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Dribble Up Soccer Extras for Your Smart Ball

All you need to use the Dribble Up ball is the app on your phone or tablet and the smart ball but after using it for six months we’ve come up with a list of a few accessories that might be nice to have depending on how you’re using the smart ball.

As a player, coach, or parent it’s interesting to see the role that technology is playing in sports during games, at practices, and also off the field in planning, training, and analysis. The founders of Dribble Up felt like there were a lot of technology options being created for coaches but not many for players. We think they’ve created something exciting for youth players but like any “main course” it can always be made better with the right “side dishes”. Here are 8 things that we’ve used along with the smart ball, some as a player and some as a coach, that we can recommend.

1) iPad Stand

Each DribbleUp ball ships with a stand for your phone that has a detachable base. You can take off the phone stand and screw in a tablet stand for your iPad or Android tablet.

If you’re connecting your smart ball app to your television you don’t really need an iPad stand. But if you’re going to be using Dribble Up away from home and you have a tablet it would be nice to have a stand. Players that have used Dribble Up before are fine using it on a smaller screen on a phone but the first time you use the app it’s nice to see it on a bigger screen.

So, if you’re a coach and introducing the app and drills to players for the first time it’s nice to have a tablet stand to let them use it on a bigger screen when they’re getting used to it. One thing to keep in mind is that the better the camera and the faster the processor on your tablet the better the app will work. So, if you have an older tablet and a newer phone you’d probably have a better experience using it on your phone. You can always connect your phone to your TV when you first start using the app while you get used to it.

The first generation of stands that came with the smart ball from Kickstarter weren’t as sturdy and we broke a few testing out the ball. Since then Dribble Up has switched to phone stands with metal joints and we haven’t had a problem but if you’re looking for a good replacement phone stand we’d had good luck with this telescoping iPhone tripod. You can also find the iPad attachments on Amazon as well.

2) Portable Power Bank
If you’re a soccer family that spends days or weekends out at the soccer complex then chances are you might already have a power bank for extra juice.

If you don’t then it’s not a bad idea to pick up a power bank or two to keep in the soccer bag or the car. As I mentioned earlier the app is processor intensive so it will eat into your phone power if you use it a lot in one day. That being said we were out at Scheels Soccer Complex last weekend having a juggle battle with the smart ball and we got in quite a few rounds with our iPhone battery on its last legs.

If you’re running team training with an iPad then we’d definitely recommend bringing along a backup or two power banks. We have several free portable power banks we picked up from various United Soccer Coaches events but you can get one on Amazon for between $10-15 like this portable power supply.

3) HDMI Mirroring Cable

We actually ordered our HDMI mirroring cable the same day we ordered our first Dribble Up ball because we were excited to use it on the big screen. Unfortunately, the first cable that came in didn’t work for us so we had to order a different one.

On newer smart TVs you don’t even need a cord but our TV is older so we needed a cable to show the app on the television. This is a definite must have Dribble Up accessory because putting it on the big screen makes it a more interactive experience. When we do Dribble Up in our living room all the kids get involved and sometimes tag team the playlists. It’s perfect for a rainy or snowy day when training is cancelled and you can easily spend an hour with the family going through playlists.

Here’s a photo of the This is the HDMI Mirroring Cable that works for us

You can see in the photo we also bought this Lightning to HDMI adapter which did the trick as well. But that adapter cost about three times as much and doesn’t come with an HDMI cable so the HDMI mirroring cable is a better buy for your money in our experience.

4) Google Chromecast

We’re into gadgets so we bought the very first Chromecast that came out 5 years ago. It’s pretty old and doesn’t work as well as the newer generation ones but we’ve gotten some good use out it. A new Chromecast isn’t super expensive, about $35, so we’re due for a new one.

We haven’t tried it but if you have an Android device you can cast the app onto your TV with Chromecast. Some of the newer TVs actually have Chromecast built in but if yours is older like ours then you can display the Dribble Up app with a Chromecast dongle .

5) Movement Tracker

Dribble Up is good at tracking your foot skills but it’s also interesting to see how much physical activity you get out of the drills. You’ll definitely be out of breath after going through a playlist but wearing a tracker will tell you how much movement you get when going through the drills.

If you don’t already have one of these I wouldn’t go out and buy one just for using with Dribble Up. But if you already have a Fitbit or a Zepp Soccer tracker it’s interesting to wear it while you’re going through a skills playlist to see how much activity you get from it. Comparing one session to the next after it’s over would give you an idea of how much work you put it based on past workouts.

6) Padded Bag

This is a non-tech accessory but meant to protect your tech. We’re all used to carrying a soccer bag with all our gear but once you add technology into a bag full of soccer stuff you worry about potential damage.

If you’re a coach and carrying around an iPad or two and iPad stands it’s not a bad idea to have a separate protective case or sleeve to store them. There’s a pretty wide range of iPad bags based on your preference of cost/features but it’s not a bad idea to pick up one of them.

If you already have a laptop bag they work pretty well for sliding in power bank, iPads, stands and all the other accessories but of course then you have to carry that bag and your coaching gear as well.

7) iPhone Projector

Projecting the app onto a screen or a wall is a neat thing to do if you have a big group at an event. Using an iPad is fun for an individual player but if you want a group to be able to see the drill as they’re going through it that doesn’t work as well.

Obviously, the downside of a projector compared to putting it on a TV screen is that you have to worry about the lighting in the room and being able to see the projection.

The projector that we use is a Brookstone HDMI Pocket Projector that was originally $200 but we found on sale for $100 since they were ending that line. This mini projector is portable and works really well but it’s also pretty pricey – Miror Mini Projector.

This is an alternative portable projector that doesn’t give the same quality in terms of the picture or sound but it is much cheaper –COOQI Mini Portable Pocket Projector

8) Cloud Storage
This isn’t a physical accessory but it is nice to have a place to store the videos you make while doing Dribble Up drills. The Dribble Up app keeps a history of your drills so you can keep track of how you’ve scored over time.

It’s also neat to store videos of your dribble up sessions that you can go back and look at. For example, you could capture the video of a playlist at the start of a season and also at the end of the season and see the difference.

We have a variety of ways that we store the videos from Dribble Up. You can store videos for free in Google Drive, we also use Google Drive to store game videos so we’ve uploaded some of our juggle off videos from the smart ball app into Google Drive as well. We use enough storage space with our game videos that we have to pay for the service but it’s been the cheapest option we’ve found. Dropbox is another option since it makes it easy to move the videos from your phone into the cloud for storage.

If you’re interested in sharing your videos the free way to do it is to upload them to YouTube. If you want a little more control over who can see them you can also use Vimeo, it gives you more control but it’s not a free service.

Hopefully some of these suggestions will work out for you. If we had to suggest one we’d say go for the tech that lets you hook the smart ball app up to your television, whether that’s an HDMI Mirroring Cable or a Chromecast. We’ve had a lot of fun putting Dribble Up on the TV and getting everyone involved.

Happy Dribbling!

DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball

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Dribble Up Soccer Ball Coaches Guide

What’s the best way to use the Dribble Up smart soccer ball as a coach? It depends on factors such as the age of your players, what you hope the smart ball can help them achieve in terms of development, and how many Dribble Up balls you think you’ll have as a team.

At a high level some of the main benefits of the smart soccer ball to a coach are:

  • Motivation to Train
  • Confidence Booster
  • Technical Training Supplement
  • Accountability Tool

We’ll go into more detail for how each of these benefits can help your players and team but here’s a quick Dribble Up review of how we’ve seen the ball influence youth players.

Motivation to Train
The gamification of training through the Dribble Up app can really give more players that drive to train more on their own. They can unlock levels and compete against their friends and teammates via the leaderboards. This has really seemed to make a difference with the younger ages who tend to have shorter attention spans and less intrinsic motivation to work on foot skills or juggling.

Confidence Booster
One of the great things about the smart ball is that it lets players measure their success based on their own improvement rather than comparing themselves to the current development level of their teammates. For players who want to get better the ability to spend time with “directed training” in their own environment gives them a chance to get more comfortable on the ball without judging themselves against more developed teammates as they tend to do at team training.

Technical Supplemental
Using the smart ball to get additional touches during the week in addition to team training and also the chance to get in footwork when practice is canceled due to bad weather.

You can assign homework through the coaches dashboard to give your players specific areas to work on and then see who’s been putting in the work.

Members of your team can benefit from the first three of those even if just a few players on the team buy a smart ball or if you as a coach can set the team up with one or two. The Accountability aspect is trickier to accomplish across the whole team if you don’t have a larger set of the Dribble Up balls to work with.

Let’s look at a few different approaches you can explore as a coach.

Shared Team Dribble Up Ball

There are several ways you can use one or two smart soccer balls for your team. One way to approach is to use the Dribble Up ball as a reward for players that work hard in training or games. My kid’s baseball team used to give out a game ball for each game but obviously soccer coaches can’t afford the cost of handing out game balls after each match.

You could however pick a kid who played hard or who used the skills you’ve been teaching in a practice or a game and let them take home the smart ball as recognition. Depending on their age either them or their parents would have to download the app on their Android or Apple device. They can use this Dribble Up user guide for setting up the smart ball app.

If you only have 1 ball something like this might be your best option. If you don’t want to use it as a reward you could simply rotate the ball through the players and have a contest between them. Competing based on score gives an edge to the more developed players so one good way to do it is have the winner be based on most improved. Prior to a tool like Dribble Up this would have been a lot more work to keep track of but it’s certainly easier with the app.

