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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 Username and 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. We have a different account for each of our kids and once you setup the accounts you can switch between them in the app.

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 “Daily Workout” tile to see any homework assigned to you via our virtual skills team, by your coach, or through the Dribble Up daily skills.

The default playlists from DU Everyday will have simple 2 minute playlists with 3 or 4 drills each. If you’re part of our virtual skills team there will be a variety of playlists. The playlists listed first will be the longest and most complex, the farther you go down the list the shorter and simpler they get. For instructions on how to access those playlists read about the Soccer Stripes Squad.

Below the “Daily Workout” tile you’ll see a tile called “Ball Control”. Tapping on that tile will take you to the library of workouts that DribbleUp has built. The drills are organized in order of simplest to more complex labeled – Novice, Rising Star, Pro, First Team, Elite, MVP, World Class.

The first time you open the app or click on a playlist you’ll probably see a dialog that says “Setup your first program”, go ahead and click the green “Setup” button. This will download some of the videos and playlists to your smart ball app so that you can use the app to work on the soccer drills even when you’re not on the network or on wi-fi.

6) Soccer Drill Prep

A good way to get started before jumping right into one of the workouts is to tap the “Ball Control” icon and choose one of the soccer drills from the library like Foundations or Sole Flicks.

Once you tap on a drill it will show you a preview video of the drill. The app shows you the trainer doing the foot skill and then zooms in and shows you a slo-mo shot of the drill so you can see how it works. Once you’re familiar with the move you can tap the green “Start” button and it’ll ask you to scan the ball as we showed you above.

This is a nice way to start because it’s only 1 drill and gets you used to the Dribble Up app and how it tracks the ball. There’s no time pressure of moving onto the next drill, you can keep playing with the same drill again until you’re comfortable with it and have the hang of how the smart ball app works.

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. Drop your ball on the floor and roll it with your foot so 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”, “MVP”, “Corner Kick”, “Gold Star”, “Pitch Legend”, etc.

Some of the levels will turn the ball tracker a different color (purple, green, yellow, orange, red), which is a neat visual way to show progress. As you train more your ball tracker will change colors as you move up the Levels.

Another common motivational tool that has proven successful in many sports is the Leaderboard. As you can see in this graphic you access it from the main screen by tapping the Leaderboards tile. This view compares you to other players using DribbleUp and has been particularly effective in getting my kids to consistently train with the app. There’s something about a player list and where you rank that keeps you coming back into the app and wanting to move up higher relative to the other players.  Of course the only way you can do that is to train more!

Everyone sees the Global leaderboard but if you’re a part of one or more virtual teams, like our Soccer Stripes Squad, you’ll see multiple leaderboards and your rank on each one. The leaderboard has two different views, you can see where you stand for the current week and also “All-Time”.

So if you’ve logged hundreds of hours with Dribble Up since you downloaded the smart ball app you might rank pretty high on the “All-Time” leaderboard but if you’ve had a busy week and haven’t done much training you could be towards the bottom of the weekly leaderboard.

Juggling & Shooting

The Ball Control feature is probably the most used feature of the smart ball app. The library of drills is pretty big and the combination of playlists of drills can keep players improving for a  long time on their footwork with a variety of different drills each day or week.

However, many users waited eagerly for the Shooting and Juggling features when the app first came out and we’re happy to say now that they’re both available.

As you can see here you can access both Shooting and Juggling from the main screen by tapping on their respective tiles. The Juggling tile 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. We did a juggling app review and also offer some tips on how you can start off simply and get better at juggling over time.

The Dribble Up shooting app feature requires more setup and on that page we go into detail on how to set up and use the shooting functionality. It’s a fun way to compete against your family or teammates and also a good way to get more consistent about the placement of the ball when you shoot.

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 support@soccerstripes.com

 

DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball Package

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How the DribbleUp Smart Soccer Ball Wrecked My Kids Bedtime

Once upon a time there was a kid who didn’t like going to bed….

I’m sure you’ve never been a part of that story before right? As if my kids needed another excuse not to go to bed, our DribbleUp smart ball came in the mail today.

Sleep or Soccer?

Finishing up our nightly pre-bedtime reading ritual my son asked “Can we tryout that new ball, just real quick”?  Normally, “wait till tomorrow” would have been the answer but we’d been waiting to get the smart ball for a while and I was just as curious as him to see how it worked. It was just sitting there in the box, waiting to be tested. A tantalizing mix of soccer and technology, the siren song couldn’t be ignored.

Earlier in the evening, I’d gotten the TestFlight invite from the team at DribbleUp. The smart ball app was still in development and wasn’t in the App Store yet so we needed a special invite to access the drills.  As you can see in the pic the camera on my old and busted iPhone 5 was in no shape for any augmented reality app so I’d installed DribbleUp on my wife’s phone.

