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Shooting Strap Basketball Shooting Aid [Review]

Shooting Strap
Recommendation
The Shooting Strap Basketball Shooting Aid is not worth purchasing. From my experience, I found my left “ball placement” hand constantly fighting to help push the ball. Restraining that hand back for extensive periods of time did not train my left hand to stop doing it.

Several years later with hindsight, I found that the best method for improving my shot, and reducing the tendency for my left, non-shooting hand to affect my shot was by practicing the Pro Shot Shooting System featured on FocusedShooter.com. (The tips are free through a downloadable PDF)

Background
The Shooting Strap’s promise is to prevent you from shooting with two hands, which can be a bad habit formed in youth because it’s easier to add strength when the off-hand helps push the ball. The Strap is made (and aggressively shown to be made) in the USA, which after you look at it, you’ll be saying “It better be, because there is no way this costs more than a $1 to make.” It’s a simple polyester (I think) strap that ties your thumb so it can’t move. It works as long as you tighten it properly. I had to tighten the Strap so tight that it held my thumb (I am also double jointed) almost in reverse because I found that the thumb, even if given a little bit of room, would try to come out and push. After weeks of working with the Shooting Strap, however, I found no real decline in my left hand not making a push.

(Note: I initially reviewed Jay Wolf’s Basketball Shooting Strap nearly 4 years ago. I am revisiting the review and condensing it for easier consumption in this new article as well as reviewing what I wrote, removing biases with hindsight. For more of my basketball training product reviews, click here)

Shotloc Basketball Shooting Aid [Review]

Recommendation
The Shotloc, whether direct from Shotloc or SKLZ, is not worth purchasing. From my experience, I am not convinced that its spreading of fingers and putting space on the palm really had any positive long term “muscle memory” effect on my shooting. The product is not expensive at under $20, however, and if you feel you have very strong difficulty spreading your fingers or are helping a young child learn to shoot for the first time, I could see Shotloc helping.

Background
The Shotloc does a great job of making sure you follow-through on your shot. You basically have to because you can’t shoot unevenly with it on, it forces all of your fingers to fold together. If anything, using the Shotloc forces finger strength because to get a shot off, you have to push off with your fingertips. This makes the ball feel a little bit loose to me, and when you shoot from longer distance you really have to accelerate the spin on the ball coming off your fingertips to generate power.

So, while shooting with the Shotloc seems to create good habits, I could not see any real changes to my form and results after extensive training with it, and then playing without it. For more evidence and research into Shotloc’s effectiveness, see this research paper from the Sport Biomechanics Laboratory at the University of Manitoba, “The effectiveness of the ShotLoc training tool on basketball free throw performance and technique.

(Note: I initially reviewed the Shotloc nearly 4 years ago. I am revisiting the review and condensing it for easier consumption in this new article as well as reviewing what I wrote, removing biases with hindsight. For more of my basketball training product reviews, click here)

Unique Sports Dribble Specs [Basketball Training Review]

Unique Sports Dribble SpecsRecommendation
The Unique Sports Dribble Specs is worth purchasing. For less than $10, you get an easy to use device that, while unfashionable to wear, makes sure you cannot look at the ball while dribbling. From my experience, this is great for removing your dependency on looking at the ball, and is especially helpful for simulating game time situations.

Background
The Unique Dribble Specs is not specs at all. The black plastic pieces simply block your lower vertical vision so you can’t see the ball. Nonetheless, the Unique Dribble Specs work as intended – they are easy to use and do not cause injuries. I think they’re great to help with a dribble workout. They do, however, hold your sweat from your eyes, so when you take them off, all your collected sweat will drip down on your face when you remove it. Sweat burn in the eyes…

(Note: I initially reviewed the Dribble Specs nearly 4 years ago. I am revisiting the review and condensing it for easier consumption in this new article as well as reviewing what I wrote, removing biases with hindsight. For more of my basketball training product reviews, click here)

Star Wars Prequel Trilogy [L8wrtr Fan Edits, REVIEW]

Star Wars - Episode I: Shadow of the SithStar Wars - Episode II: The Republic DividedStar Wars - Episode III: Dawn of the Empire

I have no real love for the prequel trilogy, as discussed in the past. However, with Episode VII coming out in December and Ha having never seen the prequels, I wanted to find tolerable versions of the films that I could watch alongside her.

Enter the Fan Edits! In the past, I have seen the Phantom Edit, Mike Nichols’ edit of The Phantom Menace. However, he never released Episode III nor did HD versions of his edits, so I looked for a complete series in HD. After some research on Internet Fan Edit Database, I decided to check out l8wrtr’s set. The three edits are generally well regarded, receiving 8.9 / 9.0 /9.3 out of 10 from the community with at least 26 votes for each.

Having not seen the any of the prequels in, likely, at least 5 years, my memory wasn’t battling, trying to remember things that were taken out or adjusted.

My thoughts:

  1. They are all quite good. I kind of feel Episode 1 (renamed Shadow of the Sith) is a bit short, but as I discussed about the Phantom Edit 7 years ago, if you do not have additional content to work with, as the real director would, it can be difficult. The pace in Episode 1 is particularly quick; it feels like you’re going from intense scene to intense scene with no time to relax. This is true across all the episodes, however. E I and II are each 96 minutes, while E III is 112.
  2. Try to watch them without seeing what is removed or changed. After watching Episode I, I looked through the notes to understand the changes. This was a bad idea as it reminded me of all the negatives I hated. It’s better to enjoy these as the true versions and not know what else is out there (as Ha now does).
  3. They are rewatchable. In fact, I am fairly certain I will be using these as my definitive versions of the movies if I ever want to watch the prequels again.

