To be able to play table tennis competitively – with all the different shots, spins, and the insanely fast pace – there are many techniques one has...
Up your game with a tennis sensor
There are a number of tennis sensors on the market and though they all have their differences the general idea is the same. By collecting data, the sensors provide players with insights so they can learn, analyze, and improve their game. For this blogpost, we’ve tested the Babolat Pop, a connected wristband dedicated to tennis.
Trying out Babolat Pop
Most tennis sensors are to be attached to the racket, either mounted on the butt or inserted between the strings like a dampener. Babolat Pop’s tracking device is instead slipped into a pocket on a wristband where it records your performance on the court. After a tennis session, you sync the device with your smartphone app and the collected data will turn into helpful statistics, colorful diagrams, and total motivation.
The sensor measures your skills in a variety of techniques. It records forehands, backhands, smashes, volleys, and serves and categorizes how many shots were flat versus slices and topspins. This gives you good insights into your style of play and what areas you might need to improve. Some more advanced sensors, like Zepp, will also present sweet spot accuracy and burned calories.
Babolat Pop also provides something called the PIQ Score. This is a combination of racket speed, spin, and style where style is defined as your technique when it comes to motion and fluidity. The PIQ Score is like a summary of your session. This is the score to watch as it tracks your general improvement over time. Another interesting feature that grows on you is Winning Factors. The sensor learns from your past performances and provides you with a custom analysis of your game, albeit very briefly.
As with most sensors, the Babolat Pop comes with challenges and a community of other players so there are a number of ways you can motivate and challenge yourself.
Weighing the pros and cons
- Getting statistics of your game makes it incredibly motivating and fun to play. Once I overcame the initial compulsion to hit the ball as hard as possible, I got a better understanding of what I needed to work on in order to improve.
- You don’t have to be tech-savvy to use it. Pairing, syncing, and charging is super easy.
- The sensor is almost weightless and the wristband is comfortable to wear.
- You can use it with any racket, it doesn’t have to be Babolat. In fact, you don’t even need a racket to practice your technique. You can simply wear the wristband and swing away in your apartment.
- I have not used the social interaction features but I can totally understand how interacting with others can boost your game even more.
- The biggest disadvantage is that the sensor cannot tell if the ball is in or out. It is easy to look at the data and think you played brilliantly when in fact you might have hit the ball out or in the net.
- It is not 100 % accurate in differentiating between types of shots. For instance, sometimes the sensor mistakes a smash for a serve.
- The app interface feels slightly dated and the design is not very intuitive.
- The motion sensor goes on my right wrist since I am right-handed. This is where I would normally wear my sweatband so I have accidentally wiped my sweaty forehead with it a million times. Luckily it is waterproof.
To summarize, using a sensor takes tennis to a whole new level of fun, something I did not think was possible. There are many different tracking devices on the market, certainly ones that are more advanced and up-to-date than Babolat Pop. Do some research to find which one is best for you. Regardless of what you choose, I think that any device that gives you feedback will improve your motivation – and up your game.