While I snuck downstairs to grab her phone as she graded papers my son unboxed the DribbleUp ball and we met back upstairs to login to the app and get the phone setup in the stand.

Soccer Drills

I guess being a studious kid, he picked the “Homework” tile first after opening the app and went to work on the “Right Foot Circuit” playlist. That playlist consisted of 5 different footwork drills, each 20 seconds long:

  • Right Foot Side to Side Rolls
  • Right Foot Outside Inside
  • Right Foot Roll Tap
  • Right Foot Front Back Rolls
  • Foot Stalls Right Foot

Each one had a text description but more importantly a video that described the drill and also demonstrated it. I was taking mental notes as we used the smart ball for the first time and sent off an email later on with some of my suggestions. One of them was that the preview video have the ability to “loop” so the user can watch the skill and practice it until they get it.

Now it shows the video once and you have to tap it to watch it again. While you’re learning the skill it would be nice if it repeated the video demonstration until the player got it down. Not a big deal for the basic footwork but would be helpful for the more advanced ones.

Smart Ball Tracking

When we tapped the Start button for a playlist we were prompted to scan in the smart ball. I talked a little bit about that step in other posts but basically the ball tracking is done with augmented reality tracking of the surface of the ball rather than other smart balls that have a sensor inside the ball.

So you hold the ball up in front of the camera and position it into the circle you see on the screen and the app reads the ball, kind of like a QR code for a soccer ball it seems. Once the scan is successful it gives you some time to get ready and then starts the timing/tracking of the skill.

Virtual Trainer

Once we chose the playlist and scanned the ball the first skill drill in the playlist begins. The video showed the trainer doing the skill and then the timer starts. Right away some up tempo music kicked off, which at first surprised me as being odd but as we continued through the night it grew on me.  Almost like a mental cue that you’re in training mode.

Kind of funny to imagine our U12 boys doing the 1000 touches warmup at practice to music and switching to a different foot skill every time the song changed.  But in the context of the app, I like the music.

As you can see in the picture, the app superimposes two cones on the screen that you need to stay between as you do the footwork.  The cones start off green but turn red if the ball “hits” or passes the virtual markers. (Apologies for the fuzzy image, a product of my damaged iPhone camera. After cracking the glass, it slipped into a cup of orange juice on the way to soccer practice and the camera has never been the same since.)

The trainer gives you audio cues as you go based on your performance. I figured they were random sound bites but as the night went on it seemed they were tied to my son’s actions. I posed that to the DribbleUp team in my later email and was glad to hear that the app is giving real time feedback to how the drill is being performed:

  • “Not good enough”
  • “Needs to be better”
  • “Stay focused”
  • “Pick up the pace”

The app moves from skill to skill in the playlist with a short pause between each one. You don’t have to scan the ball between each of the skills, only at the start of your playlist.

Soccer Skill Rating

After he finished the playlist the app gave my son a rating of how he had performed for each skill.  As you can see in the screenshot it scores player skill based on 4 factors:

  • Speed
  • Cone Control
  • Consistency
  • Pattern

One thing I didn’t like is that you couldn’t drill down into each of those factors to learn more detail about how each was being measured. That’s another piece of feedback I gave – allow us to tap on each factor to learn more about it.

He moved on to the “Left Foot Circuit” followed by the “Basic Playlist” without any prompting from me. I was sitting there thinking, who is this kid – working on his left foot?

You know how your kid always seems to listen better for other adults than they do for you? Well if I tell my son to work on his left foot he kind of groans and says sure Dad.  But the Virtual Trainer in the DribbleUp app tells him to “work harder” on his “Left Foot Roll Tap” and he grits his teeth and pushes on. Wicked! I wonder if it works for Math homework too…

The “Basic Playlist” was longer:

  • Side Taps
  • Ball Steps
  • Alternate Sole Flicks (I think that’s the one they showed in the Kickstarter video)
  • Left Foot Side to Side Rolls
  • Right Foot Side to Side Rolls
  • Right Foot Outside Inside
  • Left Foot Outside Inside
  • Right Foot Roll Tap
  • Left Foot Roll Tap

 

Each for 20 seconds.  By the end of that he was a little winded and needed a break so I jumped in and tried out a Triangle Playlist.  I didn’t do so hot, scoring a D overall. My son laughed at the old man’s score until he tried it and actually did worse than I did. As we got into Playlists other than the first few listed in Homework it seemed the tracking was a little off.

That was another piece of feedback that I shared with the team. For some playlists the tracking was fine but for others it was a bit frustrating.  We shouldn’t have been getting perfect but we were definitely getting lower scores than we should have.  For example, on the “Roll Sole Sole” he was scored with -33% Speed, 89% cone control, 10% consistency, and 0% pattern even after doing it several times and improving as he went. I let them know which playlists were buggy so hopefully those will get fixed.

