Over the past couple of years at least half a dozen corporations have tried marketing sensors which calibrate and measure a tennis player’s stroke methodology, or, as in my case, a lack of methodology. Analysis is always useful; in the case of Zepp Tennis, you’re buying a swing sensor that can also be useful for sports like golf, baseball, cricket, squash, volleyball and even badminton. I’ve never been anything beyond amusing as a performer in American sports, but they play tennis everywhere, so that seemed like the best idea, analysis-wise.
It wasn’t difficult to download onto my iPad, and is just as easy to set up on your iPhone or Android devices via Bluetooth. It was a bit of a hassle to slide the mounting sleeve onto the grip, but it’s really just a patience thing because plastic never gives smoothly. Be sure to calibrate the sensor before you begin. You’ll need to gently lay the racquet flat on the court concentrating on the sensor, which is positioned in the upper left corner. After that the app instructs you on how to calibrate. If you bollix it up at this stage—it’s something that’s easy to forget until it becomes automatic—the sensor will suffer from disorientation, skewing all the data it spews, offering up inaccurate reference information for your stroke. Indeed, my serve was calculated as having less than 39 percent accuracy. Of course, I am no John Newcombe, but it’s of no matter because no one knows who he is anymore anyway.
At any rate, this is one of the few ways in which things can go wrong. Keeping my iPad close to the sensor made for a good reminder until calibration became a habit. Simply put, my form, although it didn’t necessarily ‘look’ better to the naked eye, still improved measurably. Every single kind of shot improved, as did all my stats.
How exactly does Zepp help you? Do you get your $150’s-worth? Most specifically, a play-tracking mode classifies and grades the number of shots per stroke: your backhand, forehand, and smash get the analytical, treatment. Although not volleys. I don’t know why! Every shot—good, bad, tired or indifferent (and it won’t hurt if you keep notes!) is even methodologized into a sum of its own unique kind of spin: topspin, slice, and flat. And, yeah, I know that a number of those sliced forehands will actually be, technically, volleys. Coolest of all, the measurement of the G-Spot where you connect with the ball on the string bed. You want to know where your sweet spot is, don’t you?
Each and every one of your strokes is calibrated, and measured for power before being reported on a graph which carefully analyzes the variances in shots over time during the, say, hour of court time you booked. That way, week in and week out, you really can draw a pretty accurate measure of yourself and what tends to happen when doing comparatives are drawn with opponents, especially after six or seven matches with the same one.
Less useful is the 3D service feature. It’s basically an all angle top-down, side-to-side etch-a-sketch-type rendition of your player’s form. It reproduces racquet speed, backswing time, possible power potential, spin calibration, and impact analysis. It’s pretty sexy and nice to show off to your coach or in-the-know friends, but it tends, from my point of view, to burrow into your brain, and constantly form doubts about your physical form. Perhaps it will be integrated as an actual tool in future models?
Doubt-wise, a friend of mine has difficulties with the grip. He’s got huge hands and compensates for feeling the tip of the grip by gripping too tightly at the handle tip. Indeed, one final common problem is the actual weight of the grip. It adds 20 grams to the end of your racquet, which is approximately 357 grams already. So it’s not for the sensitive petites and lightweights, which means business from many women and children isn’t on the agenda for the time being.
The Zepp sensor is a superb tool for practice analysis. If you’re new to the game, enjoy it, and can’t afford expensive coaching, I think it’s definitely worth the investment.