. The first week or so, I couldn’t get it always work and measure my shot speed but after a software update it seemed to work fine most of the time.
The three main measurements that the 94Fifty takes is
1) Shot Speed 2) Arc 3) Backspin
You actually select the distance you are shooting from and 94Fifty gives you the ideal from that distance. Shot Speed
I thought I had a quick shot but apparently I don’t The goal is .85 to .7 seconds depending on what level you pic and I was consistently hovering around .85 to .985 or above. A quick shot is great if you’re consistent with it and it gives you more space so you’re more open. After one session I was definitely shooting it more quickly but I’m not sure if it is worth the trade off in consistency. I will continue to work on it though since a more open shot is better than a contested one.
94Fifty says the ideal is btwn 42 and 48 and I can attest that that is correct. Anything below 42 was almost always front of the rim which anything over would look like a sky ball. Obviously different shooters have different trajectories but most fall btwn 42and 48. I just practiced free throws with this measurement and low and behold I would miss the FT when I was outside the recommended range. When I would make shots, I would always be in that range. Nice research 94Fifty!
I always thought I had too much backspin since I always watch the pros shoot these low spinning jumpers that don’t seem to rotate that much but I was in the ideal from all distances.
Knowing that I decided I didn’t need to tweak my jumper.
There is also speed plus arc but I didn’t really fiddle with that since I was happy where I stood in relation to the ideal.
Without a good interface, the 94fifty would still be awesome but luckily for us created a super easy interface that is easy to navigate. There is a “coach” that tells you things such as “faster, faster”, “snap that wrist” “finish strong”. As stupid as this may sound it really does help you get those last few reps out! Sometimes you just need someone or something else to push you even if it is just a voice on an app. The voice sounds familiar to me, maybe off a basketball game that my son plays on my phone? Not sure but the voice does help push me in those last few seconds.
You can add up to 4 people onto the app so I added my son who is beginner and he loves playing with the ball and trying to break his own records.
I’ve bought DVD’s, watched Youtube, studied streetball moves to try and improve my handle and they all work for a few weeks as long as I stay motivated to do it. However after a few sessions I get tired or bored since I don’t know what kind of progress I’ve made. With the 94Fifty Basketball, I actually do know if I am getting better which is truly amazing. My dribble speed improved almost 20 % in a few weeks which I would not have been able to know without the Ball .Falling short on the workouts is a great motivator for me especially if I’m close to passing it but so is seeing my numbers improve week after week. And I have to admit it is really fun to use while being torturous as the same time . Just buying the ball won’t help you though, you need to put in the work each week otherwise it will just go away since you’re dealing with fast twitch muscles. Each drill works your muscles in different ways which is the key to fast and consistent handles. I dread do the drills sometimes bc I know they will be frustrating and tough to do but how else will I get better?You’ll notice burn in your quads and butt when you’re doing the drills as well. The constant feedback you receive from the 94Fifty is what separates this ball from other balls, DVDs and drills. It is possible to cheat to pass a workout but what’s the point if you’re just cheating yourself? I do wish there was a level between College Star and Pro bc I feel the jump is slightly too much but I’m sure an update to the app will happen one of these days. At $179 dollars, it is pricey for a ball but it is about the same as nice pair of Nike’s which won’t make you any better (although we all like to think it will). My suggestion is pass on one pair of shoes and buy the ball if you really want to get better. The company also has a great 30 day return policy so even if you don’t like it like I have you can return it.
Here is a link to their site as well.
There are tons of tutorials and videos on the site as well as YouTube. I saw one of Mike Connelly working with it .. Would love to know his exact numbers .
Feel free to ask me any questions here or Twitter @schwollo