Bedtime

There are a lot of drills and playlists and we might have been up all night if my wife hadn’t finally come looking for her iPhone. I should have known “real quick” would turn into “much later”. She wasn’t happy he was up so late – and “what was he doing playing soccer inside”? Of course he said it was my idea and I blamed it on him for being so eager to try it and that ended our first night of DribbleUp.

DribbleUp Pros

  • Gets him in the habit of keeping his head up. Instead of looking down at the ball, he’s looking at the screen while doing the footwork. Of course you won’t have a screen on the field but I like the habit of not looking at the ball.
  • Virtual cones force him to work in a tight space.  Like the cone setups for Beast Mode soccer – not as in depth but enforcing constraints that help improve precision in touch.
  • Big library of drills and playlists to keep it fresh and challenging.
  • Interested in the ability to have homework drills

DribbleUp Cons

  • Buggy tracking for some playlists. I’m sending the buggy ones off so hopefully those will get fixed.
  • Fixed duration. It would be nice if we could adjust how long the playlists and drills ran for.
  • Scanning between drills. Seems like Playlists are the way to go, you only have to scan the ball at the start and not between each drill b/c that could get old.
  • No juggling. The Kickstarter talked about the ability to track juggles but that’s not in the app. Hopefully that’s an upcoming feature.
iPhone HDMI TV
iPhone HDMI TV

Overall I really like how excited the app gets my son to train.  We’ll see if his enthusiasm continues over time. We haven’t looked at the “gamification” of the app yet, how you move up levels and leaderboards. I imagine my kids will be really into that if it’s well done.

Something else I noticed on the Kickstarter project was a video of a player hooking the app up and seeing it on their TV. While I was waiting for the ball to arrive I inquired with the team about how that works and they pointed me to what cables to use to make that work.  So I ordered a HDMI iPhone cable that will let me mirror the app to our TV. Excited to test out that experience when it arrives.  Overall I’d say our first test of a smart soccer ball was a success!

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DribbleUp Experiment

The smart soccer ball from DribbleUp came onto my radar via Twitter today when I saw Tristan Tilllette share a video of his kids with the ball. I’m a sucker for innovative products and a soccer fan so the combination was too intriguing to pass up.

I scoured the details of the Kickstarter product page and the more I read the more exciting the idea sounded. It seems to have the potential to be a really awesome training tool and the fact that creators (Mark and Eric Forkosh) had already delivered a successful version of a smart basketball gave it more legs.

DribbleUp vs. iSoccer

We’d used iSoccer in the past as a team and with my son individually and it was helpful but a few things about it weren’t ideal. Each drill was scored differently so the kid or parent had to understand the scoring of each drill and that was very inconsistent. Basically it made it hard for a player to do it on their own since they needed someone keeping track of their performance while they did the drill. It was also self-reporting so every time you did the drill someone had to enter in the scores.

We did use iSoccer at practice and run kids through the drills off to the side to get a baseline for their technical ability at the start of the season. You could tell which kids were active on it even if they didn’t enter their scores b/c their ability to maneuver the ball in training and games improved throughout the season. At on point soccer.com offered rewards for progressing through the levels but that program was eventually discontinued and interest in the app dwindled.

Motivation to Train

The reason I was first interested in iSoccer and why DribbleUp got my attention is that some kids are driven to get better on their own like these kids:

However many kids don’t have that same level of determination and drive. If I go out with my kids they’ll play all night and work on their foot skills with me – but if I’m inside and suggest they go out and work on their turns they just give me a look and quietly disappear to play Legos or read a book.

I get it, just working on footwork isn’t particularly exciting for most players. I love when I can get my kids into a Beast Mode workout but they definitely have to be in the right mood.

Jedi Mind Tricks and Soccer

I know what things my kids need to work on to improve but I want them to have fun while doing it – that’s the challenge for many parents and coaches. Some of the best teachers design lessons that help kids learn valuable skills without even realizing it. Some of my favorite coaches come up with drills that the kids see as just fun games but they’re actually learning important fundamentals of soccer.

Finding that balance between getting them on the ball and making sure they see it as fun (not a chore) isn’t easy. That’s why I was really hopeful when I first read about DribbleUp.

Making it a Game

My kids are part of the iPad generation, they love anything that has to do with an app or a game so I had a feeling they’d take to DribbleUp right away. Not only are they mesmerized by the digital realm but they also love “earning points” so I figured the gamification of training would be right up their alley.

 

That’s why I put in my Kickstarter order, looks like I’m supporter #211.

 

Heading to bed feeling hopeful and excited!