Some sports lend themselves better to analytics than others.
Sports like snowboarding, downhill cycling or skateboarding, for instance, do not have effective analytics capabilities because they take place across challenging environments and especially with freestyle variations, much of the most important movement occurs in the air.
Tennis however, has been one of the sports that has allowed for extensive analytical measurements thanks to the restricted playing areas and the (relatively) easy to measure movement of the ball.
For many years companies like Hawkeye have allowed analysis of shots, player movements and service patterns, but as wearable technology has become more popular, we are increasingly seeing it permeate throughout the tennis world and it is having profound impacts on the ways that both professional and amateur tennis players are training and playing in matches.
A recent article in Sports Performance & Tech magazine outlined the potential that technologies such as the Babolat Play Pure Drive tennis racket have with players. The Babolat Play Pure Drive is the first mass produced ‘smart racket’ that records shots whilst you are playing, allowing data to be imported and analysed and changes to be made accordingly.
In addition to this, Ralph Lauren have introduced the polo tech shirt that monitors the wearer’s heartbeat, respiration and movement. On a tennis court speed and direction of movement is one of the most important aspects, as the quicker a player can get to a ball, the more time they give themselves to think and play a better shot. Equipment like this will allow for amateur players to track how quickly they are moving and whether they are weaker or stronger in certain areas and put extra work to improve where needed.
A new product developed in Australia is the Smash, a wristband that analyses strokes, spin and consistency, meaning that amateur players can track their game in the same way as professionals with sensors that can help improve their game.
It is through the use of wearable technologies and the miniaturisation of technologies that these developments have happened. Previously this kind of analytical power would have only been available to elite players, but now people can not only measure, but thanks to jumps forward in UX and data visualisation it is now possible for people to analyse their results on a smartphone or tablet.
Analytics and wearable technology in tennis still has some way to go before it has the same impact as other sports like football and rugby, but with new technology being developed all the time, it is only a matter on time.