There is an old Asian proverb saying that it is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times. This profound thought is perfectly applicable in today’s tennis world, where the importance of video analysis is hard to overestimate. Video analysis is a helpful tool in many stages of the training process: development of proper stroke technique, injury prevention and rehabilitation, analysis of a player’s body language, strategy execution, performance evaluation and goal setting. Yet, the amazing potential of video analysis is still often overlooked even by those coaches and players who dig deep into other aspects of the training process and pre-match preparation such as equipment specifications, diet and lifestyle, customized fitness programs and periodization, and so on. I hope this article will push you to reflect on the opportunities presented by the video analysis and ensure that it is integrated into your teaching process.
To begin with, video analysis should be an integral part of both closed skill and open skill drills facilitating players’ technical development. How often do we see a coach repeatedly tell a player to correct an old mistake? Repetitive old errors in the movement are not only hurtful for a tennis player’s performance and confidence, but they can also make all parties involved – coaches, players, and parents – frustrated with the process. However, what if the issue is not the quality of a coach’s instructions or a lack of talent or focus from the young player’s part, but merely the player’s inability to envision his movement from the side? In fact, multiple research studies have shown that over 60 percent of population are visual learners. Others may prefer a different learning style, but still rely heavily on the visual information. Therefore, video analysis should become an important component of the technical development, making training more accessible, efficient, and enjoyable for players, parents, and coaches.
Installing portable cameras up on the rear fence of the court during the match play can also be a good idea, as it will allow for evaluation of strategic and mental components of the player’s performance. While for most players, in the heat of the game, it would be hard to objectively assess their actions and identify the areas for improvement in the future, video analysis offers the luxury of re-watching and re-evaluating the game a few hours or days after the match. It can provide both players and coaches with invaluable information not only in regard to the strokes execution during the match, but also strategic thinking and body language, which are all invaluable parts of the player’s tactical and mental development.
One might ask, what is the right age to start introducing video analysis into the training process? Of course, the response is that it will vary depending on the player’s needs and maturity as well as the training process format. At the same time, I am confident that even many youngsters in the “10 and Under” age group would benefit from an occasional video analysis introduced into their training sessions. Moreover, with today’s smartphone technology, video recordings do not have to be facilitated with expensive or bulky video equipment – a simple video clip of a player’s forehand or serve recorded on the phone from the sidelines could help the player, and sometimes also the coach, to see what needs to be corrected in the movement.
As technological advancements are marching forward, we are being presented with more accessible, yet quite sophisticated video analysis opportunities. It is great to see that many modern tennis clubs and facilities around the world now come with pre-installed cameras and sensors connected to interactive cloud-based video analytics platforms, which conveniently allow players to watch the videos of their matches and practices at home or on the go.
These video analytics platforms provide tournament and recreational players with a chance to obtain a professional-quality recording and evaluation of their performances during training and match play sessions. These technologies also allow us to generate numerous performance metrics such as strokes depth and speed, ball placement, and spin trajectory and velocity. Computerized modeling of a player’s movements takes us further creating opportunities for biomechanical analysis of athletes’ strokes technique and has a potential for facilitating the task of designing optimal fitness and on-court training programs helping each player individually to achieve their maximum potential. Further in this article, we will take a look at tools and resources that can facilitate and enhance the process of video analysis.
After making its impressive appearance on the American tennis horizon just a few years ago, PlaySight Interactive technology has now been introduced into numerous tennis facilities across the nation, including the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Florida. It has also been actively incorporated into NCAA college tennis matches to facilitate livestreaming. PlaySight turns a tennis court into a SmartCourt equipped with an interactive touch-screen kiosk, which allows players to view an instant replay of videos. The system creates a wide range of possibilities for enhancing training and match play experience: from audio line calling, to stroke statistics, to a variety of on-court drills and games. PlaySight is very user-friendly, allowing players to log into the PlaySight website from their desktop computer or the official app on their phone and review video-recordings and statistics.
Performa Sports is another analytics platform that is worth exploring. The platform allows to evaluate match performance and currently offers several one-year plans, at a cost ranging from $499 to $1,899 a year with a 21-day free trial. The system provides fascinating real-time and post-match performance analysis, enhanced with drawing tools, “key performance indicators” statistics, multiple camera angles, and more. A cloud-based platform synchronizes data and enables you to review replays of your matches at home. Overall, Performa Sports sounds like an amazing addition to the training process. It eases the task of player’s post-match self-reflection, improves communication between players and coaches, and helps to bring the training process to a new level.
In case you are interested in having a video recording of your match analyzed but the product options you have come across seem a little pricey, check out Cizr Tennis. In contrast to many other offers in the market, Cizr provides video analysis on a match-by-match basis, starting with a cost of $60 for a one-match package. To make delivery of the video analysis even more convenient for its users, Cizr Tennis compresses matches by extracting points and making video-replays very time-efficient.
Zepp Tennis 2 is a great tool for those who are interested in digging a little deeper into analysis of their on-court motions. For $99.99, you will receive an equipment kit includes a sensor attachable to your racquet and access to a free mobile app. This tool will allow you to analyze your swing pattern, create video highlights, and interact with others.
Finally, there are numerous free online resources that can make the process of video analysis more accessible and engaging. One such resource, Kinovea, is a software translated into several languages and focused on the study of an athlete’s movement kinetics. The software allows players to use images and videos to identify angles, length, and coordinate points of the stroke.
Whether you are a tennis professional or a club manager, I truly hope you are an active proponent of integration and promotion of video analys is. Implementation of video analysis will allow your athletes to train efficiently and smart and will add to the training process a flavor of creativity and exploration. It does not matter whether a recording is created with amateur or professional-quality equipment, video analysis can elevate the standards of teaching and become instrumental in giving a competitive edge to both you and your students.*
About Nataliya Bredikhina
Nataliya Bredikhina hails from Moscow, Russia. She graduated from the University of Maryland where she earned degrees in French and Sports in Society while also competing on the varsity women’s tennis team. After college, Nataliya coached at Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland and helped out as a women’s tennis volunteer assistant coach at her alma mater. Currently, Nataliya is a graduate student in the Sports Management MBA program at the University of Central Florida and a Communications Intern at the USPTA Headquarters in Lake Nona, Florida.