Another option is to bring one or two Dribble Up balls to team training and setup a station where players can measure their scores on footwork or juggling by going through some of the playlists. To vary it you could change the station up, one time do footwork, the next time do juggling, and when it’s ready add in shooting.

This is the way that most coaches are starting off incorporating the smart ball into the team. It gives both the coach and players some exposure to how the ball works, lets you see if it’s something that fits into your coaching plans, and is a good test for how your players will react to incorporating some technology into training.

You don’t even need access to the coaches dashboard for this approach – just a ball and the Dribble Up app. If you’re sending the ball home with players then having them install the smart ball app on their phones is fine but if you’re going to have a station at practice it is nice to have the app on a tablet for a bigger viewing area.

We all know players can sometimes forget their own soccer ball so chances are one will eventually forget to bring the Dribble Up ball back from home. For cases like those it might be nice to have at least one backup ball so you can keep the rotation going until they return it.

1-2 Smart Balls
1-2 Devices & Stands
App on Each Player’s Phone if sending home

From the four main benefits I mentioned earlier this method helps increase the motivation to do extra training. The player response to using the ball has been really positive – the younger generation loves using technology and the features such as beating your score, the leaderboard, and unlocking levels keep them wanting to use it.

Dribble Up Team Set

As I mentioned earlier, using the smart soccer ball and the app as an accountability tool is a really enticing option as a coach. It would be really nice to be able to assign players homework and then see who was actually doing it and being able to see them improve over time.

You don’t need a smart ball to be able to tell who the players are that put in the work outside of practice. It’s obvious at training and in games who’s making gains and progressing in their technical ability. But it would be nice to have a team set of smart balls to help motivate and direct the players on your team who aren’t as motivated or determined to get better on their own.

The obvious issue is the cost of equipping your whole team with the smart ball. Many coaches know that parents already spend money on uniforms, coaching fees, field rental, league fees, tournament costs, pairs of cleats, etc and don’t want to add another cost on top of all that. Particularly if they don’t know how the ball will turn out, they hate to ask parents to pony up more money for something they’re not even sure will help.

That’s why starting out with getting just one or two balls and giving it a test is a great way to see if the tool is a good fit for the team. If it does make sense, the Dribble Up coaches dashboard is a great way to assign homework to help get in those additional touches each week.

1 Smart Ball/Stand Per Player
App Installed on Each Player’s Phone
Coaches Dashboard Access

The biggest benefit to having a team set is the ability to assign homework to everyone on your squad through the coaches dashboard. Not only is it a benefit from an accountability perspective so you can ask them to get in touches on the ball during the week but it’s also nice to give them something to do when no training is scheduled. For example, if practice is canceled due to bad weather or if you’re on a training break you can still push them drills to work on.

We’ll go over how to use the coaches dashboard below but I have two suggestions to make the Dribble Up app better. The first is the ability to mark some drills as required and other drills as optional when assigning homework to account for players who want an additional challenge. The other suggestion is to be able to indicate the player’s strong and weak foot in their player profile so the app can automatically adjust the drill you assign based on the player.


Dribble Up Trainer

Funny story, one of the families that we worked with used a trainer for their son to get some extra touches on the ball. Turns out that his trainer is also the virtual trainer that you see in the smart ball app. Some of his son’s friends had the ball but no one believed him that his coach was the one they heard every day saying “Needs to be better” and “Not good enough”. They tried a Dribble Up soccer amazon search but came up empty so ended up calling us and we got his son a ball. So now he has a picture of him holding the ball standing next to the trainer to show all his doubting friends.

I bring this up because many coaches have parents coming to them and asking what their player could do to get better. In fact, Tom Mura of Soccer Coaching Weekly shared on his podcast that he’s had hundreds of players over his coaching career ask him how they could improve and get more playing time. He can count on one hand the number of players that actually implemented his suggestions. How cool would it be as a player or parent to be able to come back at the end of the summer and show a coach in the app the progress they made on their weak foot after hearing they needed to improve? How cool would it be as a coach to give that feedback and then have a player do the work and then show you the results?

Simply suggest the player’s family look into buying a ball and point them to the Dribble Up Users Manual for how to use it. Obviously another option is to refer them to individual or group training but this is a cheaper option that doesn’t require the travel and scheduling.

For players that need to work on their technical skills the smart ball is one way coaches can suggest to improve them. Since the app scores the player on performance and keeps track of their progress over time it’s pretty easy to see if the kid is actually putting in the time and that will eventually show up on the field. Being challenged to work outside of practice and get more comfortable on the ball can be a confidence booster that gives them more time on the ball to make better decisions.


How to Use the Coaches Dashboard

The Dribble Up team has been very quick to fix issues we’ve found in the dashboard and fast to respond to feedback we’ve given in terms of improvements so the coaches site has already changed quite a bit since it first launched.  Since they’re so responsive some of the images you see here could be a little out of date as they continue to make improvements to the site.

The coaches dashboard is broken down into a few main areas and we’ll go over each of them:

  • Teams
  • Players
  • Playlists
  • Homework

You don’t actually need to have any players added in order to create your playlists and assign homework so you could jump into these right off the bat. The reason we cover the Teams and Players first is that it can take a while to get everyone to join so it makes sense to setup the team and invite players to start.  Then while you’re waiting to get everyone on board you can work on the Playlists and Homework

Dribble Up Teams

Everything you do in the dashboard is in the context of a certain team. When you first start you won’t have any teams and you’ll need to create one. Creating a team is really simple you just click the “Create New Team” button and give your team a name.

If you’re going to have more than one team make sure the name you give it it is descriptive enough. There are no real rules around what constitutes a team. If you wanted to setup something for just a few players you could create a team and only invite 4 players and they’d have their own leaderboard.

For example, we have the “Dribble Off” team that we use for contests and it has a few users like DribbleOff_RealMadrid and DribbleOff_Barcelona that we use for team events. But then we also have another team where we’ve added all the players from our boys team that have a smart ball.

So you can have different teams for different purposes depending on how you’re using the ball. One thing to keep in mind is that teams don’t share playlists so when you create a playlist for a team, it won’t be available for other teams. At least not now, that may be something that could change in the future.

Update: Looks like now you can also create a team from within the Dribble Up soccer app itself and invite other users to your team.

Dribble Up Players

Adding players to your team is pretty simple. On the “My Players” page your enter their Dribble Up handle and click the “Add Player to a Team” button. If the player is added successfully they show up on the Weekly Leaderboard for the team, if the Player id that you enter isn’t found it’ll give you an error message. One thing to note is that you can add a player to multiple teams. So they could be part of their primary soccer team but also be on a “team” with their friends from their school or their neighborhood that also had a smart ball.

Update: Dribble Up has added an Invitation link on the Players page which makes it easier to add kids to a team. Instead of having to add them each individually you can share that link in your team management app like TeamSnap, SportsEngine, SIPlay, Blue Sombrero, or whatever you use. You may still have to add a few manually but this way most can join on their own.

Once a player is added, if you click on their User Name in the leaderboard it takes you to a screen that shows 2 things:

1) Assignment Completion for the Week
This shows you which drills they have and haven’t completed over the current week.

2) Drill History
This shows you all the drills they’ve done over the last 2 weeks and their score for each. It’s not just a list of the drills, it currently organizes them into 6 different categories of types of drills:

  • Left Foot
  • Right Foot
  • Alternating
  • Juggling
  • Consistency
  • Endurance


One thing that would be helpful for Dribble Up to add would be a Homework report. Now to see who’s working on their footskills a coach has to click into each player’s history. A summary of all the players on one page would be nice. Even better would be a weekly email summary that highlighted which players were using it most and which ones were using it not at all or very little.

Dribble Up Playlists

These next two sections, Playlists and Homework, are where the coach gets to “work their magic”.

On the Coaches dashboard the link in the left navigation calls these “Custom Workouts” but what it allows you to do is to create your own Playlists. This is probably the most requested feature that I’ve heard from coaches and parents.

It is a great feature for coaches because it allows you to build workouts based on what you’d like your team to work on. Although if you want to get started with your team right away you can actually assign homework without creating any custom playlists, we’ll cover that more in the Homework section.

When you first come to the Custom Workout page you won’t see any listed and you’ll see a button that says “Create Workout”. After you click that button you’ll be asked to name your workout and then taken to a page where you can start to build your custom playlist from the library of drills that Dribble Up has provided.

Dribble Up Drills

The screenshot below shows you what it looks like after you click “Add Drill” and select one from the Drill Name dropdown menu

You can configure the duration of the drill and then click “Add Drill” again to continue selecting additional drills. Of course a common question here is, “what drills are available”? I know it was the first thing I asked before we bought our first smart ball. As of this writing there are 44 drills in the library. As I mentioned earlier, the team at Dribble Up has been very responsive to feedback so if you have a drill that’s not in the library that you’d like to add you can let them know. Those 44 drills can be combined together in any combination so that gives a good list of options for building a custom playlist.

We won’t list all the drills here because I’m sure over time they’ll change and have new ones added but if you’d like to know the current list of full drills just enter your email address below and I can send it to you.

Playlist Tips

One of the first things we did when we got the first smart ball was to go through the drills library and try out the drills. That’s what I’d recommend for any coach because as we know the same move can be referred to by multiple names. For example, what you might call Toe Taps is named “Ball Steps” in the Dribble Up library.

