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Friday, January 31, 2014

Telematics For Tennis Rackets Can Provide For Virtual Coaching

As reported by EuroSportMany sporting gadgets come and go with barely a flicker of attention, but there is now a tool that could transform tennis forever.  

An exaggeration? Only time will tell, but the number of top companies involved surely gives an indication as to its genuine potential.
Sony have unveiled a tennis sensor - a little gadget that is attachable to the base of a tennis racket - and Babolat have released their 'Play Pure Drive' effort with one already embedded into the grip.
To put the device in its simplest terms, it is like having a virtual 'tennis coach' to assess your every shot, sensing where the ball strikes the racket and the quality of the contact.
It counts forehands and backhands, serves and smashes and provides stats in the form of tennis data that can be analysed, stored and compared.
The sensor can gather data such as ball speed, accuracy, angle, etc and will pair the info with devices such as Bluetooth, phones, computers and USB connections.
More than simply a coaching aid, the sensor would allow even the top players to quickly and effectively assess their own shots and learn from specific errors during a match.
Would this go right the way to the top elite level? That all depends on how it is received within the tennis world, but the potential is there for it to improve broadcasting tools in addition to personal analysis.
Babolat's latest venture into the field of personal sporting analytics has been put through the International Tennis Federation's official approval process and could well impact the professional game if it is viewed as beneficial to everyone involved.
Babolat's Play Pure Drive (Babolat)
Put simply, if the ITF approve the sensors then they could be used in Grand Slams. Given that the technology already exists on the market, the top players would provide companies the exposure and publicity they desire.
Gael Moureaux, tennis racquets products manager at Babolat, has said: "We integrated sensors inside the handle of the racquet, but it does not change the specification.
"And these sensors will analyse your tennis game, so your swing - your motion - and all this information will be collected by the racquet.
"During the development process of the racquet, we did a lot of lab tests with a lot of players around the world to make sure the data is accurate and to have the right data for the player."
What does this mean for your average amateur tennis lover? The Babolat Play Pure Drive is already out on the market, while Sony's Smart Tennis Sensor will be priced at around £106 when it moves from Japan, where it is currently available.
According to Sony who announced the sensor’s availability in Japan, the sensor will be compatible with around six Yonex EZone and VCore tennis rackets, but additional racket compatibility will be available before long.
Sensor-connected racquets are already with us and who is to say that this will not end up becoming the accepted next phase of the tennis equipment revolution.
We've come quite a way from wooden racquets with tiny heads. This crazy-looking new gadget could yet transform the sport as we know it.