Teaching a kid to kick a soccer ball is easy — especially with the right soccer gear. Just swing your leg. Teaching a kid to bend the ball like Beckham, on the other hand, is a much tougher task. It requires skill, proper technique, and often the guidance of an experienced coach. Or, if you don’t have Jürgen Klinsmann on speed dial, meet the Adidas MiCoach: a smart soccer ball that pairs with a smartphone app to track real-time stats, and provides drills/tips to help kids score a lot of goals. Even better, it’s half off right now on the Adidas website.
Unlike the basketball ShotTracker, which requires players to wear a sensor to keep tabs on attempts, makes, and misses, the MiCoach tracking technology is embedded inside the size five regulation-weight ball. So there are no devices to attach to a kid’s cleats and/or search for on the field after practice. It uses wireless induction charging (two hours of charging time for five days/2,000 kicks of play) and syncs to an iOS, Android, or Windows smartphone app via Bluetooth.
Now, the Adidas MiCoach has to be stationary when struck ⏤ it won’t record if you’re shooting off the dribble. That said, for kids learning how to properly strike the ball and make it move, it’s easy to use. Simply fire up the app and press the “Kick” button. From there, the MiCoach app records the ball speed, strike point, and spin, as well as charts its trajectory and flight path. So after each kick, players can see where they struck the ball and where the hell it ended up.
In fact, it’s not called “coach” for nothing. The MiCoach app comes with “kick tips and training for power, bend, and knuckleballs” and provides videos that demonstrate “ball mastery technique.” If you’re practicing with a buddy and/or tripod, it will also record video of your shot for analysis. And while it includes power/pro drills and friend challenges, you don’t actually need a partner to use it. Just a kid, a soccer ball, and an open field. Also, a fancy smartphone. The Adidas MiCoach retails for $200 but, as mentioned, it’s currently on sale for $99.