We went through the drills in the app itself but the Custom Playlist page makes this much easier because as you change drills it shows the video description and preview of each one.

The main things you set when creating a playlist are which drills to include, what order to put them in, and what duration to have each drill last for. The drills now autosave as you add them to the playlist which is an improvement over the initial design where you had to save each drill after adding it. You can also now easily change the order of the drills which used to be a chore. We put together a list of Dribble Up drill playlist tips that share some of the things we learned when putting together our first playlists.


One thing we’d love to see and have already shared with Dribble Up is the ability to copy an existing playlist and save it under a different name. That would make it a lot easier to create different variations on a playlist, to create a progression of simple to more difficult playlists.

Something else that would be helpful for coaches would be the ability to filter the drills based on certain criteria. For example, show me only the drills that work on Turns or only drills that use the Sole of the Foot.

Sample Playlists

Here’s an idea of some of the playlists that we’ve created so far.

Futsal King

After moderating a panel on Futsal during the Youth National Championships some of the discussion made me realize we could use a playlist that focused only on using the sole of the foot.  So I created a playlist called “Futsal King”, the video below shows you a preview of all the different drills in the playlist as shown in the Dribble Up app.


After reading an interesting analysis on the importance of teaching turns in soccer a while back I had my son’s trainer working with him on turning under pressure. Over time the results in training and games were pretty significant so I also created a Turns playlist in Dribble Up. Obviously that’s not teaching a player to turn under pressure but it helps players on the mechanics of the turns.

Dribble Up Homework

Once you’ve created a custom playlist you can make it available to your players by assigning it to them as Homework. In the coaches dashboard this page is actually called Assignments in the left navigation.

As you can see in the image below the homework page let you assign playlists to certain days of the week. Over the winter I assigned the “Left Foot Advanced” for every day of the week because the off season is a perfect time for a player to work on their weak foot. We actually started with the “Left Foot” playlist, moved to “Left Foot Advanced”, and then ended the winter with the “Left Foot Expert”.

These seems a perfect way to use a tool like this smart ball, as supplemental training on something that almost every player needs to work on.

Assigning Homework

For each day there’s an “Add Workout” button you can use to assign as many workouts to that day as you need. When you click the button you get a “Select a Workout” dialog (shown here) that lists existing playlists that are available to assign.  Scroll down to the bottom of the dialog to find any custom playlists that you created, in the picture you can see the Turns and “Lucky Left Foot” playlists that we built for that team.

Any homework you add to a day is assigned to every player on the team and will show up in the players Dribble Up app in the Homework tile. Right now there’s no way to assign certain playlists to certain players, they all get the same assignment.

The homework in not based on Calendar days but rather on a recurring week so once you assign a playlist on Monday – that workout will show up every Monday in their homework until it’s removed from the coaches dashboard.


Even if you could assign homework per player in the dashboard it would definitely be time consuming for a coach to assign specific homework per player, not sure how many would. However, it might be nice to be able to assign homework based on player attributes. For example assign certain playlist to offensive vs defensive players or something of that nature.

How to Get Started With Dribble Up

Hopefully this has been a good introduction into one way your team can use technology to help develop players. Last year we hosted a coaching education session and the Director of Youth Soccer for our local MLS team came and presented to the coaches. His topic “Best Practices for Player Development” covered 4 areas – Player Development, Coaching Education, Player ID & Team Formation, and Parent Engagement. In two of those areas he touched on keeping up with technology that can help coaches and players on their development path.

It just so happened that it was around the holidays and we had brought him a Dribble Up ball as a gift to say thanks for taking time to share his expertise so it fit nicely into the technology topic. Player development is why we use the smart ball and why we write about it here for other coaches to learn from.

It might not be the right fit or timing for your team or club but at least now you know more about the ball and how it helps some players. If you’re interested in trying it out you have a few options:

1) Run your team through a Dribble Off Challenge. We bring the smart balls, iPads, and other equipment to you and run a session so you can see how they work in person and how your team reacts.

2) Test out a single ball – Dribble Up Smart Ball

3) Inquire about a team set. Send us an email to with what your team needs are. Team orders also include copies of the book “Soccer IQ: Things That Smart Players Do” by Dan Blank.



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Dribble Up Soccer Ball Playlist Tips

How can you use the Dribble Up soccer ball for your team? There are a few ways a team can use the smart ball for training that don’t require every player to buy a smart ball. One of the ways is to have a Dribble Up station at team training that players can use to work on their foot skills.

How many times have you told players who are sitting out of a scrimmage to juggle on the sideline to get more touches? How many of them actually juggle and for how long? With Dribble Up you can get those kids wanting to work on their foot skills or their juggling and even keep track of it if you’d like.

Last week we had a 3v3 tournament for our team and ran Dribble Up soccer stations for the kids who weren’t on the field. Here are some lessons we learned when putting together the DribbleUp playlists that will make your session more effective.

1) Create Multiple Progressive Sets of Drills
We got a little carried away with the first playlist we created. It had 10 drills we thought were pretty fun but we figured out pretty quick on our first test that was a mistake.

When you’re introducing players to a new training tool it’s a good idea to ease them into it. The principles of coaching youth still apply – set them up for success and then build on that success as the session goes on.

So we changed our approach and created multiple playlists:

  • Mini Messi
  • Messi
  • Super Messi

The Mini Messi only had 3 simple drills that pretty much all players have done and introduced them to using the ball. The Messi added another 2 drills which were a little more complicated and the Super Messi added an additional 3 drills that also increased complexity.

One thing we’re used to about coaching is that you can adjust your drills as you go depending on how the kids react. When you’re using technology like Dribble Up it’s harder to make those changes in the middle of the session so it’s best to prepare more options ahead of time.Along those lines we created another set of drills

  • Mini Ronaldo
  • Ronaldo
  • Super Ronaldo

We followed the same progressive approach where each playlist built on the previous one increasing the length and complexity but used different skills than the Messi playlists.

Turned out it was a good thing that we had a few variations because some of the players were struggling with the last drill in the Messi playlist so we switched over to the Ronaldo instead and they both scored better and enjoyed the playlist more.


2) Lead With the Strong Foot
In the Dribble Up drill library you have some drills that use both the left and right foot in the same drill and others that have 2 variations. For example the “Left Foot Roll Tap” and the “Right Foot Roll Tap”.

Since most of our players have their right foot as their strongest foot we always led with the “Right Foot….” drill first. That way they got comfortable with the skill using the foot they’re most comfortable with and made it easier when they moved onto the “Left Foot…” drill.

Obviously not every player is right footed so how do you handle that? Right now DribbleUp has no way to indicate which foot is a player’s strong foot. I think it would be helpful if a player could indicate their strong foot in their player profile. That way in the playlist you could lead with “Strong Foot…” and follow it with “Weak Foot…” and the app would adjust based on the player.

3) Save After Adding Drills
As you’re building the playlist in the coaches dashboard be sure to save each drill after you add it. There were times when I went in and added a few drills and forgot to save them. If you go back and try to save after adding several drills you can run into issues in the dashboard.

Suggestions – Add the ability to easily re-order the drills in the playlist.

4) Do a Trial Run
When you introduce a new drill at practice you don’t always know how it’s going to work out. You can diagram it and plan how you’ll introduce/demonstrate it to the team but until you actually get out on the practice pitch you’re not sure how it’ll go over.

The nice thing about the Dribble Up playlist is that it’s not as complex as team training so you don’t need the whole team there to test it out. You can run one player through the drills to see how they handle them.

As I mentioned earlier we initially created just one longer playlist but after running my son through it I realized several mistakes I had made setting them up. Definitely do a trial run of your playlist when it’s easy to tweak it. Don’t wait until you’re at training to discover you need to change it.

Even if you’re not running the playlist at team training and you’re just assigning it for homework it’s good to do a trial run before pushing it out the team.

5) Don’t Rely on Wi-Fi
The DribbleUp app doesn’t need to be connected to the internet to use it but there are a few features that require connectivity to work.

For example, if you create a custom playlist and assign it to the team for homework the device needs to be connected to be able to access the homework.

A good test is to set your device to Airplane mode before you do your Trial run and make sure everything works as expected. If it doesn’t then you can

6) Disable Updates
After you do your trial run and get everything worked out it’s not a bad idea to turn off your updates until after you use Dribble Up at practice. For an iPhone you do this in Settings:

  • Swipe up to iTunes & App Store
  • Find Automatic Downloads
  • Toggle Updates off

Our team session went great but then 2 days later I brought the Dribble Up stations to a coaches event to demo how we use them. In between there was a Dribble Up app update and the interface and a few other things changed. It was definitely an improvement but I wasn’t used to the new version of the app so it was trickier to show other folks how to use it.

7) Create Dribbling Zones
When players are working hard on these skills and doing changes of direction the ball eventually will get away from them and roll away. We had multiple stations setup so the players could compete and if you do this you’ll want to create zones so the ball isn’t rolling into the other players area and messing up their score.

One way to do it is to space them out or if you don’t have enough space you can separate them with bumpers. At first the players will ask what they’re for and why they need them but then once they get into the playlist and eventually lose control of the ball they see why it’s nice for their score to have their ball not rolling away and not have other balls rolling into their area.

8) Dribble Up is not Rest
When you take your US soccer coaching courses and plan out practices you allow for enough rest periods in between activities. Don’t treat a DribbleUp station as rest. After a player finishes a DribbleUp playlist they’re out of breath. Don’t make the playlist too long, 3 minutes maybe.

