Best wearables for football, golf, tennis and other sports

Not everyone is training for a marathon, you know?
Great wearables for other sports

Running watches, cycling tech, swimming wearables and even golf watches are two a penny, and don’t even get us started on the ubiquitous array of fitness bands.

But what about if none of those are your favourite sport? Don’t you deserve a tracker or device to help coach you through the pain barrier too? Of course you do, and the good news is there’s probably one out there for you to get hold of.

Essential reading: Check out our running tech guides

So, here are some of the best alternative sports wearables. There’s not much for cricket or snooker right now but take a look at this lot and you’ll realise they’re coming. They’re all coming.

American Football, Ice Hockey, Boxing et al: Reebok Checklight and Jolt

Best sports tracking gadgets

You get the picture. Any sport involving protective headgear is one that would benefit from either of these two wearables. The aim of both is to call attention to the coaching staff on the sidelines when the athlete sporting one has taken the kind of blow to the head that might have caused concussion. Play on with that kind of trauma and you risk serious, permanent damage.

Jolt is a small detachable clip and Checklight a whole cap, but both are charged by USB before you take the field and report back to apps over Bluetooth when its time to send a warning. The former isn’t available quite yet - still a Kickstarter project in motion - but we like the fact it includes a concussion diagnostic tool in the mobile software.

$100, joltsensor.com / $150, reebok.com

Golf: Zepp and Game Golf

Best sports tracking gadgets

Golf is one of the sports more replete with interesting wearable devices to try out. Garmin does an excellent range of Approach wristwatches but serious swing mechanics and shot trajectory tracking is the preserve of Game Golf and the Zepp Golf Swing Analyser.

Game Golf is more suited to playing a round. You tag the sensor on the grip of your club to the unit on your belt for each shot, and the system will map your entire route around the course comparing your strokes to the professionals.

Zepp, on the other hand, is probably better suited to the driving range. Take a swing and let the app figure out why you’re the master slicer that you are.

£129.95, zepp.com / £159.95, gamegolf.com

Surfing: SharkStopper

Best sports tracking gadgets

Another wearable that’s yet to complete its round of Kickstarter funding is one that might just put the minds of surfers, body boarders and ocean swimmers at ease: a company in California claims to have created an audio device that repels sharks.

It’s a patented acoustic signal that is unpleasant but not harmful in anyway to the sharks and, from the video, it sounds to us rather like a dolphin pod. That, quite conceivably, could be enough to make sharks swim elsewhere. All you need to do is wear it around your ankle or wrist and then paddle away without the concern of being eaten.

$225, sharkstopper.com

Tennis: Smash and Sony Smart Tennis Sensor

Best sports tracking gadgets

Neither of these are available quite yet but both Smash and the Sony Smart Sensor want to tell you how hard you’re hitting a tennis ball, how much spin you’re putting on it and how consistently you’re doing so.

The Sony version has been shown off at tech shows throughout 2014 and is set to arrive for $200 come January.

Smash is probably the more intriguing of the two, though. It’s a wristband, rather than a racket attachment, and it should come in a little cheaper once funded. The mobile app that comes with it also looks a little more complete, adding in accuracy and an overall Smash score for your session.

$200, sony.com / £75, smashwearables.com

Football: Adidas miCoach Smart Ball and f50 Adizero

Best sports tracking gadgets

Technology is coming to football in a big way and it’s not just Sepp Blatter behind the drive. Adidas has two products that you might want to try.

The first, and more obvious, is the f50 Adizero boots which contain Speedcell technology. These send data to the miCoach training system, which lets you know all about where, how hard and how often you’ve been running throughout your game.

The second, and more fun, device is the Smart Ball which has pressure sensors pushed up against the inner of its bladder to tell an app all about how hard, how accurately, and with what spin you’re kicking your free kicks. Want to bamboozle like Bale? It’s all possible now.

£220 / £160, adidas.co.uk

Basketball: 94Ffity

Best sports tracking gadgets

Much as with the Smart Ball, the 94Fifty is a basketball with sensors inside and Bluetooth connection to a mobile app, which will reveal your skills after each and every shot. There are workouts with pre-defined drills as well as custom options to work on the parts of your game that you need most.

The ball itself reports back its arc and shot spin and the velocity so that you can figure out whether you’re going to heavy on the shoulder or the wrist. There are also exercises to improve your dribbling with metrics covering the speed and force with which you’re handling.

Plus, there’s social fun and a bunch of challenges too. Really nicely delivered and very useful indeed.

$249.95, 94fifty.com

Kayaking, Canoeing & Rowing: Vaaka Cadence

Best sports tracking gadgets

Paddle sports are big in New Zealand, so the silver fern-loving Antipodeans have become something of an expert nation when it comes to wearables for tracking your kayaking, canoeing or rowing training.

Vaaka has created a sensor that clips onto your oar and reports your cadence data - i.e. your stroke rate - back to your fitness tracker watch via Bluetooth. Your Garmin, Suunto or Timex device will then be able to combine that with GPS data, therefore, measures of distance travelled and speed to come up with a perfect and consistent fitness and technique program.

Add in heart rate data and you can make sure that you’re paddling in all the right fitness zones to help sculpt your cardio-vascular intensity. Technical, but that’s why you’re here.

$190, vaaka.co.nz

Skiing & Snowboarding: Oakley Airwave 1.5

Best sports tracking gadgets

Fighter pilots have head HUDs and what’s the difference between hurtling through the air and down a mountain anyway? That’s why Oakley has pre-installed the Snow2 tracking and display technology right into its Airwave goggles.

You get real-time readings of your speed, navigation, temperature, vertical feet and even jump analytics to track the height, airtime and distance of your tricks. On top of all that, it connects to your mobile for music playback, social notifications and phone calls too.

Best of all is the Buddy Tracking system to keep tabs on anyone you know on the slopes with a set of Airwaves or even just the Oakley mobile app.

£520, uk.oakley.com

Gym training: Athos

Best sports tracking gadgets

Whether you’re looking to body build or just keep yourself trim, there’s an obvious wearable gap in the market for all those millions of people who really don’t want to quit the gym. The trouble is that it’s all a bit experimental at the moment and the words you’ll read on every online store is ‘pre-order’.

Nonetheless, Athos is the name to look out for. It’s a combination of training clothes woven with micro-EMG sensors that can detect which of your muscle fibres are working and how hard they’re doing so. The data is sent back to a Bluetooth core that then sends it all back to an app to be analysed.

It’s based on what used to be exclusively expensive medical technology and will hopefully arrive some time before 2015.

$397, liveathos.com

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