The top 5 game changing innovations in tennis. Cahill & Annacone weigh in.
There’s a lot of talk about how much tennis has changed over the last 8 or so years. Matches are longer, balls hit harder and players train off court more than on. We recently asked tennis gurus Darren Cahill* and Paul Annacone* what innovations in particular have led to modern day tennis.
Here’s what Cahill had to say:
“String. The emergence of string like Luxilon has made a massive impact to the game as players can now impart more spin on the ball. In tennis, spin means control, and it allows players to find sharper angles, get the ball below the net faster for the incoming volleyer, take larger swings to access more power, string rackets looser for easier power, and defend better when stretched into the corners. Nearly every player uses an all-poly string or a combination hybrid version of gut/poly in today’s game.
Rackets. In general, tennis rackets have become lighter and more maneuverable to adapt to the string technology allowing players to take larger swings generating more power and spin. [The racquet above is just 11.7 oz strung]
Training, diet & body management. We’ve become smarter athletes, coaches and trainers which has extended the playing careers of all tennis players. It is the reason we see many players having career best years in their late 20’s and early 30’s, where it wasn’t so long ago considered to be impossible to do. [pic above of Novak Djokovic doing yoga]
PlaySight. [we took a look at this when it first came out – see court set up above] Access to centrally located video, data, statistics and match review breakdowns to improve overall coaching of players of any level has been huge.
Hawkeye, the challenge system. The only downside is that there are not enough challenge courts at the Grand Slams. It has been an incredibly positive innovation for tennis.”
– Darren Cahill
Annacone expanded on the benefits of the PlaySight system that puts a kiosk on court along with a number of cameras that essentially track all on court activity.
“The technology offers:
the ability to see if targets are hit in real time
the ability to see real-time consistency metrics (percentages)
speed – spin and ball flight of shots (real-time speed data in MPH, real-time spin data in RPM, and real-time ball placement and net
instant video review on court and the ability to slow mo- freeze frame and use as instructional tool
the ability to look at points strategically and see if desired patterns were constructed”
– Paul Annacone
This video gives a little insight into how the PlaySight technology works right on court. Watch the entire video to see how the analysis moves from court to kiosk:
I want to add one more innovation that neither Darren nor Paul mentioned.
Video analysis of opponent technique and strategy. With the vast availability of matches and match recaps online, online video offers excellent opponent insight to coaches and players prepping to play matches.
*As the Heads of the PlaySight Coaching and Player Development team, Annacone and Cahill will assist with the creation of instructional content for PlaySight users and tennis players. Along with this, they will oversee the building of a PlaySight coaching curriculum, using SmartCourt video and analytics technology to work with tennis players of all ages and abilities around the world. Annacone and Cahill will also advise PlaySight in the roll-out of SmartCourts across key collegiate, club, federation, and tournament locations.