The game of tennis and gear hasn’t changed that much over the years in terms of technology integration. Sure, racquets got lighter and strings evolved, but what about something different in a major kind of way? Times are changing and in the recent years we are starting to see a slow but exciting trend of technology revolutionising the game. What is extraordinary is that this technology is starting to become affordable and therefore available to everyone including recreational players as well as weekend warriors.
This is something really out of this world. We all know how Hawk-eye can be exciting at the official matches. What if the technology could be integrated and made available to regular folks? The company behind the PlaySight did it. They have created an innovative smart tennis court that tracks and reviews your game as you play it. This system can be installed to almost any court and it offers so many exciting features including:
Line calling (no more fist fights with your opponents)
Detailed statistics for each shot played
Live streamingInstant video reply with multiple camera angles
The system is able to truly analyze each shot and display ball trajectory, speed, spin and even incorporate in-depth data related to player’s movement on the court. The heart of the system is the interactive touch-screen machine where players can set up their training sessions and analyze data. There are lots of training games built-in that players can work on, and the provided instant statistics and data made available breathes a completely new life into tennis training sessions and matches. This technology can truly make us feel like pros, even if it’s just for a moment.
Babolat is the pioneer behind this technology. They are the first ones to bring a fully connected racquet to the masses. Yes, the days when you need to plug in and charge your racquet are finally here! It’s up to you to decide if that is an improvement or not. Babolat managed to integrate smart sensors into the handle of their racquets, they call it the “Babolat Play technology”. Racquets don’t feel any different in weight or balance to their “less digital brothers”, but they do have a secret. These racquets track all the player's strokes on the court. Each and every shot is tracked and it's possible to see data and stats via mobile app after each training session and share it with friends online.
This technology allows us to analyze our game in terms of what we are actually doing on the court, technique wise. The sensor data will show the type of spin, type of shot, where the ball was hit on the string bed and other useful information we would never be aware of any other way. This data can help players spot their weak spots by themselves and things they need to work on. Also, this kind of data is extremely helpful to tennis coaches helping players reach higher levels of tennis.
Babolat has updated all their flagship racquets, integrating the new technology:
Babolat Pure Aero PLAY
Babolat PLAY Pure Drive
Babolat PLAY AeroPro Drive
Babolat PLAY Pure Drive Lite
Not only that these racquets are smart, but they also have stunning cosmetics. Another perk is that you can compare your performance and training sessions to those of Rafael Nadal, who is also using the connected racquets and sharing his stats online.
Ball machines have been around for a while, but nowadays we are seeing some really cool features being added. Finding a tennis partner that is willing to feed you hundreds of easy balls to your backhand side, just so that you can practice your weakest shot, usually turns out to be a mission imposible. In this type of situation, a ball machine can do wonders! Ball machines can be an excellent tool for boosting tennis technique and practicing without a sparring partner.
There are three companies producing top ball machines nowadays and they are Lobster, Tennis Tutor and Tennis Tower. When it comes to out of this world features, for example, Tennis Tutor Plus Player Model can simulate a real player on the other side of the court. There are presets you can chose from (beginner, intermediate or advanced) and machine simulates type of spin, ball speed, shots depth as well as variations in the game that would match a real player of the chosen skill level. Lobster machines can serve all kinds of shots all over the court with lots of drills pre-programmed into the machine. These advanced ball machines can vary spin, ball depth and direction smoothly. They are also portable and can be controlled with a handy remote. If you think ball machines are boring, try one of these for a spin (pun intended) and see if you can keep up.
Technology is finally making the first steps into the game of tennis. More and more often we are seeing young players tracking games using their smartphone apps or using connected racquets. The latest iPhones can shoot slow motion video which is a great way to analyze your technique (or just brag with your amazing tennis skills on social media). Technology is evolving constantly and what makes it so exciting is that today we can’t even imagine the gadgets of tomorrow!