I realize this isn’t quite a detailed review of what makes the edits good or not good, but it is hard to have such a discussion without spoilers. I think you are better off just watching them for yourself, assuming you are like me and find it difficult to watch George Lucas’ versions. Highly recommended.

Stephen Curry Team USA Jersey Review (AliExpress, Aimee Smith)

To reward myself for a recent 2nd place (but a cash prize!) finish at an innovation competition at Kellogg, I decided to buy myself a fake jersey. Normally I wouldn’t do this, at least not knowingly (damn you eBay!), but I wanted to look at the process of buying things from AliExpress (an Alibaba company), which helps Chinese vendors sell directly to international consumers. Prior to this, I had been curious about the quality of fake jerseys, and who made the best ones. You can find plenty of reviews of fake jerseys on YouTube, but sub-Reddits like http://www.reddit.com/r/sportsjerseys and http://www.reddit.com/r/basketballjerseys/ are also very useful.

I ended up deciding on a Stephen Curry Nike FIBA 2014 jersey, primarily because as far as I know, it was never sold to the public as Curry is signed to Under Armour. For the seller (there are a number of them), I chose “Aimee Smith”, who has great reviews both online and within the AliExpress storefront – as of my writing this post, she had received feedback from 10,299 people with 99.4% reporting positive transactions. This means about 10,237 people liked “her”, while just 62 people did not. I, for what it’s worth, also liked her.

Before going into the jersey , I’ll talk a bit more about the AliExpress experience:

https://i0.wp.com/style.aliunicorn.com/wimg/buyer/single/standard-definition-logo.png

  • Security: AliExpress is very easy to use – you do not need to worry about credit card security issues, or any other negative fears you may hold about buying from some “random” site in China. AliExpress (and Alibaba) is no random company – they have been doing this a long time, and you will see that in your shopping. AliExpress accepts all major credit cards (American Express, Visa, Mastercard) and also has a clear buyer protection policy. The website is no harder to use (and is likely easier) than any other American site that you like.
  • Responsiveness: It is very easy to ask sellers questions, and Aimee Smith in particular is very responsive. She answered all my questions in less than a day and often, within minutes (keep in mind the different time zones). On eBay, whether you get any responses at all is random based on seller. From my experience, eBay sellers response properly less than 50% of time.
  • Reviews: If you are fairly comfortable buying things on eBay or Amazon 3rd Party sellers, you will be fine on AliExpress. What I especially like about the service is that you can review the specific product from that seller. Thus, I could see what others felt about the specific Curry jersey I was buying from Aimee Smith. This makes sense for AliExpress since their products are not one-off goods (e.g. I only have one to sell, like my limited edition baseball card). This wouldn’t make as much sense for many small volume eBay sellers but it would for some and it would definitely make sense for many Amazon sellers.
  • Shipping / Tracking:  Assuming you get a good seller, AliExpress also does a great job of letting you know the status after you order. Even though you can check your order details on the site, however, the site never sends a detailed receipt via email

If you’re interested in AliExpress, I definitely say try it without fear, but do make sure you check for sellers with strong feedback before doing so, just as you would (I would hope) with purchases from eBay or Amazon 3rd party vendors.

On to the jersey!

I am happy with it. No complaints considering the price and fact that I cannot get (a major incentive to buy fake jerseys is when an authentic version is unavailable) a real one. The Curry jersey cost less than $22 shipped, and I received it in about 2.5 weeks (coming from China, after all) after ordering. If you are interested in fake jerseys, I would not hesitate to get one from Aimee Smith, and all the feedback online I have seen agree.

While I have not worn the jersey to play basketball in, the material is really soft. I am sure it does not have Dri-Fit or any other moisture-wicking technology built-in, but the jersey is light and I could see myself wearing it. In this sense, if you are normally someone who wears t-shirts for athletic wear, I would recommend this as an alternative. I bought a size small (I am 5’6, 140 lbs.) and I feel it was correctly sized.

To get into the details, let’s do a comparison of images from Getty Images,

455063814 455055924a Paul George authentic jersey auction on eBay,

and Nike Store images.clip_image0014clip_image001And for reference, my Stephen Curry Aimee Smith USA Jersey:

I imagine it might be tricky to compare all these images in this kind of vertical-line view, so I’ll summarize what I see as best as I can:

  1. For the USA lettering on the front, the authentic jerseys are flat (almost like a screen print integrated into the jersey material) and the borders around the letters are dark. On the Aimee Smith version, the borders are red, and the lettering is stitched.
  2. I believe the USA badge (on right chest of player above Nike symbol) on the authentics is printed on the jersey, while it is embroidered on the Aimee Smith.
  3. The placement and size of the “4” on the front match Getty images fairly well. There is no FIBA patch on the left clavicle, but some fake sellers have it.

Moving to the back and other components. This time, I will show Getty first, then the Aimee Smith and Paul George authentic alternating different parts.

455160982imageimageimageimageOther than the “4” on the back being too high relative to the Curry name, the back looks pretty good as well. While I could not tell how accurate the lettering was based on the Getty Images photo, comparing the Aimee Smith Curry to the Paul George authentic reveals that the “R” looks pretty close. Again, the Aimee Smith is more of a Swingman jersey in which all letters and numbers are stitched, which is not the case with the authentic. The jock tag at the bottom front of the jersey is much different between the two jerseys, which is also true of the collar tag. Nonetheless, if you had nothing to compare either with, it would be difficult to say that one of them appears fake.

As I mentioned before, the quality of the jersey is excellent – it probably looks no worse than an authentic Obsidian Warriors Swingman alternate jersey I bought from the NBA store a few months ago for 4 times the price. It could have easily sold as an authentic Nike USA swingman and it is likely better than an authentic replica Andre Iguodala Nike USA jersey that I own. I hope this helps, but feel free to ask me questions!