We’ve found that 20 seconds per drill has worked out pretty well. Allows them enough time to settle in and get a rhythm going but doesn’t wear them out.

By the end of our 3v3 tournament the kids who were sitting out opted out of the Dribble Up stations because they were worn out from the 3v3 and needed the break.

9) Have Enough Stations
The right number of stations will vary depending on how many kids you have at training and how you’re using it. We had 2 and it went pretty well, I’d say 2 – 4 would be a good number.

Having 3 stations would haven’t worked out with the way were running the competition but 4 would have worked since we could have let twice as many kids go at once. If you weren’t doing a contest and just having players go through the playlist then 3 would be great, or if you had 3 teams that wanted to go at once that would work as well.

10) Teach Players How to Use the App

There’s not a whole lot to using the app. Simply tap the playlist you want and scan the ball to start so it doesn’t take a long time to show them how.

If they’re waiting on you to scan the ball and start the playlist it slows down the flow so definitely make them self-sufficient on getting started once the player before them finished.

Next time we’ll do a write-up on the coaches dashboard and how you can create custom playlists and assign them to your players as homework. If you’re interested in having us come run a dribble up skills session we’d be happy to chat with you about a Dribble Off Challenge or a Dribble Off Soccer Party.

Happy Dribbling!

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Dribble Up Smart Soccer Ball Lessons Learned

One great thing about Dribble Up is that training with the smart ball just a 10 minutes a day can help your foot skills. To maximize your time on the ball here are 10 things to avoid that we’ve noticed as we’ve used the soccer ball for training at home during the off season. We were actually listening to the Coaching Soccer Weekly podcast episode titled “How to Improve Technically at Home” as we wrote up this list. The end of the episode has a great story about a player who worked hard in the off season and her effort paid off when she made the 1st team in the Spring. Hopefully these tips will make it easier for you to practice at home with the Dribble Up ball and put in the time to start off next season with more control and confidence.

1) Settle Into the Drill
Don’t wait for the timer to start before you do the drill. At the start of each drill the trainer will demo the skill before the app starts timing you. Rather than waiting for the timer to begin – start trying the skill as he demos it. This will get you into a rhythm so when the app starts tracking your movements you’ll have settled into the drill. Use that demo period as a warm up for the drill. But what if you don’t know how to do the drill? That leads to the next tip…

2) Preview the Playlist
Don’t start a playlist without first reviewing the videos and trying out the skills. Imagine you’re at practice and your coach is trying to teach the team a new footskill. Is it easier or harder to learn a new move when you feel like the whole team is watching you try?

That’s one of the great benefits of Dribble Up and other tools that help you practice at home. You can learn the moves at your own pace, without the pressure of trying to learn it quickly under the watchful eye of your coach and teammates.

I’m sure we’ve all seen or experienced players struggling with learning a new foot skill at practice and getting embarrassed and giving up on it. Since you’re not at practice, take your time and watch the drill preview as many times as you need to and try it out. I wish there was a way to put the preview video on a loop so it would keep playing while you practiced it.

It’s great that Dribble Up does challenge you by putting you under pressure with a timer and grades you – eventually we’ll all be under pressure in a game situation. But your coach probably wouldn’t want you to go out and try a brand new move in a game. She’d rather you practiced that new move at home or in training and then use it in a game once you’re more comfortable.

Same with Dribble Up. Don’t put yourself under pressure to execute the very first time you learn a new skill, practice it first before grading yourself.

3) Choosing the Right Drill
Don’t worry about whether you’re doing the “right” drills. I’ve had parents ask about which drills their players should be doing and how they know if they’re doing the right ones. One nice thing about Dribble Up is that it gives you different skills to choose from but sometimes when we’re faced with lots of options it makes it harder for us to decide.

For example, if you go into the Drills library you could spend a lot of time looking at all the skills and deciding which to work on. The key is to just pick one and get started. There is no “right drill” but a sign of a “wrong drill” is that it’s too easy for you. That’s probably a sign you need to select the Medium or Hard scoring level or maybe move on to another drill. Which brings us to our next tip…

4) Challenge Your Feet & Brain
Don’t get discouraged when you’re doing a new drill and it feels like your feet can’t keep up with your brain. If you try a new drill and it’s tricky it can be tempting to go back to one that you know well. Don’t avoid a drill just because it seems difficult. Your brain and feet might not line up right away but keep at it – the more you do a playlist the better you’ll get at it. You can look back in time at the Progress tile and see your skill improving.

5) Don’t Worry About Your Score
Don’t worry about getting a low score when you’re doing a new drill. Think about it in terms of grades at school. First you learn something, then later you’re tested to see how well you understand it. In Dribble Up, the first time you do a drill you’re learning it and the 2nd, 3rd, etc. Although you’re given a score each time you shouldn’t expect it to be good right off the bat. It’s kind of like a pre-test in school. Your instructor doesn’t expect you to ace it, rather it’s to set a baseline to see what you know. What’s important is that you focus on understanding the move and doing it well and over time your score will improve.

6) Don’t Speed Through
Don’t try and go full speed through each drill. Pay attention to the details of the moves and things like the body position of the trainer and speed will come over time.

Take the Left Foot L Turns drill for example. After you pull the ball behind your body with your left foot the job of the right foot is simply to roll it with the sole back to the left to setup the move again.

The whole focus of the drill is executing a crisp L Turn so do that part quickly. Think about how you’d use the move in a game situation. You want the turn to be as quick as possible so focus on speed there but your right foot roll is really just to set the move back up.

7) Don’t Count Only on Dribble Up
Of course the ball has helped our kids and many others improve their foot skills but it’s only intended as a supplemental tool. There’s a lot about the game you won’t learn from Dribble Up that’s critical to be a well rounded footballer. Using a smart ball to train is what’s referred to as “unopposed” training. There’s a debate in the soccer coaching world about which is better opposed vs unopposed practice our opinion is that both are good when used in conjunction.

A common scenario for many players is that team training is more tactical so they don’t get a ton of touches on the ball. If a player is part of an Academy they might have an extra night of technical training but if not then they’re possibly not getting enough touches on the ball each week. That’s where tools like Dribble Up and Techne come in, getting players more time on the ball each week. Some players work with personal trainers to get in more ball work and this makes a big difference but the two downsides of that approach are cost and scheduling.

The nice thing about Dribble Up is that is has the trainer built into the app and you can work on it whenever you want. One possible approach is to start off with Dribble Up to get more comfortable on the ball and to supplement team training. Then once they’re farther along technically they could progress to small group or personal training – at that point the coach would be able to do a lot more with the player since they’d be more technically proficient.

8) Consistency Counts
Don’t focus on being perfect, rather focus on being consistent. No player is perfect, even professional players make mistakes. You can’t expect yourself to be perfect but you can challenge yourself to be consistent. This means training regularly and also focusing on technique. As we touched on earlier don’t worry about your score and don’t speed through the drills. Instead focus on getting into a rhythm and executing the move properly each time. This builds muscle memory so when you have the ball at your feet in a game you won’t have to think about controlling the ball and your brain can think about all the other aspects of the game.

9) Don’t Use Your Email Address
When you sign up for your Dribble Up account don’t user your email address as your user id. If you do everyone will see it in the leader board. I suppose if you want people to be able to email you then maybe use your address but often times the players using the smart ball app are younger kids and don’t want to share their address out to the world.

10) Don’t Train in Socks
Dribbling in socks is bad news. On hard wood you’ll slip and even on carpet the ball can slip right under your foot when you go to change direction. This isn’t as big a deal if you’re using bumpers but it messes up your rhythm. We’d say wear shoes but sometimes you’re kicking around the house and want to do Dribble Up and you’d have to run and put on your shoes. Don’t create reasons not to train, you want to remove obstacles from getting in footwork. In that case it might be best to just lose your socks and do it barefoot.

One good time to get your footwork in is anytime you spend just waiting around. For example, if you’re riding the bus to school and waiting for it to show up you could get in a playlist or two- you already have your shoes on an ready to go!

Dribble Up Success

Hopefully some of these tips were helpful for your training. Remember, the Dribble Up ball isn’t meant to be the only thing you train with but using it can help improve your game.

An example we’ve experienced is the “Strong Roll” drill that’s part of the “Left Foot Advanced” playlist. Over the off season we’ve been working on the weak foot so my son’s done that drill quite a bit. The other day at training the coach used him as an example for that move, which is definitely a confidence boost for any player. The coolest thing though was to watch him use it successfully in a game last weekend.

That’s one example of how tools like these can have an impact on your team training and also in your games.  What drill will be the one to make a difference in your next game?

Happy Dribbling!


DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball

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DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball Tips

Once you start using your smart ball there are a few things you can do to get more out of your practice. These tips came mostly from conversations I’ve had with parents who’s players have started training with the smart ball. Whether you got Dribble Up on Amazon or on this site, these tips can help with some of the questions you might have about training with the soccer ball.

1) Train in Good Lighting
Since it’s winter and many of us are training indoors this can be a useful tip. When you use Dribble Up make sure you setup in a space with good lighting and that doesn’t have a bright light source in the background.

We’ve had issues with both of these, when we first started trying out DribbleUp in our living room we had a lamp right in the middle of the background. Often times when we’d scan our ball the cones would start off red and we’d know right away the tracking was off. We had to re-scan several times to get green cones until we talked to the team at DribbleUp and learned to remove the light source from the background.

