Basketball goes high tech

  • By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
  • Monday, August 20, 2012 9:39pm
  • SportsSports

MARYSVILLE — Former Granite Falls boys varsity basketball coach Steve Hume has a passion for basketball. He also has a passion for helping others get better.

That’s why Hume created a basketball clinic for local players, mostly at the high school and college level that want to improve their games. Hume works out the players twice a week and at those practices, the players get the opportunity to use a few of the more extravagant teaching tools he has at his disposal.

Hume’s approach is largely technologically based.

The Gun 8000 shooting machine made by the Shoot-a-way company and the motion-sensor basketballs made by 94fifty Sports Technologies Hume uses can be found at any one of his practices. These aren’t just any old tools; the Gun 8000 keeps track of players shooting percentages from different spots on the floor and helps the players work on the arc of their shot. The 94fifty basketballs keep track of everything from revolutions of the ball on a jump shot to the amount of time it takes to get a shot up after a pass.

These tools offer a technological approach to helping players improve their shooting. They also aren’t cheap. Hume said the Gun 8000 cost about $6,000 and the motion sensor basketballs and the computer that comes along with it cost $2,000. Hume paid for both on his own dime.

On top of that, Hume said he isn’t interested in turning a profit with his basketball camps, only helping players get better. The money he charges, $100 per month, goes to gym rentals, buying equipment and to pay liability insurance.

Hume’s technological approach is innovative and rare. It is also fun for the players, but make no mistake, the practices are rigorous and push his players to their limits. And Hume wants players who are willing to put in the work.

“I try to make the workouts as difficult as possible,” Hume said. “I’ve probably had seven college players who played somewhere last year that didn’t make it out to more than two or three practices because they don’t want to work.”

One such player who has made the commitment to Hume’s clinics is a familiar face to those who attended a Snohomish High School basketball game this past season. The Herald’s All-Area Player of the Year, Luke Hamlin, can be found at nearly all of Hume’s practices. Hamlin is the highest profile player at the clinic and is working to improve his game for his upcoming freshman season at Seattle Pacific University.

“It’s tough, but if you want to get better, it’s the way to go,” Hamlin said of Hume’s clinic.

Hamlin didn’t always feel that way. He first met Hume while attending Snohomish when Hume came out to help Panthers coach Len Bone run a few workouts at practice.

“I actually hated him (Hume) at first,” Hamlin said. “He had some tough workouts. It gets you better. If you aren’t getting better at basketball, you are getting better at cardio and better strength. So I decided that this was my best option to get better for the next level.”

Hume said Hamlin helps to set an example for many of the clinic’s younger players.

For some, being told by a computer what you are doing wrong might be difficult to accept and Hamlin was no different. But as time went on, he began to embrace the technology.

“It’s great to have, but at the same time it’s not,” Hamlin said. “Every part of your game is critiqued. Even me, I thought I had a great shot and it felt good. Then going out and doing the program, I have a lot of things to change, which, I mean, is a good thing because you get better, but it’s frustrating knowing that you can change a few things when it already feels good as it is. But it’s a great way to get better and try to improve.”

Many of the improvements that the motion sensor basketballs have suggested for Hamlin are things that he has been told all through his basketball career. But hearing it from an unbiased computer, rather than a person, has forced him to take a look at all aspects of his shooting.

“I’ve never had a lot of arch on my shot, it’s always been flat and the spin on the ball has always been without a lot of revolutions and has been kind of slow,” he said. “People have told me that all through my life and I just thought maybe they are saying something different or it’s their own opinion, but definitely with the machine and the technology and what it shows, I obviously need to change it.

“I’ve been working really hard on getting the revolutions and the spin down. It’s really great to have because it’s not someone’s opinion, it’s actually technology telling you that you’ve got to make it different.”

Hume said technology creates accountability for his players.

“I like the technology because of the accountability it gives,” he said. “Everything can be tracked on the Internet. With this software we can basically track everything from entry-arc, to release-arc to ball spin and ball rotation and that kind of technology is new.”

The technology may be new but it is starting to be picked up by major college programs throughout the country, including UCLA and Wisconsin.

While technology plays a big role in Hume’s clinic, it isn’t the only method he uses. He puts his players through an exercise routine called plyometrics designed to produce fast and powerful movements to improve muscular power and overall speed.

The clinic isn’t just about basketball for Hume’s players. He said the work they put in will not only help on the court, but will help prepare them for nearly anything they will face in life.

Hamlin seems to agree.

“You want to be the best person, not only the best basketball player, but the best person,” Hamlin said. “This correlates to, not just basketball, but into my school work, my friendships, always working hard. That’s kind of my one thing I’ve learned from basketball.”

Aaron Lommers covers sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at For more information on the Hume’s clinic visit

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