Soccer ball

Practice Exam: DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball

The fitness gamification continues with a plan that uses your mobile to help you hone your soccer skills.

“Play football in the living room,” no parent has ever said, but I’m about to change that. I have tweens and they are welcome to use the DribbleUp smart soccer ball indoors. The ball and app combo encourages tricky footwork and hey, if they get really good they could be signed and keep me in my old age.

It is not the first smart soccer ball on the market. In fact, it’s not really a smart ball: it’s more of a smart app that uses your device’s camera to track the non-smart Dribble-Up ball, with its distinctive color and markings.

I have never been able to play football. I’m not even really a soccer mom. But I love video games and I have a lot of time for fitness gamification: I get a buzz when I hit my step count, who doesn’t? And now I find that I really enjoy the ball control exercises.

The setup is pretty straightforward, but requires you to create a DribbleUp account through the website; this is not possible through the app (you can, however, do this on the web browser of a phone or tablet). Then you launch the free app and enter your shiny new username and password, place the phone or tablet on the provided stand (phones balance on it more securely than tablets) and let the camera see your DribbleUp ball. Play.

Image credit: DribbleUp

Much like the first video game levels that any numpty can survive, designed to teach you the controls rather than challenge you, the first two sessions are very straightforward. A video coach explains the ball handling exercise, shows you how to do the footwork, then circles on the screen indicate where you need to take the ball. At this point it drops a bit. Because as long as the ball hits the circles in roughly the right place, you can move on to the next level. It’s the football equivalent of when kids realized they could shake their wrists to beat pedometers.

Persist however and you will unlock new exercises which become more and more delicate. There are hundreds of them built in. Virtual trainers demonstrate each exercise, then you see yourself onscreen practicing in augmented reality, with onscreen targets for the ball.

The practice doesn’t have to be inside. We found it to work quite well outdoors as long as direct sunlight doesn’t make it difficult to see what’s going on on the screen. And you need to be close enough to your device to see AR onscreen properly, so it’s perfectly playable in a full-sized room. You can also use Apple TV or Chromecast to place the image on a larger TV screen for a home game console-style experience. If Nintendo made soccer balls, they would be like this.

DribbleUp smart football product photo

Image credit: DribbleUp

And that’s where it really belongs; as much video game as training tool. If your child enjoys soccer, there is more to it than just sitting on the sofa playing FIFA. But, above all, they must engage in the beautiful game. They must want to acquire these skills. I, on the other hand, am a cheater. I discovered that just as I can swing up and down to hit the right notes in SingStar for songs I don’t even know, I can get good marks in AR football just by hitting the ball in the right direction. place. How I get it there doesn’t matter. My legs trained in the process, but I didn’t learn much.

But if your child (or you) would like to apply themselves to learning ball handling techniques, they will watch the video lessons and do their best to imitate the movements. They will soon progress and develop new skills to pick up in the field. And the precise skills will mean they can progress to playing keep-uppie inside without trashing the place.

DribbleUp also makes a smart basketball and medicine ball, but these are not yet available in the UK.

From £ 85



An unusual soccer ball on a lanyard with a handle, with an app to teach you how to handle the ball. Again, you get training videos.

€ 39.90

Smart ball

More of a toy, it has built-in lights and sounds rather than a companion app. He has up to 100 Keepie uppies. Replace the count sensor if you just want to play soccer.

£ 20

Zepp plays football

Not a ball, more like a Fitbit for soccer. This portable soccer performance tracker slips into a calf sleeve (included) to collect stats including kicks, sprints, distance, and top speed.

£ 84.90

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