<
>

Rockets practice with strobe glasses and new high-tech tracking

Anything for an edge: MVP candidate James Harden tried out a set of strobe glasses at Rockets practice. Calvin Watkins

HOUSTON -- As reporters were led into Rockets practice on Tuesday, Sam Dekker wore what looked like sunglasses as he attempted jump shots. But it wasn’t some new swag the Rockets' second-year forward was trying on for looks; it’s part of the advanced technology his team is using to get better.

The strobe glasses have been used by other players, such as Stephen Curry and Kawhi Leonard, to improve hand-eye coordination.

Now the Rockets have bought in. James Harden took a few shots with the glasses, and Patrick Beverley was dribbling a basketball while trying to catch a tennis ball.

"I’ve never done it before," Ryan Anderson said. "It kind of just blinds you; you can’t really get a pass or anything."

The glasses weren’t the only part of the technology-savvy practice. The Rockets normally have tracking devices on each player for practices. On Tuesday they used a new company to track their players, Kinexon Precision Technologies, which was happy to have a chance to show off its equipment.

"We have 12 receivers around the court that bring the information to us," said Mehdi Bentanfous, managing director for Kinexon. "We can track every player's movement from speed, heat maps, accelerations -- any motion."

The Philadelphia 76ers already use Kinexon's devices to track their players during practices.

Rockets players are used to being tracked during practices, as the sports performance staff, led by Javair Gillett, monitors and charts every move. All this technology is used to help the Rockets’ coaching staff plan rest for players and how long to work them during games and practices.

"The more information you have, the better," said Kevin Burleson, part of the Rockets’ player development staff. "You want to monitor how much energy is being used, and if guys are running effectively."