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Secret Base Reviews: HomeCourt

An artificial intelligence basketball trainer you can use at home!

HomeCourt is an interactive basketball training app that uses AI to provide drills and track your progress. As you can see from me trying to explain this to the Secret Base crew, it’s a little hard to explain how the artificial intelligence works or really what this app does:

A slack screenshot in which Clara has to explain she’s not an assassin.

So, this time, for you, the audience, I’ll use a visual aid:

HomeCourt promo image

So that’s HomeCourt: you do drills in front of your phone camera, and it adds elements (or targets) to your environment.

The best thing about the app is that it tricks you into exercising. There’s a drill where the targets pop up in numerical order and you have to hit them in that order. That’s more game than drill! I’m just trying to get a higher and higher score; the exercise is a side effect.

But how about the “Lateral Quickness” drill? That’s just sprinting back and forth tapping ai cones. Why am I doing that over and over? Two reasons, 1. AI is neat and my brain is simple. The cone even makes a noise when it falls down! 2. There’s a score at the end, so even though it’s just running back and forth, it is a game, actually.

And you don’t just compete against yourself. There’s an international leaderboard and you can do battle mode against randoms (or friends, if any of my friends want to join the app). I’ve gotten my best scores in battle mode.

But there’s also plenty I don’t like about HomeCourt. It takes your measurements like you’re in a real NBA draft combine. Sounds fun, right? And it is, until you get your results.

You know how a regular person’s wingspan is about as long as their height? And how pro athletes often have a wingspan longer than their height? Well, mine’s three inches shorter.

It doesn’t feel good to be like “I wonder how I stack up …” and then get the results back that I am bad. And like, yes, I have to keep a stool in my kitchen to reach stuff, so perhaps I already had some clues, but now I know for sure. I have the hard numbers. I do not want them.

It gets worse. The app measures your vertical and records video of your jumps. And while it may seem cool to know your vertical, it is decidedly not cool to watch a video of yourself trying to jump as high as you can. It’s like listening to a recording of your own voice, only much worse. I will not be posting the video. But lemme just tell you, it looked like there was an invisible person pushing down on my shoulders. This was exacerbated by the fact that, while preparing to jump, I steadied myself and got a VERY serious look on my face.

Those indignities aside, there’s an even bigger negative to the app: The competition. Now I know I said a few paragraphs up that I liked the competition and I did — until I realized I was competing against children.

How did I realize this, you ask? There was an app-wide agility tournament last week. You had to pre-qualify! That sounds adult to me. But my opponent? About six years old. I scrolled through the rest of the bracket. All children. Checked other brackets, more children.

This was a lose-lose situation for me. Either I beat a kid at what is apparently a kid’s game. Or I lose to a kid, and considering my wingspan and vertical potential ... that was probably going to happen sooner or later.

I forfeited. And I haven’t gone back to the app. BUT! If a bunch of adults read this and want to and friend me and compete? I’m down to get back into it

For now HomeCourt gets a: