tennis strategy

How Technology is Serving Tennis Strategy a Makeover

In this post I wanted to explore the idea of tennis strategy and tennis technology have finally come face to face.  You see, just 10-15 years ago tennis strategy and tennis technology were two completely different aspects of tennis.

The fundamentals of tennis strategy have always been about finding your strengths, maximizing them and then using them to expose what your opponent doesn’t do well. Tennis strategy has always been rooted in that concept.  Except now, with the use of technology, we have more advanced, even easier way to analyze what we do well, perfect strokes, identify weaknesses, and formulate a more crystal clear tennis strategy based on our own individual style of play.  

Tennis Strategy and Tennis Technology

Yes, tennis strategy and tennis technology have come full circle.  The lines between the two concepts are now blurred. They’re intertwined more than they ever have.

The tennis technology of today has come a long way since the early games of handball. It hasn't changed the whole fabric of the game, but it has allowed coaches and players alike to zoom in on the finer points of strategy. 

And that's to the benefit of tennis strategy. 

Much of this technology is explicitly designed with the user (i.e. the player and their coach) in mind. 

From the player's perspective, it allows you to see your game and where you need to improve in real time. From the coach's perspective, it allows you to build smart lessons and critique at a finer level to see greater improvement. 

Here are some of the biggest technology trends shaping the game--and how you can use it to improve your tennis strategy.

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Intelligent Tennis Strategy - High-Tech Court Systems

Intelligent court systems first hit the market in 2015 with the PlaySight smart court

These courts use a number of HD cameras installed throughout the court to record everything that happens in the course of play so that coaches can spot errors more accurately and have players fine-tune specific drills. It also includes sensors to detect real-time movement. 

All of this data is uploaded to the PlaySight cloud so that coaches and players can access it easily. 

Tennis Strategy - Wearables

A more hands-on form of tennis technology is something that non-tennis players are quite familiar with: wearables. 

These can be tennis-specific or not. Apple Watches and FitBits, for example, are great for tracking basic biometrics and can upload data to the cloud for players and coaches to review. 

The Babolat POP

Then there are tennis-specific wearables, like the Babolat POP, which is worn on the racquet hand and tracks things like spin, power, rally length, and session time, all viewable from an app on your phone. 

Unlike a FitBit, which collects health information, Babolat POP is dedicated exclusively to tennis. It collects data about things like: 

  • Forehand
  • Backhand
  • Serves
  • Smash
  • Volleys
  • Topspin
  • Swing power

You can also use it to collect information on your longest rally and how long you played--and compare various sessions against each other over time. 

You wear it just like a FitBit and can pair it with your phone so that it's easy to view your training data and use it to make informed decisions about your practice. 

For example, let's say you're just forming a foundational tennis strategy. You want to see, in real data, how much you rely on one swing over another. 

Babolat POP allows you to see how you play your whole game. So maybe you're stronger in forehand versus backhand, or you tend to struggle when you do a certain type of spin, or you tend to stay constant at a certain swing power. 

Babolat POP lets you see your game broken down into smarter metrics so that you can see exactly how you play--and construct a match that plays to your strengths without relying on crutches that an opponent can take advantage of. 

Data Collecting Sensors

The Babolat Pop isn't the only tracking sensor available on the market. There are sensors for all sorts of things, depending on what you want to track. 

The overarching goal of these gadgets is simple: dish out a laundry list of numbers that coaches can turn into technique and performance improvements. The trick, of course, is knowing how to read the data--the gadgets won't decipher it for you. 

In that sense, you do need to know what you're looking for. So these gadgets may benefit a more experienced player, but a newbie who doesn't know how to turn numbers into performance adjustments may just be lost. 

The Qlipp

Qlipp is another great performance sensor. Whereas Babolat sits on your wrist, Qlipp sits on the strings to collect data each time you use the racket. 

Don't worry though, it’s designed so it won’t interfere with your game or slow you down. It's a small sensor, with dimensions at 30.6 by 26.7 by 10.7 mm. 

Qlipp is also easy to set up and view data. When you get the sensor, you have to set up the Qlipp app on your phone with information like your age, gender, dominant hand, preferred measuring format, and email. 

From there, you turn on Qlipp (it's on when the blue light turns on). Enable Bluetooth on your phone to pair the app with the sensor, press play, and you're ready to go. 

As tech goes, this is a fantastic tool for your overall tennis strategy. Qlipp allows you to see real-time performance metrics, so if you want to, say, improve your swing power, Qlipp allows you to see how you're performing in drills. It can also help you spot trends to vary your game, allowing you to play a smarter match. 

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Tennis Strategy and Video Analysis

Video analysis is a more straightforward approach, one that goes hand-in-hand with smart court technology. 

The premise is simple: use a video summary of the match to spot problem areas and figure out where you could improve. It's similar in principle to football coaches watching footage of games with their teams to offer critique. 

There are also specialized services that go deeper than just recording. You can search for any moment in the match in the video index, and the program will offer match analytics, such as your percentage of serves and returns and errors made during the match. 

However, this type of in-depth performance analysis is pricey, so an amateur player may be better served with a good old fashioned video camera. 

Using Tech to Improve Your Tennis Strategy

So, how to do you connect this tennis technology and gadgets to your overall tennis strategy?

For starters, use the tech to focus on the basics of the game. How do you hit the ball, how do you serve, how to do move in the court?

This technology is excellent for tracking behavior, which makes it easier for you to see where you went wrong. It's also easier to improve because you can operate by sight instead of just feel. 

Once you've nailed the basics, you can use technology to focus on the finer points. How are you angling your racquet? Do you have a weaker velocity on certain swings? How quickly do you react to certain situations? 

Basically, use this technology to be strategic. If you work through your technique in a systemic manner, it's easier to spot where you need improvement and where you excel. 

The beauty of all this, is that in world of tennis today, you can save money by getting a great inexpensive racquet and then using the rest of your budget by improving your tennis strategy by investing in some of technology I covered here.  It's the best of both worlds. 

All the fancy tech doesn't need to be in the racquet anymore, it can be used to analyze how you handle your racquet.  

Using Tech to Improve Your Tennis Strategy

So, how to do you connect this tennis technology and gadgets to your overall tennis strategy?

For starters, use the tech to focus on the basics of the game. How do you hit the ball, how do you serve, how to do move in the court?

This technology is excellent for tracking behavior, which makes it easier for you to see where you went wrong. It's also easier to improve because you can operate by sight instead of just feel. 

Once you've nailed the basics, you can use technology to focus on the finer points. How are you angling your racquet? Do you have a weaker velocity on certain swings? How quickly do you react to certain situations? 

Basically, use this technology to be strategic. If you work through your technique in a systemic manner, it's easier to spot where you need improvement and where you excel. 

The beauty of all this, is that in world of tennis today, you can save money by getting a great inexpensive racquet and then using the rest of your budget by improving your tennis strategy by investing in some of technology I covered here.  It's the best of both worlds. 

All the fancy tech doesn't need to be in the racquet anymore, it can be used to analyze how your handle your racquet.  

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Need More Tips to Play a Stronger Match?

Tennis technology will never replace the joy of a great match, but it can significantly improve your overall tennis strategy - if you use it properly. 

Remember:

Technology, like strategy, is a tool. It only works if you know how to utilize it.

For more tips on playing a better match, check out our blog for more useful strategy and tips. You can also check out our buyer's guide for reviews on tennis racquets, court shoes and more! 

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