We also tried using Dribble Up in our unfinished basement which is dimly lit. It’s kind of chilly in the winter but has great cement walls for doing wall work with the Techne app my daughter uses. When we used Dribble Up in the dim light the ball tracking wasn’t perfect so we moved upstairs and it was much better.

2) Dribble Up Video Preview
If you’re doing a new playlist or one that has drills you haven’t done before it’s a good idea to watch the videos before starting the playlist. The Dribble Up app does show you a clip of the drill as you go through the playlist. If it’s a simple one then it’s easy to pickup but as you start working on the more complex drills its nice to be able to watch them a few times before tackling it in the middle of the playlist.

Each drill has a little blue camera icon next to it, if you tap it you can watch the Dribble Up video of the trainer explaining the drill and then demonstrating it. Once he’s done you can tap the video to play the demonstration again, you can watch it a few times until it makes sense.

3) Choosing the Right Difficulty Level
One of the things we mentioned in our early Dribble up reviews was the need for different level of players to be able to use the app and stay motivated. It was kind of discouraging for less developed players to get low scores so we were really glad when they added the ability to select a difficulty level.

So now that there’s an option the question is which level should a player use to train? The best way to figure it out is to try the same playlist on different difficulty levels. Start off doing the playlist on the easy setting and then do it again on the medium setting. You can go back and look in the Progress tile to see a history of your drills. If you aced the easy playlist then you’re obviously ready for the medium setting. If you struggled on some of the drills on the higher setting, that shows you what things to work on in the lower setting.

4) New Drill Alert
Dribble Up has added a new feature that I like but may confuse players who are already accustomed to the app. As you know each playlist is made up of drills and after one completes the next begins. Now the DribbleUp app starts beeping during the last few seconds of a drill to let you know when you can stop. I think it’s a good new feature but my kids stop as soon as they hear the beeping which messes up their score. So if you’re not used to the warning beep, when you hear it – keep going. I think it’d be nice if they added some audio signal when the drill starts as well, what you do think?

5) Train with Bumpers

As you know good dribblers lose their mark with fakes and changes in direction. You’ll practice a lot of changes of direction when you go through the Dribble Up playlist and as you’ve probably experienced there are times when you might lose control of the ball and have it roll away.  If you’re training out on an open turf field that’s not a big deal. But many folks use DribbleUp in their living rooms, basement, garage, etc. To prevent you chasing the ball all over while the drill runs or having your smart ball get stuck under a chair you can simply put down some bumpers to keep the ball contained if you lose control. The easiest thing we’ve found that works pretty well is throw some couch pillows down if you’re in the living room. In the garage or basement we’ve used storage bins on either side of us, whatever is handy!

6) DribbleUp Coaches Dashboard
Dribble Up has a coaches dashboard where coaches can assign homework and see which players have been putting in extra work. Primarily I’ve been using it just to assign playlists for the weak foot to get players working on their non-dominant foot over the winter.

As the app evolves I think more and more coaches will use the custom playlist functionality to assign work outside of training sessions. If you’ve ever been in a huddle at the end or beginning of practice when the coach asks who’s been working on foot skills outside of practice you can probably relate. You can’t fool the smart ball into thinking you did a workout. It’s a great way for a coach to see which players are putting in the work outside of training.

In addition to being useful for coaches it’s also a good way to maintain healthy competition within a squad. When players are added to a team they get their own Leaderboard – in addition to the DribbleUp FC leaderboard. So they can see what level their teammates are on – for some players that’s the little extra motivation they need to login every day to make sure they’re keeping up with their team.

If you have other players on your team who might be interested in training with Dribble Up and competing against their teammates let me know and we’ll work on getting them a ball.

Happy Dribbling!


DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball

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Farewell to Feilhaber – The Soul of Sporting Kansas City

To some Sporting Kansas City fans Benny Feilhaber felt like the soul of the team. Not only did he connect the offense and defense on the field but he also helped connect the fans with the team off the pitch through his haircuts & mustache personality. His many interviews and the Benny Fielhaber show showed us a side of him and many other players that we didn’t have access to on game day.

I couldn’t bear to tell my son the news when I heard that Feilhaber wouldn’t be wearing Sporting blue next season. I finally told him on the way home from practice the other night and he took it pretty hard – overreacted of course – “I don’t even want to watch next year”. Of course we’ll still watch every game but it won’t be the same without Benny out there in the middle of the pitch.

Mr. Check Your Shoulder

Feilhaber was really fun to watch, it was great seeing him pull off a picture perfect turn in the middle of the field. In our house his nickname could have been Mr “Check Your Shoulder” for the number of times I paused a game to show my kids how he knew where his teammates and opponents were on the field before the ball even got to his foot.

Not only was he great at assisting his brothers in blue he also scored some amazing goals and was like money in the bank from the penalty spot. Benny had a passion for the game, he played with heart and it was great as a fan seeing him get fired up on the pitch when his team really needed it.

His soccer story is a fun one if you get a chance to listen to the tale of how he walked onto UCLA and then ended up spending time in the Bundesliga and English Premier League before coming to the MLS.

Benny Will Be Missed

We had several chances to meet Benny over the years at various events, he was always a pleasant guy and really nice to the kids – who of course wanted pictures and autographs.

We got a chance to attend a SKC practice last summer and watch Benny and the rest of the team in action in training. As you can see from the pic, he’s such a nice guy he “gave us the shirt off his back” 🙂

I guess his leaving offers a few good lessons for youth players & their families:

1) Appreciate the Moment

You never know how long you’ll get to be on a team. If you’re with a coach and group of teammates you enjoy then cherish every game because you won’t get to play with them forever.

2) Don’t Burn Bridges

You never know whose team you might end up on next. You don’t know who you’ll end up playing for and with so always be a good sport.

3) Soccer is a Journey

Just because you’re no longer the best fit in a certain team or club it doesn’t mean you’re a bad player. Do your thing and you’ll find a place where you’re needed.

4) Always Work Your Hardest

If you listen to the story of how Benny ended up in Kansas City you’ll hear how Vermes was his assistant coach on the USMNT U-20 squad.  Years later when Benny wasn’t having a lot of luck on the field and other clubs weren’t excited about his playing form Vermes remembered what Feilhaber was cable of and “took a chance” that he could help bring back his mojo. You never know what impression you might make on a team mate, coach, or someone else in the soccer community that could come back to help you someday.

Farewell Gift for Feilhaber

It makes us sad that we’re now a line item between New England and LAFC in Feilhaber’s soccer career but we wish him the best as he travels back to where he grew up in California.

We’re fortunate that we have a lot of veterans like Besler, Zusi, Opara, Melia, Espinoza, and Medranda to take care of the “soul of soccer” in KC – and we’re excited about the new players that a have chance to make Kansas City “their team” the way that Feilhaber did after he arrived.

Benny will always have a special place in our soccer family and to say “Farewell to Fielhaber” we’re giving away commemorative Benny Fielhaber jumbo soccer cards. Here’s a picture of the card, it’s 5×7.

We’re sending them out for free. You can sign up for one in our store and we’ll mail it to you free of charge in memory of Benny! Limited supply so get yours before they’re gone – Request Card Here.

[ Until Benny’s first LAFC training session we’re also offering a discount on the Dribble Up smart soccer ball– $10 off with coupon code of BENNY at checkout .

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Dribble Up Coupon for Your Club Map

Find Dribble Up coupon codes for soccer clubs or organizations that have players who use the smart ball for training.

You can enter your club’s name below to see if a dribble up coupon code exists for your club. You can also include your team name or coach to see if your team has a dribble up team account, that’s optional – not necessary.

So, for example, you could mention just your club “Southern Soccer Academy”. Or you could say “Southern Soccer Academy – U12 boys”.

Be sure to also include your email address in the field below it so we can send you your discount code.

Who Uses Dribble Up?

After most orders we have a conversation with the family to learn more about the player(s) who will be using the smart ball and the soccer club or organization(s) that they play for.

We’ve noticed several things that the players have in common.

1) Multiple Soccer Teams
Many of the youth players are playing on multiple teams. Whether it’s their high school team, club team, rec team, ODP team – many kids play for more than one team. Overall these players really love the game and just want to get in as many chances to play as possible.

Some players on the very top level teams that participate in the Development Academy ( DA ) or Elite Clubs National League ( ECNL ) only play for that one club but are very committed to their club’s intense training schedule.

2) Enjoy Skills Training
Another common thread is that these players can spend hours training away from team practice. It’s not just time specifically spent on foot skills, one dad said his daughter has a size 1 ball that’s always at her feet. As she’s brushing her teeth in the morning or evening she’s juggling or passing off the wall.

Another mom said her son just “plays soccer nonstop”. Of course it makes sense that these kids would enjoy the Dribble Up ball, they’re passionate about the game/training and the smart ball gives them another way to do that.

3) Ball Envy
Most families who come looking for a smart soccer ball have either used one or been told about one. Some folks start off looking for the Adidas miCoach smart ball and end up getting a Dribble Up because of the price difference but most of them either tried out or had DribbleUp specifically recommended to them by other players or by coaches.

For example, one dad said that a local college uses the the ball to help develop their players individually and someone on the coaching staff recommended it for his daughter.

We lent one of ours out to a friend and haven’t gotten it back yet. We’re hoping once they get their own smart ball it’ll show up again, it’s definitely addicting!

4) Supportive & Curious Parents
Often times parents who buy a smart ball are in some role of leadership within a soccer club. Whether it’s as a team manager, a coach, registrar, director of coaching, or technical director many times they’ll also have a kid in the club and they’re testing out the smart ball.

