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Wednesday, December 18, 2013 Babolat Play Review II
babolat i play connected

By Matt Steverson

The new Babolat Pure Drive Play racquet has been the talk of tennis tech junkies for some time now, due to its cornucopia of features to let a player examine the results and tendencies of their strokes. Our “other Matt”, Matt Locke (or am I the other one?), has done a fine job of discussing those things. I decided to take a different tack, and see how it could work from the perspective of a coach and racquet customizer to help students and customers make technical and/or equipment changes to improve their play.

The Analyze section should be particularly helpful to coaches in helping students with shot selection. If a player doesn’t believe they run around their backhand too much (and waste valuable energy), a quick glance at this screen (showing 93% of their shots were forehands!) may just convince them to spend more practice hours on their weakness. A short study of the Spin screen (below) will let them know immediately how many shots they hit with which particular spin, and how strong that spin was, on average. A separate practice session with a grip change may be just the thing to see how much more spin (or power) the can generate with its incorporation.

babolat play

Babolat play spin
The Impact Locator (below) is one of the best aspects of the whole Play technology, I think. Certain swing styles and grips tend to make contact with the ball higher on the string face (powerful topspin), while some tend to hit the ball lower on the racquet (slices and volleys, for example). Knowing where you hit the ball on the strings could lead you to modify, or replace, your existing racquet. A net specialist using a head-heavy racquet may be well-advised to add some weight to the frame’s handle in order to move the sweet spot down into his “personal sweet spot” (the sweet spot tends to go toward the most mass in the frame). A strong baseline player may want to add weight to the head of his racquet to position the sweet spot more to his game’s liking. Even if he or she decides to forget all that and just get a new stick, their shopping experience can be less of a hassle after the Play tells them what to look for. (By the way, you can modify the Play itself and see if the changes help you in its database before customizing or replacing your frame).
As a tech guy (for tennis, anyway), I’d like to see the Play store results for volleys as well as groundstrokes and serves (it doesn’t seem to differentiate right now), since most folks play doubles and a net play section would be most helpful. I have confidence the folks at Babolat are working on this right now, and my wish will be granted quite soon. Otherwise, I think the Babolat Pure Drive Play is an immensely useful tool for players, coaches and racquet technicians alike, allowing you to not only have a game-improvement tool, but a top-notch racquet you can play with as well. Babolat play analyze


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