It took years of testing and refinement before SOLIDshot was ready to be introduced to the public in the summer of 2016. Part of that process meant taking the smart sleeve and its coordinating phone app out onto the basketball court.
And who better to take the smart sleeve for a test drive than the future generation of basketball pros?
SOLIDshot teamed up with the University of Maryland men’s basketball team to see just how much NCAA players' free throw percentage could improve once they started practicing with the smart sleeve.
The result? SOLIDshot not only helped to increase free throw consistency in players who used it more than those who didn’t, but also boosted confidence in the players that used it and encouraged the coaching staff to want to use the sleeve on a regular basis.
"SOLIDshot really helped our players shoot with confidence," University of Maryland men’s basketball head coach Mark Turgeon said of the study. "Our free throw percentage went up six-percent as a team, which helped us win many close games."
During three weeks of preseason play, a select group of players used SOLIDshot in the UMD practice facility. These athletes participated in the same shooting drills in the same environment as those players who practiced without it. The only difference in those practices for players wearing SOLIDshot came from the instant audio and visual feedback that comes from using the smart sleeve and coordinating phone app—feedback on the elevation of the player’s arm, the bend of his elbow and the snap in his wrist. UMD assistant coach John Auslander, who ran the study with the players, spoke in a video for the site and mentioned how much the sleeve and app "helps (the players) focus on all of the little details of their shots."
Paying attention to those little details produced big return. In comparing stats via ESPN.com, the players who practiced using the SOLIDshot system saw greater rise in their free throw percentages from the 2014-15 season to the following 2015-16 season.
In addition to calculating and correcting, the smart sleeve also gives positive feedback. When players achieve the right arm angle and wrist snap in their shot, SOLIDshot alerts the player that they did something right, encouraging repetition. Auslander is a fan of the "psychology" behind using the smart sleeve and app. "When it’s buzzing them, telling them 'good job,' they can really get into a rhythm and they can start to get a feel for what their ultimate shot is."
One of the most positive aspects to come out of the study was finding out that this isn't just a "one-and-done" system either. Auslander acknowledged that SOLIDshot serves a purpose throughout the course of a season.
"Game to game, guys can get hot or get cold," he said. "All we have to do is put the sleeve back on. We have their numbers locked in, and we can get them improving their shot and getting it back to where it was when it was at its best."
Check back in next week for more on what was revealed when SOLIDshot visited University of Maryland.