This is encouraging for those clubs because it shows that folks who have a role in the future of the club are interested in trying out new methods to help their players develop.

Dribble Up Clubs

Below is a map of all the soccer clubs or organizations who have players that are using the smart soccer ball. If your club isn’t represented and should be let us know. You can click on the soccer player icon to see more info about each club. One thing you’ll notice is that many of the clubs are in the Midwest where we’re located. There are teams on both the East Coast and West Coast but the Midwest is definitely ahead in the number of Dribble Up players.

Why are we interested in what players are using the ball and which clubs they play for? As we mentioned earlier it’s encouraging when club leaders are looking for new approaches to help develop their players.

However, we don’t think it’s solely the job of the club and coach to develop soccer players. Just like teachers in school hope and expect that parents will be involved in encouraging their kids to read and learn at home – coaches appreciate and expect when their players put in the work to get better outside of team training.

Setting an Example

Just the other night at the end of training we shared with our U12 players that we could tell which kids are doing work outside of practice. Those players are not only making themselves better technically but also making the team better because their better touch and comfort with the ball gives them more time to make tactical decisions. It also accelerates the learning process at training because they’re able to more easily pick up and execute the new skills we’re teaching.

We don’t think players need to rely only on their coach and club to help them improve.  Clubs that have kids that are motivated to get better on their own help make those clubs better and to contribute towards creating a culture of hard work and development. That’s why we’re interested in which clubs have players using training tools like Dribble Up.

Here’s a list of clubs by region

  • Mid-West
    • SC Waukesha
    • Sun Prairie Soccer
    • Nationals Tri-County
    • Sporting Lees Summit
    • Minneapolis United
    • Sporting Springfield
    • Lakeview High School
    • St. Charles Youth Soccer
    • Michigan WolveHawks
    • Michigan Jags
    • CUSA Crew
    • Midland Soccer Club
    • Vardar Soccer Club
    • KC Scott Ghallager
    • South Suburban Soccer Assn
    • Piper Soccer Club
    • Prior Lake Soccer Club
  • South
    • South Carolina United FC
    • Brevard SA
    • Cape Coral Soccer Association
    • United Futbol Academy
    • Houston Dynamo Academy
    • Southern Soccer Academy
    • James Island Youth Soccer
  • East
    • Howell Soccer Club
    • East Hampton Soccer Club
    • Western New York Flash Academy
    • Global Premier Soccer Rhode Island
    • Cedar Stars Academy
    • Torpedoes Soccer Club
  • West
    • Spokane Scotties
    • Maple Valley Premier League
    • Valley Center Hurricanes
    • LA Galaxy South Bay
    • Heat FC
    • Inland Empire Surf Soccer Club

DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball Package

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DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball Users Guide

When we first bought the DribbleUp smart ball the team told us we didn’t need any instructions or a manual, installing and using the app was simple – but if we had questions to let them know.

The DribbleUp app was simple to use and we started training with it the afternoon we opened the box. However, many of you who purchased a smart ball from our store have asked for installation and setup instructions so here is the DribbleUp users guide.

If you don’t yet have a smart ball and would like to try one out we have both size 4 and size 5 that we can ship out right away, you can return it if the ball doesn’t meet your training needs – click here to Dribble Up.

For new developments on the smart ball, tips on using it for training, and Dribble Up coupons enter your email below:

1) Download the Free DribbleUp App

iPhone / iPad App

You can download the DribbleUp app on newer generations of an iPad or an iPhone.  I tested it on my wife’s iPhone 5 and it ran great, anything older than that and you could start running into a laggy experience when doing the drills.  It’s a sophisticated tracking application that requires a lot of processing and optical tracking so your experience won’t be as good on older phones. That goes for both iPhone and Android devices.

Obviously the benefit of running the app on your iPad is that you have a bigger viewing area when you’re training but then it’s not quite as portable as your phone. Luckily you don’t have to choose, you can install the app on both your iPhone and your iPad and use it on the device that suits your situation. You’ll need an additional stand for a tablet that doesn’t come with the DribbleUp ball but you can find them on Amazon.

If you do a search in the Apple App store you’ll see two listings, one for basketball and one for soccer.  Here’s a link to the soccer version in the App Store – Dribble Up App iOS

Here’s the link to the Android version in the Google play store. You can run the app on both Android phones and Android tablets (although the Amazon Fire is based on Android the processor isn’t strong enough to run the tracking app) – DribbleUp App Android

2) Create Your DribbleUp User Account

When you first open the app you’ll be taken to a sign in screen that will have link to the Sign Up screen if you’re new user. They don’t require much information – just Name, Username, Password.

Name – Your Name isn’t shown in the app, I assume it’s used for customer service purposes or perhaps will show in later versions.

Username – Your Username is what will display on the leaderboard so choose it carefully.

If you’re signing up as part of a team your coach may have a certain format that they want you to use. It’s not possible right now but I can see in the future DribbleUp giving you the option to publish your profile online for other players or coaches to see. So imagine yourself someday sending a link to your DribbleUp profile to a college coach and what they might think of the username you chose.

If you have multiple people using the DribbleUp ball you can create a different account with a different user name for each of them.

Email – Your email isn’t used in the app, only if DribbleUp needs to contact you.

Password – Once you create your password you probably won’t need it again for a while since the app remembers you. If you do forget it there’s a Forgot Password option.

3) Assemble Phone Stand

The phone stand ships as two pieces to avoid any damage en route.  Assembling the stand is pretty simple, screw the bottom tripod into the top phone holder.  The legs of the tripod telescope out to get your phone higher off the ground and to give it a better angle to track the ball from.

If you need a tablet stand you can use the same base and simply order a top section that holds a tablet.

4) Slide in Android or iPhone

Pull up on the top section of the phone holder, slip your phone into the holder, and let the top slide back down and hold your phone tight.

Be sure to position your phone far enough to the right so that the stand doesn’t press on any of the buttons on the side of your phone.

We’ve found it helps to angle the phone downwards a bit once it’s in, point it slightly towards the floor. Something else to be aware of is that a bright light in the background behind the ball can throw off it’s tracking. For example, if you’re inside and there’s a bright lamp behind you it can cause issues with the upcoming scan step.

5) Open the DribbleUp App

You’ll see something that looks like the picture below To get started, tap the “Workouts” tile and you’ll be taken into the library of workouts that DribbleUp has built.

You’ll see a big list of workouts but click on the one called “Basic Playlist” to get started.

6) Soccer Drill Prep

As you go through the drills, the app grades you on how well you perform them.  You can set what level you want to be graded on – Easy, Medium, or Hard.

To start off it’s not a bad idea to choose the Easy setting for the playlist. Once you master that you can move onto Medium. It can be a bit discouraging if you start on the most difficult level and get poor marks the first time you use the app.

As you can see in the screenshots below you each playlist is made up of multiple drills. Tapping on the camera icon for each drill will show you a description of the drill and also a video demo of the drill being performed.  It’s a good idea to go through each drill in the playlist and watch the video first to understand how it works. This is because once the playlist begins, it will only show you the video once prior to each drill. For more complex drills, you may want to watch the video a few times before starting the playlist.

The images below give you an idea of some of the drills in the Basic playlist. One thing to note, it may appear as though you can set a different level for each drill in the playlist but you cannot. The level you choose applies to all the drills in the playlist.











Here is an example of the trainer demonstrating one of the drills for you.


Once you’re comfortable with the moves in the playlist you’re ready to press the Start button.

7) Start the Playlist

Once you press the green Start button you’ll see this screen, asking you to scan the DribbleUp ball. You hold your ball so that it shows up inside the circle on the screen and once the ball is scanned the playlist will begin.

You’ll know right away if the scan didn’t work because the virtual cones that show on the screen will be red.  Typically the virtual cones are green and only turn red if you go outside of them.

If the cones are red immediately, tap the screen again and you’ll be given the option to either Quit or Resume.  Choose the Quit option – then press the Start button and scan your ball again.  If you’re consistently getting red cones make sure you don’t have a bright light source behind you that’s confusing the app.

Each drill will show you a video demo and then give you a few seconds to get ready before it starts a timer.  When the timer begins that means the app has started grading your skills.

7) Review Your Performance

After you’ve completed the playlist the app shows you a score of how you did on each drill. The drills are graded on four different aspects:


Speed – Execute as quickly as possible while keeping control

Cone Control – Keep the cones green

Consistency – Each touch should take the same length & time

Pattern – Match the pattern of touches for the drill.

You can tap the screen to read more about your score for each one of those areas.

Player Progress

DribbleUp also has a Progress tile that shows a history of all the skills sessions you’ve gone through. This is a great measure of technical development because players can see their progress over time. Ideally they’ll see themselves getting higher scores if they consistently use the app to train those same playlists.

At some point when they move up to the next level of difficulty it’s likely the scores will dip again as they work to master the additional attention to detail.


Awards & Leaderboard 

One of the ways that Dribble Up motivates players to train harder is via the Rewards tile which unlocks different awards as you progress through your skills training. You reach different levels by earning points. It has multiple Levels such as “Rising Star”, “Going Pro”, “First Cut”, etc. Some of the levels will turn the ball tracker a different color which is a neat visual way to show progress.

Another common motivational tool that has proven successful in many sports is the Leaderboard. This view compares you to other players using DribbleUp and has been particularly effective in getting my kids to consistently train with the app.

