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Thursday, November 07, 2013 Can Babolat Play Change Tennis As We Know It?

By Matt Locke

Modern society and the game of tennis are about to hit a crossroads. Technology has allowed us to obtain information instantly and use it to inform nearly every decision we make. While tennis-specific technology has had its share of breakthroughs, there really hasn’t been anything in the realm of what I would call “connected training.” Babolat is bringing tennis into that connected world with their new Pure Drive Play racquet. That’s right – the company that invented natural gut tennis strings in 1875 is now leading the connected technology charge for tennis. This new racquet is going to tell you everything you want to know about your game (and maybe some things you don’t).

Before you read more, check out this teaser video to the left. If that doesn't get you excited, I don't know what will! 

Ever wonder what you should do with all that empty space in the handle of your Pure Drive? If you are Babolat, you put in an accelerometer, a gyroscope and a microprocessor to record and relay information. The new Play frame will be able to record spin, power, placement on the string bed, shot selection, play time and more. Once the data is recorded, the racquet syncs via Bluetooth or USB with your smartphone, tablet or computer through the Babolat Play app. This allows you real time access to your hitting session and can give you instant feedback on patterns, the characteristics of your shots, etc. You can also keep a history of your performance to chart your progress as you train.
babolat play racquet

babolat play racquet

Babolat has worked with Movea, a leader in movement capture and analysis software to ensure the measurements are as accurate as possible. If you need extra motivation, Babolat will be running a global leader board for everyone using the racquet. You will get ranked against other players in several categories and work to improve your standing. This isn’t some rush project being used to cash in on the fitness gadget craze either. Babolat has been very open about the fact that this idea came up 10 years ago, but the technology simply wasn’t available at the time. They have also taken great care to ensure this frame plays like the standard Pure Drive giving it the same head size and overall weight as its traditional counterpart. It is also legal for use in all levels of ITF sanctioned play in 2014 thanks to a new addition to the Rules of Tennis.

Left and below: Exclusive photos from a Babolat Play launch event.

As somebody who spends his days involved in player development, the potential uses of the Pure Drive Play are extremely exciting to me. Coaches and players will have instant access to the results of drills, mechanics changes, match stats, etc. Babolat has shown that they are willing to take their time with this product, ensuring they get it right before launching it to the public. I am on the test team for the racquet, and I am anxiously awaiting its arrival. It will be a unique opportunity for players to access a treasure trove of useful information. Good, bad and ugly, we will be able to use those results to fuel our competitive fire. We'll keep you posted on the official release date! 

babolat play event


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