It’s a new ballgame for Gilad Bloom, a former professional tennis player who is currently director of tennis at The Tennis Club of Riverdale (TCR). For the past two months, Bloom has been using the PlaySight SmartCourt, a new system aiming to revolutionize tennis. The PlaySight SmartCourt is a computerized tennis analysis system using state-of-the-art technology to improve tennis players at all levels. PlaySight Smart Court makes tennis more challenging and fun. Whether you are a social player who plays recreationally, an advanced player or even a pro, the PlaySight SmartCourt has a lot to offer.
Using a five-HD camera system and with no sensors attached to the players, PlaySight utilizes advanced image processing and analytical algorithms (incorporating the company’s “auto-tagging” technology) to record and track player movement and shots. The system is self-operated, as both the player and coach can easily work the user-friendly and intuitive touch-screen kiosk on-court.
The PlaySight SmartCourt digitally records and analyzes every aspect of a match and training session. It calculates comprehensive game statistics (player and ball position, speed and distance of each shot) and classifies strokes automatically (serve, backhand/forehand ground strokes and volleys, etc.). Players can be shown a video analysis in real-time while at courtside, as a coach can pinpoint specific rallies, shots and events in the match, as well as immediately demonstrate match stats.
"I've been coaching for years now," said Bloom, "but I've never seen my students and players improve their game so fast in such a short amount of time as when using SmartCourt.”
Bloom uses the different modes of the system for different types of practices, from stroke and serve practices to playing a full set.
But the SmartCourt is far from being just a training tool, it makes the whole game much more exciting and enjoyable even if you play tennis just for fun. Just imagine how it would be to play with a real line calling system? No more disputes or arguments. When was the last time you saw yourself playing tennis on video? And wouldn't it be cool to know how fast you serve, your first serve percentage and many more stats that were available until now only for the pros? SmartCourt does all that and much more.
The SmartCourt experience does not end on the court. Match and training activities are recorded, analyzed and uploaded to Playsight.com, where it is stored in the players' personal accounts, where they can review and track their performance and share it with their coach, friends and family. Parents now have the ability to follow and track their children’s progress and see all of their practices and matches on video.
Furthermore, after each match, the SmartCourt automatically creates a short video clip showing the match's highlight. Video and stats can be reviewed and shared by players via e-mail and/or social media.
Today, tennis ranks second to last in the list of sports using sophisticated analytics, according to the MIT Sloan Sport Analytics Conference 2012.
"We strongly believe that a sports analysis platform is feasible on every tennis court, with the ability to accurately analyze and immediately share a player’s performance, during and after a match or training, will revolutionize the game of tennis," said Chen Shachar, CEO and founder of PlaySight Interactive. "I have no doubt that tennis can lead the way in adopting advanced technology, fundamentally changing all aspects of the game, training and coaching, as well as playing and reviewing matches.”
Most tennis players have never received any visual feedback. Players who engage in dozens of matches throughout the year rarely get to see themselves playing and hardly receive any feedback. With PlaySight, players and coaches at all levels will receive automatic and instant on-court biomechanical and 3D tactical feedback with no prior preparation, as an integral part of each SmartCourt.
The lack of umpires in most tournaments, especially in junior tournaments, causes a number of problems, such as bad calls, cheatings, frustration, parents' negative involvement, etc. So when the guys from PlaySight started working on the SmartCourt, they knew from the start that their system would include a built-in line calling system.
"For the first time ever, PlaySight is bringing officiating abilities that, until now, were only available at Grand Slam tournaments, to the club level,” said Shachar.
As of August, the SmartCourt is installed in three tennis clubs in the New York region, including The Tennis Club of Riverdale, Port Washington Tennis Academy and CourtSense in New Jersey. Two additional SmartCourts will soon be installed at the Tennis Club of Hastings and Proform Tennis Academy. SmartCourts are also installed at the Queen's Club in London and in other countries around the world.
PlaySight officials say that there will be more SmartCourts installed in the New York area during the coming months. For more information, visit www.playsight.com.