Juggling & Shooting

There are two ways to work on juggling using the DribbleUp app. The first is the Juggling tile. This section actually tracks how many consecutive juggles you’re able to successfully string together. The juggle counter only counts touches that are below the knees so this method requires more control.

The second method of juggling is using the Freestyle mode. This feature doesn’t keep track of your juggles but it will record a video of your juggling so you can share it with others. A fun way to use the Freestyle feature is to juggle in a group and capture the video.

The shooting feature is not yet available in the app but is scheduled to release sometime first quarter of next year.

DribbleUp Support

If you have issues with a ball itself let us know and we’ll get you a replacement. If you have a problem using the ball email us and we’ll help you work through it.

If you have a problem with the app report it to the DribbleUp team. We had a strange bug in beta mode where the Slap Cut Squirt drill set our kids points back to zero. Needless to say they weren’t very pleased but the Dribble Up team got the bug fixed right away and corrected the whole issue quickly. So if you find a bug in the app the team will fix it right away.

If you have feature requests can also submit those to the DribbleUp team but those aren’t guaranteed to be made. The developers of the app are eager to improve the experience but I had a few suggestions that weren’t implemented because they solved the problem we were encountering in a different way than suggested. So if you have recommendations or enhancement requests please pass them to the DribbleUp team for consideration.

If you have any other questions that aren’t addressed here please leave a comment below or send us an email to


DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball Package

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Why You Should Let Your Soccer Player Watch More TV

Watching professionals at work is a fabulous way to learn the intricacies of the beautiful game called soccer or football.

As with any team sport there is a LOT you can teach a young mind about the game but most coaches only have a few hours a week to train their players. To make sure their players fully grasp a concept coaches plan their practices to train their kids on one main concept per training session.

So if your daughter or son practices twice a week their coach only has time to teach or reinforce one or two key concepts that week. Coaches have many more things they’d like to teach your kid than they’re able to squeeze into their small weekly allotted window of time.

And that is why, if you want your kid to be a better player, you should let them watch more TV. Of course not just any TV, they should watch soccer!

Can Watching Help My Player Get Better?

It makes sense if you think about all the things your kids learn just from watching you or older siblings. They may not understand why it is that what you’re doing works but they see your actions and they see results.

There are many different ways to watch a soccer game. As my son will tell you I like to watch a game with the remote close by so I can rewind and slow-mo key moments during a game to make some coaching points. I actually like to rewind 30 seconds before a key a point and show them the build up and how certain player actions contributed to an outcome in the game. At first he’d groan and pretend to listen as I pointed those things out but as he got older he really did start listening and hopefully connecting some dots in his brain.

Of course you don’t need to pause and analyze a soccer match to learn from it. After you watch enough games you can see patterns where players do similar things in certain situations. Your kid may not know tactically why that overlapping run works but they see the pros do it with success and try it in a game or practice.

You don’t have to sit down and analyze a game with your daughter. Soccer may not be your thing and you feel like you have nothing to offer them. That’s just fine but they can still learn by just watching the professional game.

Of course another benefit is that seeing the game played well can be really exciting and help them grow their love of the game.  For example, this picture is of Borussia Dortmund playing Schalke and they went up 4-0 in the first 29 minutes, pretty impressive.  Then eventually Schalke came back and scored 4 unanswered goals to tie it up, quite an exciting match!

Soccer on TV

Finding good soccer to watch is a lot easier to be than it used to. Back in the dark ages you couldn’t get any soccer on TV but now you can watch English Premier League on NBC Sports and Bundesliga on Fox Sports. If your cable package doesn’t offer those you can always find highlights on YouTube. Of course highlights aren’t as instructional as a whole game but they can be a good way to get your player interested in watching soccer.

If you can’t get your daughter to sit through a whole game a good alternative are shows like Premier League Goal Zone that feature highlights of the games from the league.  One benefit is that they feature the goals which are an exciting part of the game. Fans who watch the game regularly appreciate many other parts – such as great tackles, skillful buildup play, 1v1 attacking & defending, but even someone who’s just started watching soccer will appreciate a fantastic goal. Another benefit of highlight shows such as these is that they offer discussions on certain parts of the game and the impact the players actions have. For example, in the video below the commentators provide analysis of the buildup to a goal.

Another interesting option is that the NCAA puts videos of it’s college soccer games online.  We have enough professional options to watch that I don’t usually checkout those games till it gets down to the Final 4 and you have the best teams playing. However if you can’t get any professional games these would be another option:

This can also be fun if any of these college teams are in your area because then you might get to know some of the players and be able to go watch a few in person.

How Do I get My Kid to Watch Soccer?

I remember the first time I took my son to watch a professional soccer game, it wasn’t long after the Kansas City Wizards re branded to Sporting KC and it turned out to be waaaay too early. My friend and I enjoyed the game but the only thing our sons enjoyed was running up and down the steps in the stadium and getting snacks.

This is something that’s easier to do if you’re already a fan of the soccer because you’ll probably be watching games yourself and your kid might eventually show some interest. I’m sure the age where they show interest varies, just try not to make watching the game a “chore”. The whole point of the sport is for it to be fun but if you start lecturing about key points of the game too early you could turn them off watching it.

Give it a try and if they don’t seem interested then try it again when they get a little older.

If you’re not a soccer fan and your kid just picked up the game this will be harder for you. If they really like soccer and want to get better it’s worth putting in a little effort to having them watch professional games.

Here’s a few ways to get your kid watching more soccer:

Watch a Certain Player
If they already have a favorite team they’ll probably have a few favorite players so just tune in to have them watch. One great way to help them find a favorite player if they don’t have one, or even learn about other exciting players, is to get them some soccer cards or soccer stickers.

Topps and Donruss, who you might know from baseball cards, now have some good soccer card sets. An Italian company named Panini has some pretty neat soccer albums and sticker collections and they role out new ones for tournaments like the Euro Cup, Copa America, or the World Cup.

It’s been a little harder to find good soccer cards for my daughter but I’ve managed to get her some from the US Women’s National Team. One player that’s really grabbed the attention of kids around the U.S. is the young and talented Christian Pulisic – you can watch him play for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Fantasy Soccer
My son has always loved watching Premier League games early Saturday or Sunday morning but this is the first year we entered the Premier League fantasy league and it’s been a lot of fun. Our teams aren’t great but earning points for players performance has really gotten him into the games.

I know Fantasy sports can take up a lot of time but we’re not playing to win our league but rather not be in the bottom 3 (kind of like the actual teams in the EPL). We don’t invest a lot of time into it. Sadly there have been days where we’ve started an injured player who didn’t even see the field and we earned no points. But every weekend my son logs in with great anticipation to see how many points he’s earned. We definitely follow it even more closely than before we picked a fantasy team.

It’s also fun to give each other a hard time when your picks do poorly. For example, the very first game of the season two of my best players got red cards which plummeted me to the bottom of the league quickly and my son got a real kick out of it.

Despite all of that we did manage to climb into the top 20 of our league (briefly) and reach the top 1.5 millions players out of a total of 5.5 million.


Interactive Viewing
We created some Soccer Bingo cards that have been fun for our youngest kids and have gotten them watching a few games with us. The premise is simple – every person gets a card that has a soccer specific technique, tactic, or play in each space. All my kids watched a premier leage game together, which had never happened before. The youngest were asking about what each of the spaces meant and I helped them recognize events in the game.

One thing we found that was fun was to give each player more than one soccer bingo card to fill out. This meant more action for each kid which kept them engaged. We also made the rule that you could only put on one marker per event. So if you had the space named “give and go” on two boards you could only mark it off on one at a time

Playing is Better than Watching
Of course any time your daughter or son has the chance to play soccer rather than just watching it I’d always opt for playing. We’ve had many times where practices or games conflicted with a game time and we pretty much always chose to get the touches rather than watch the pros. A DVR or Youtube makes this a lot easier. In fact sometimes we turn on recorded Premier leage games while our kids put on all their soccer gear in the morning to get their “soccer brains” going.

How Do You Know it’s Working?

That’s a tricky question to answer because it’s not like your kid will watch a few professional soccer games and then suddenly own the soccer field.  Learning from watching players and building a love of the game is a gradual process. A first good sign will be if your kid starts asking to watch games or jumping on Youtube to watch highlights in their free time.  The important thing is to get them excited about watching a team or a player and eventually some of that soccer they watch will soak in.

That’s one of the many reasons I was so disappointed the U.S. didn’t qualify for the World Cup this summer. The excitement it generates for the sport around the country is contagious. Going to giant watch parties with hundreds of other fans is such a neat experience and I’m sad all the youth players in the U.S. will miss out this time round.  However, we are going to adopt a team or two in the tournament and cheer for them this summer.

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Zepp Soccer Tracker App Review

Do you ever feel lazy as you sit on the sideline sipping your coffee and watching your kid race up and down the soccer field? Often I’ll go for a run during their training session or game warmup but I know they’re still getting a far better workout than I am.

No question about it, fitness is an important aspect of soccer. Just look at the stats from our Zepp Soccer dashboard, about 25 miles covered in a few weeks of games.

One year we had a mom who told us that her son really liked the sport of soccer but he just didn’t like to run and was thinking about playing baseball instead. As a soccer coach I hated the thought of having a kid leave the sport but it was hard to argue with her premise, if you don’t like to run then soccer is going to be a challenge. On the flip side, if you really love to play soccer then as you train and play you’ll get in great shape without it feeling like work.

