Everything is getting connected: Our homes, our cars, and now a connected tennis racquet. Seriously! Does Rafael Nadal need anything else to improve his game? If Babolat’s Play Pure Drive connected racquet lives up to all the hype Nadal will have something else to add to his arsenal and not just rely on Uncle Tony to give him all the stats he needs to up his game performance even more.
But it’s not just the pros. Come this holiday season even casual players will be able to access the information they need to analyze their game, improve their technique, and to share the data with other players. Through the first connected racquet, even amateur players can collect information on power, serve speed, and overall strokes, (forehand, backhand, ballspin). What’s more, as a player you can learn a lot about consistency, energy, and endurance, (well, maybe I really don’t want to know that).
I was fortunate to hold a prototype of the Pure Play racquet in my hand last week when I personally interviewed Eric Babolat, president and CEO of Babolat while at the U.S. Open. As readers of my column or listeners of The Peggy Smedley Show know, I have a great love for the game of tennis. It’s true. So when I was invited to interview Eric about his new connected racquet I was certainly intrigued. As a die-hard fan, I have a wealth of knowledge about the players, the history, and the game in general.
So when the buzz began about the game’s first connected racquet I had to see it for myself and not just interview a Babolat exec on the phone. So as the tennis nut I am I couldn’t help but make the trek to Flushing Meadows for the final major of the year—The U.S. Open—and meet the company that was putting this tennis racquet on the market.
Come this December, with all the information being garnered, the Play Pure Drive should surely improve a player’s game. I’m counting on it improving on my game. (However, that would require me changing my racquet first, easier said than done). On the other hand, I know my game could use all the data analysis help it can get.
As for the Play Pure Drive, Babolat partnered with Movea, a company specializing in capturing and analyzing movement, to produce the first-ever MEMS (micro-electro-mechanical systems) enabled racquet. The sensors are built into the handle to record the flow of data based on player performance, and you’d never know it when you hold the racquet. It has the same feel and weight as a traditional racquet.
Interestingly, at the end of a match all the data is transferred over a Bluetooth connection that is easily paired with a smartphone to a connected device or via a USB to analyze movement. I suppose another reason I am so intrigued by this racquet is that for years I would manually record stats about my son’s serves, double faults, unforced errors, etc. When apps came on the market I would use those to help me. But now with this connected racquet, it’s keeping track of so much more as the ball hits the strings.
Let’s not forget you can socialize the data too. I just can’t wait to get my hands on the actual test model in a few weeks. And believe me; I will be testing this out, over and over again to see if it passes the muster.
As for meeting Eric, he is perhaps one of the most unassuming CEOs I have ever met. I sat for more than an hour with Eric. He’s probably just as passionate about the game of tennis as he is about his new racquet.
He has had a vision for the connected racquet for almost 10 years and has been working on the Play Pure Drive for the past three years. But come the holiday season tennis fans will be able to hit the courts with the industry’s first wireless connected racquet. I’ll be giving my review shortly and if all goes well, perhaps the Play Pure Drive will make Connected World’s Perfect Gift list for the holidays. Stay tuned.