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Technology Wants Us To Be Better Tennis Players

12/02/2015, 5:00am PST
By Kelvin Cech

“Bend your knees!”

I utter this sentence approximately 35 times every week, but because the athlete can’t see their straight legs like the coach can, the message isn’t received. 

Until now. 

The North Shore Winter Club’s tennis community has been experimenting with a new video system called Playsight that’s changing the way tennis players practice the game. With the system, every shot, every movement and every point is tracked on video to be watched and dissected later. 

“A coach can tell you over and over again what you’re doing wrong, but until you see it it’s not nearly as powerful,” says Fabio Walker, head of the NSWC tennis department. “The few people who’ve used it have given it a positive reaction.”

The system highlights things like:

  • best serve
  • calories burned
  • ball placement
  • shot percentages
  • longest rally

After every match, players can watch a condensed two minute package of highlights showing them everything they did wrong, and, more importantly, everything they did right. You can watch a 3D model of all your movements that shows you where you travelled in the match so all your tendencies are highlighted right there in front of your face in all their glory. 

“I wouldn’t go through all the stats on my own,” says Andre Kisel, one of the system's first users. “It’s overwhelming, there’s so much to consider, so the system breaks it down for you.”

Players can download an app to their phones so they can go back and watch their match later. You can keep it simple and look at specific things like your forehand shots, or all your backhand shots. 

“I don’t know how it knows, but it knows,” says Fabio. 

“I’ve used it quite a few times,” says Atton Burrell, one of the club's first coaches to use the system. “We go back and can see right away some of the mistakes right away, there’s evidence the player can use to correct things. It also keeps the stats, which I like. If you’re playing this week and the speed of your shots is kept, how high you’re hitting over the net, so there are tendencies you can use to improve your game.”

Like any new piece of technology, the system still needs some work. It’s being used to call lines in matches and sometimes the accuracy isn’t 100%. Or at least that’s what the faulty player is claiming. 

Ultimately it’s still up to the athlete to use available tools and adopt new methods in order to improve. And until we’ve got a system that’s 100% accurate (or can physically serve the ball for us), we’ll just have to keep coming to the court and putting the work in every day. 

You can register now for the system at playsight.com.

 

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