Tennis Tech Review: Babolat Play Pure Drive

Photo courtesy of Babolat

Photo courtesy of Babolat

The recently introduced Babolat Play Pure Drive ($399 USD) brings the tennis community access to performance data to which only athletes like runners and cyclists were privy to for years. The Babolat Play has the appearance of a traditional racquet (all the same specs as the Babolat Pure Drive), yet sensors embedded in its handle gather a plethora of valuable data to assist players in improving their games.

The cache of stored data from a match or training includes number and type of strokes, power, spin, playtime, and impact locator, among other categories. Weighing 10.6 ounces (300 grams), the Babolat Play incorporates two buttons and a USB port into the butt of the handle so as to not affect the racquet’s performance on the court. Tennis junkies can run drills or work the ball machine for six hours before the battery will need to be recharged, and the memory can hold 150 hours of playtime.

Perhaps Babolat Play Pure Drive will help to revolutionize how tennis athletes train, or at the very least assist in ushering the sport into 21st century technology. Before players can hit the court with this new tech, they first need to download a smartphone app, which must then be linked with the racquet via Bluetooth or a USB cable that plugs into the handle. If the individual doesn’t have a smartphone, the same process can be followed on personal computers and tablets. Once the player’s profile has been created on the app, he or she is now ready to put the Babolat Play into action.

Data gathered during play is uploaded into the profile and compared against previous sessions. Information logged under the broad range of categories comprises what the folks at Babolat have labeled the “Pulse.” Endurance, technique, and power combine to create a player’s Pulse. Power is judged by how strong an individual hits the ball. Technique is calculated by how consistently the person can hit the ball in each shot’s “sweet spot” on the racquet. Endurance is the combination of the frequency of play and the ability to sustain strong movements.

However, when you dash to your smartphone at the end of a match, you won’t have to wade through one large clump of data. Players are able to tag sessions in real time. This more or less means you can break down match data by sets or examine training periods in greater detail to analyze your game’s strengths and weaknesses.

But it almost seems natural that the company that invented racquet strings should be responsible for drastically advancing tennis racquet technology for mainstream use. Babolat is a French company that dates back to 1875 and is the oldest company in the world to specialize in racquet sports. Today, Babolat offers a range of tennis and badminton products.