Last week, Miami Heat forward James Ennis was named Blast Motion’s first basketball ambassador. Blast Motion is a company that produces “wearable motion capture technologies” — which means sensors to help track your skills in different sports. The Blast Basketball clips on your waistband and the sensor records jump height, acceleration, rotation, and hang time.
That makes Ennis the perfect spokesman for the product. The Heat chose him in the second round 2013 NBA Draft, and the following season he played for the Perth Wildcats in Australia. Down under, Ennis helped the Wildcats win the Australian Basketball League championship and finished third in MVP voting. He returned to the States this season, and he has had a big impact on the Heat. Ennis returned to the States after the season, joined the Heat for the 2014 NBA Summer League, and finally signed with the club last July. Since joining the Heat.
SI Kids caught up with Ennis talk about the Blast Motion technology, how he uses it, and what his first season with the Heat has been like.
You played in Australia after you were drafted, so coming into this NBA season what skills did you want to work on?
Mainly my ball handling, but I also wanted to shoot the ball better and improve my leaping ability.
What are some challenges that you have being an undersized forward?
Usually strength on the defensive end is a challenge. I’m 6’7’’, but usually guys are a lot taller.
Why did you decide you wanted to use Blast Motion technology?
I always want to get better because I’m never satisfied with my game. Every day I set aside time to learn from coaches and watch video, but I wanted to use Blast Motion because it captures different things, like jumps and acceleration, things I wanted to improve. And then you can actually check it all out online.
How does the technology work exactly?
It’s a little device that you put on the back of your shorts and you can have an iPhone that has Bluetooth so you can get the app on your phone. It’s simple. It captures the hang time and all that and you can basically make highlight videos from your phone.
There are also ways to share the data you get. How does that benefit you?
It’s great for me because I can share the highlights with my friends and followers on social media. It’s a chance to have some insights into my playing, which is fun for me to share. It’s good to raise awareness about the product since anyone can buy it and pair with an iPhone. It definitely motivates me to keep getting better since I’m putting my stats out there for the world to see.
Why is seeing progress such an important part of training?
It’s very important so you can know if you’re getting better. That’s the main thing about being an athlete, you want to know you’re making progress and the work you’re doing is helping you be a better player and not weighing you down.
Have you thought about using the technology to compete against teammates?
Absolutely! It could definitely make for some friendly competition amongst my teammates.
Obviously working on improving your jump height, acceleration, and other skills makes you a really fun player to watch. But how does it specifically help you against players you face every night?
It just helps me know where I’m at every time I step on the floor. It gives me a different idea other than just going against someone, so I know what to work on more. It’s an extra step and it gives me more confidence.
How will this technology benefit kids?
Since so many kids either have or have access to iPhones or iPads, it’s a huge benefit to kids since it’s easy to use and they can track their progress. It’s also fun to see yourself playing, and something I think kids will not only enjoy using, but will help improve their game.
What's the most important thing for kids to understand when they try this technology?
It’s important to focus on your game, and also be in the moment when you’re playing basketball or any sport. One of the great things about Blast Motion is that you can use the phone to capture video, or not – the sensor still stores all of the data so you can just enjoy playing ball. The passion for the game is something you should always have.
What’s been the best part of playing in Miami this season?
The team chemistry has been great. They’re a championship organization and they like defense, which is something I really enjoy, too.
Obviously losing Chris Bosh because of his health issues is not the news you were hoping to hear towards the end of the season. What do you guys need to do to finish the season strong?
After Chris Bosh went down, we lost his offensive power. Since then, we’ve picked up a couple of new guys, so the team chemistry is a little bit different than it was. But we just need to stay strong and keep playing together.
Photo: IssacBaldizon/NBAE via Getty Images