As I researched smart soccer balls I came across a soccer tech article that examined the best soccer tracking devices on the market today. Many of them were expensive but the Zepp Play Soccer tracker caught my eye as one that could be a good option for a youth soccer player – kind of like a Fitbit for soccer. We’ve used it with good results for the last month of the season. It’s been helpful as both a soccer tracking device and also as an interesting way to capture game video.

Soccer Fitness Tracking

As soon as the game’s over and the post-game huddle breaks up my son wants to come over and sync up his wearable soccer tracker with the app on my phone.

How far he ran, how much he sprinted, how many kicks, his fastest sprint are all shown in the game overview.  So far we’ve tracked 11 games and a few training sessions and after each one he’s checking his stats right away.

One of the ways I gauge success for a soccer training session or tool is whether it increases the player’s motivation and excitement for the game. Obviously they should love the game itself and be motivated to play hard simply because they enjoy it – but it doesn’t hurt to give them extra things to get excited about. This soccer tracker definitely does that for my kids.

In addition to being just a neat gadget this wearable does give the player some interesting things to think about in terms of their soccer fitness. As you can see the app shows the numbers for individual games and also a summary in the user’s profile across all games.

The numbers for one game alone are interesting but they tell you more when you use it over a season and can compare one game to your typical performance. Of course every game is different with varying amounts of playing time per match, potentially different positions played, and unique game flow depending on the opponent. So you’re not getting apples to apples across games but it does give you a baseline and the more games you use it for the more useful the data is.

Here are a few ways the tracker can help players set goals & improve:

Improving Weak Foot

How many times have you heard coaches and parents groan as a player receives a ball in a dangerous attacking position but then take the time to shift the ball off their weak foot and end up missing their opportunity? Putting a tracker on both the left and right leg will show the difference in the dominance of one foot for most players. We haven’t done that yet but have another tracker on the way.

One of the challenges of getting your kid to use their weak foot is that they perform worse in training or games when they use it. A shanked shot or a weak or off target pass frustrates them and their teammates and they make a mental note to use their strong foot the next time. Basically the benefits of using their weak foot aren’t obvious, the motivation to use it is low.

However, if you can track how much they use each foot at training and in games then they do have a reason to use their weak foot. They can look at their stats over time and see the percentage of that weak foot climb.  Now setting a goal to “use your left foot” more is trackable and rewardable.

Moving Off the Ball

I know my son’s coach will point out when a player makes a pass then stands there and watches the kid they passed it to rather than continuing their run and staying in the play. Good soccer players spend a lot of the game moving without the ball, getting in good positions to setup the next play when their team is in possession.

Studies of players at the highest levels have shown that during a 90 minute soccer game most players only have the ball at their feet a small percentage of the overall game. What they should be doing when they don’t have the ball but their team does is getting into a position to help with the next play. Usually that doesn’t mean standing still or walking, it means moving.

So we compared the amount of time walking to the amount of time running for the 11 games we tracked so far. As you can see it was a range from 21-34% with an average 27% of the time spent walking in a game. One rough way to track whether a player is moving off the ball is to see if they can get that percentage of time walking reduced each game.  Of course time spent defending impacts the total but even on defense players should be moving to keep the shape of their formation even if they’re not directly involved in actively defending.

You can see why just tracking one game isn’t that helpful but looking at numbers across a group of games can show players where they can improve.  You also want to use percentages when doing your comparison because the actual units will vary between each game.

Effort in Training

How many time have you dropped your daughter or son off at practice and said “play hard” as they climb out of the car? Some kids don’t need any motivation to go hard during practice but some players could use it. It’s hard to compare effort at practice based only on these numbers because each training session is different.  A kid could get way more or much less movement than previous practices just based on what the coach is working on.

This is where it would be great to have each kid wearing one so you could compare effort for the same practice relative to the other players but most of us won’t have that opportunity. Even though varying practices mean it’s not a perfect measure of effort from week to week it can still be a general measure of how hard your kid is working at practice. Let’s face it, even just knowing that they’re wearing the tracker and being measured can motivate them to work harder.

Soccer Game Video

Another neat aspect of the Zepp Play Soccer device and app is the game video functionality.  We didn’t get it because of that feature but it’s been kind of useful and fun.

During each game you track you can open the video function of the app and capture highlights of the game. The clips are only 10 seconds long so its not a full game recording. After you take a clip you can tag it with what you just captured.

The options available to choose from are:

  • Goal
  • Shot
  • Dribble
  • Pass
  • Defense
  • Save
  • Opponent Goal
  • Yellow Card
  • Red Card
  • Other

Room for Improvement

I do like that you can mark a video with a tag describing what you captured but I think it’s missing some tags like:

  • Offsides
  • Tackle
  • Free kick
  • Cross

I know that Tackle is part of Defense and Cross could be a Pass but it would be nice if we could be more specific with the tags. Even better, it would be great if we could assign the videos our own tags.

Another thing I’d improve about the video part of the app is to have a “Discard” option. So after taking a video clip, instead of tagging and saving it you could just Discard it.  A great example is when play stops for a free kick and you press the record button to capture the shot.  If the whistle is delayed by the ref moving back a wall and you stop recording you don’t want to keep that video around, Discard would be perfect.

Video Highlights

One of the cool things about the video app is that it allows you to easily create a highlight video. It actually creates one for you automatically from each game using several of the videos you took but I haven’t used that default one very often.  You can go back and select the videos you’d like to include to create another highlight reel, which is nice.  The best way I’ve found to make one is to filter the videos based on the tag and then include all films of a certain event. For example, here’s one we created using the Goals tag.

Obviously it’s not a professionally edited video compilation but what’s neat about it is that the highlight video is really easy to create and share.  As busy soccer parents we have too many pictures and videos that don’t see the light of day. It’s nice to be able to quickly create and share video highlights – it automatically adds the little intro with the date/time and game score.  I’ve noticed some of them actually add the fitness stats at the end of the video as well, not sure sure what I configured to make it do that.

Game Timeline

Another cool feature of the app is that it creates a timeline of all the videos you take. So as you scroll through the videos if you’re looking for a play you remember happened in the second half you can use the timeline to find it more easily.

As you can see in the screenshot it lists the video and the time into the match it was taken. Another useful feature of the timeline is that when you start the game in your app you can actually share the URL of the timeline with others.

So if there are folks who can’t be at the game they can follow along on your timeline.  The Zepp soccer app uploads the videos into the cloud from your phone so the timeline isn’t updated in realtime.  It is limited by how fast your phone can upload the videos but in my tests the timeline updated pretty quickly.  If a parent or grandparent can’t make the game they can usually follow the score on an app like TeamSnap but this is neat because it has the video highlights they can see as well.

After the game you can access the videos on your phone or also in your member area of the Zepp website. One thing I don’t like is that when you’re looking at a video on the website you can’t easily go to the next video, you have to close it and then open the next. I wish it just had a “Next Video” button kind of like you can do when watching videos uploaded into your Google Drive.

The other thing I wish you could do is delete videos that you no longer want either via the app or website but I haven’t been able to figure out a way to do that. Another item I’d add to the video wishlist would be the ability to make highlight videos across multiple games. For example, it would be great if you could make a highlight video of all the events tagged Goal across a series of games.

Soccer Tracker App Setup

One thing to note after purchasing the Zepp Soccer tracker is that you need to give it a full charge before using it the first time.  This can be tricky if a kid gets it and wants to use the tracker right away.  You could even open it up, charge it, and then put it back in the package before giving it to them. I think it took ours a few hours to charge that first time.

It also comes with a Left and Right sticker to help you remember which device goes with which leg if you have two. Once the device is charged you can open up the Zepp Play Soccer app on your phone and pair the tracker with your app. There’s a QR code on the back of the device that you scan and that pairs it with your phone. You slide the device into the leg sleeve that’s also included in the box, it has two different sizes so the tracker can be used for youth or adults.

DO NOT wash the leg sleeve with the tracker inside. We made that mistake, the leg sleeve accidentally went into the wash with the device in it and we learned the tracker is not washing machine friendly.  We contacted the folks at Zepp and they gave us a discount on a replacement tracker but it was a bummer having to spend that money and not end up with two, one for the left and one for the right.


Soccer Tracking

To get started you select “Quick Game” in the app, enter your game info, and click the “I Am Ready” button. At that point it looks for the device and once located you’re able to start the game.

When we played 9v9 the phone could detect the tracker all the way on the other side of the field first try. At the end of the season he guest played in an 11v11 tournament so I was farther away from him when the game started. I had to hit refresh a few times in the app to get it to connect to the device but then it was off an running.

The soccer tracker doesn’t update the data real time from the device to the phone during the game. After the game is over you indicate it’s finished in the app and it syncs the data from the device into your phone.

There’s also the ability to start a training session in the app, they call it a “Practice”. You can actually start both a team practice or a team game if there are multiple kids on your team that have the soccer tracker but we haven’t tested out that functionality yet.

Overall I’d say it’s been a great investment for our son’s soccer experience. As I mentioned, the more games and training you use it for the more valuable the fitness tracking data becomes. He likes it because it’s a cool gadget and he loves going through the stats after each game. What would be really great would be getting other kids on his team to use it so he could “compete” against them for things like weak foot usage and time spent moving w/out the ball. Although until we have other teammates using the tracker it’s great that he can compete against himself and work to beat his own metrics. The video features have also been nice for a busy soccer parent for organizing soccer clips and making highlight videos to share.

Get one for both the right and left foot in our “No Weak Foot” package.