Becoming a Sports Champ—at Home

Want to play tennis in your basement? Sink a difficult putt? Or even box? An array of devices and apps are serving at-home sports.

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As a kid, you always dreamed of conquering Augusta National Golf Club. Now the moment has arrived. You’ve just finished at six under par, clinching the top spot on the Masters leaderboard. And you didn’t even have to leave your basement.

With COVID-19 and cold weather keeping people inside and isolated this winter, technology is taking over the wide world of sports. New internet-connected devices and apps are helping weekend warriors improve their games and allowing them to compete from the comfort of their homes. Sure, the New York Marathon may have been canceled this year, for instance, but you can still race alongside other runners in real time via a treadmill with a virtual dashboard that traces the course.

To be sure, while gyms are closed and most recreational team sports are canceled, there’s no one around to push us when training, says Dan Giuliani, CEO of Volt Athletics, a software platform that uses artificial intelligence to create personalized workouts for athletes in different sports. That’s where the technology comes into play. More than simply workouts streamed on demand, this new generation of apps can adjust in real time based on the performance of the user. And though virtual classes with trainers are available, “improving performance is really about being self-motivated,” says Giuliani.

So for those of us who are, we looked at the latest devices and apps out there, whether you’re a runner, golfer, tennis ace, or basketball player.

SkyTrak • About $5,000 for a premium package

As the price suggests, this simulator isn’t for the casual weekend player on a public course. This is for the ultra-serious player who wants to practice on one of the world-famous courses the SkyTrak simulates so that they can eventually play it in real life. Players use their real clubs and play real holes, with the simulator gathering data on flight angle, speed, spin, and more. The simulator even allows you to set weather conditions.

Billie Jean King’s Eye Coach Pro • $210

Endorsed by the legendary tennis champion, this stationary hitting device isn’t exactly high-tech, but it may make you a better player. Using 17 different shots and ball spins, the Eye Coach Pro helps players hit the sweet spot every time by teaching tracking, speed, power, control, and other skills.

DribbleUp Smart Basketball • $100

Who got game? You got game with this AI-enabled virtual training app. Improve ball-handling skills in your living room with live classes and game simulations. The app analyzes dribbling techniques and provides feedback to improve speed, hand-eye coordination, and more.

Peloton Tread • $2,495 + $39 monthly fee

Peloton isn’t just for cycling. This smart treadmill offers guided runs with live instructors and fellow runners. It tracks mileage, elevation gains, and more for everyone from casual runners to those training for marathons.

FightCamp • $1,220 + $39 monthly fee

For the CEO who loves sparring and mixed martial arts, FightCamp is a high-tech take on an old workout standby: the heavy bag. Sensors embedded in the bag track punches and provide targets to hit as each round progresses. The subscription fee offers online access to boxing and kickboxing instructors for home workouts.

Mirror • $1,495 + $39 monthly fee 

For those who aren’t focused on a specific sport, the Mirror home gym offers a wide variety of cardio, yoga, weight-training, and competitive workouts. The internet-connected, wall-mounted device similar to a flat-screen TV can stream interactive, real-time workouts with live trainers. Exercise on your own or compete against others in a class setting.