Toni’s tips: How to use Babolat Play
April 13, 2015
For several months now, Rafael Nadal has been training with Babolat PLAY. the world’s first connected tennis racket. Thanks to the exclusive technology located inside the racket’s handle, along with the Babolat PLAY application, the Spanish player has access to data that has previously been unavailable. Nadal’s coach, Toni Nadal, synchronizes the information from Rafa’s training and matches and is particularly interested in data that helps him adjust the advice he gives his “student”. As a preview, a few hours before the Monte-Carlo tournament begins, Toni Nadal tells us about the revolutionary experience of playing connected tennis. He explains how, for Rafael Nadal, and for any tennis player, the true benefit of using a smart tennis racket lies in the ability to leverage the information beyond the raw data.
Raw data : The activity wall lets me see how many matches Rafa has played since January, (and how many were training matches), how many times he has hit the ball, and how many hours he has spent on the court.
Technical/tactical analysis : To train for a Grand Slam, Rafa needs to spend a certain amount of hours on the court each day so that his footwork, movement about the court, and his confidence are all at their optimal level. Then, Rafa focuses on specific training elements (game strategy) and trains less frequently.
This data helps us modulate the duration and intensity of his training in relation to the tournament schedule. The activity wall lets me share data on the volume and intensity of his game with our trainer so that he has access to info about Rafa’s fatigue level. Then, we can adapt the duration and content of his physical/cardio workouts.
SHOT BREAKDOWN Forehand vs. backhand
Raw data : The shot breakdown screen lets me see that during his match against a given player, Rafa had a specific percentage of forehand shots and a specific percentage of backhand shots.
Technical/tactical analysis : Rafa has his own particular style, based on the quality of his forehand, his main weapon. Whether it’s a training match or an official one, we’ve observed that when 70% of Rafa’s shots are forehand and 30% are backhand, he is moving around the court well, that he is using his inside out forehand, and that he is staying aggressive. These stats show that, in general, he is dominating his opponent and playing well.
SHOT BREAKDOWN Shot diversity
Raw data : Details on the use of his backhand show me the number of backhands with topspin that Rafa has hit, the number of backhand slices, and the number of flat backhand shots he has made.
Technical/tactical analysis : It’s important to be able to see the various types of shots that Rafa is using during his matches. A high number of slices means that he is playing too defensively. It could also indicate that he’s using a strategy we had agreed upon to break up the rhythm, or to force his opponent to play lower shots. Rafa has made a tremendous amount of progress on his backhand throughout his career and we are always looking for ways to further improve his performance so that his backhand remains a key weapon in his arsenal.
MATCHES & TRAINING Topspin
Raw data : The detail provided on forehand shots shows me the average level of spin that Rafa expends on his forehand.
Technical / tactical analysis : Rafa’s main advantage here is the quality and power of his topspin. We are constantly striving to improve it so that he can push his opponents to the limit. Getting info on the spin is important for evaluating the quality of Rafa’s shots, to see if he is in good shape, moving about the court well, and feeling confident. During training, we can use his stats to work on the small technical details. This is important for different court surfaces, so that he can adapt and make his shots a bit flatter on a hard court or a grass court.
IMPACT LOCATOR Service Impact Locator + flat/with spin
Raw data : Data on Rafa’s serves and from the Impact Locator give us information about how many times he’s served, how many serves were flat or with spin. It also shows the percentage of times that he hit the ball in the center of his racket, on the side, …
Technical/tactical analysis : The Impact Locator’s analysis lets us see if Rafa’s shots are close to the sweet spot and gives us an idea of what kind of shape he is in (footwork, shot strategy).
Raw data : You can find out how many times you have played, how many times you have hit the ball, and how many hours you have spent on the court.
Technical/tactical analysis : As in any sport, to perform at a high level, you have to spend a lot of time training. If you want to improve, you can try training an additional number of times per week, hitting the ball an additional number of times per training session, or increasing the time you spend on the court by a given percentage per month. Tennis is an individual sport and you have to hit the ball thousands of times before mastering a shot.
Raw data : You’ve hit a certain percentage of your shots in the center of the racket, a certain percentage at the top of the racket …
Technical/tactical analysis : The Impact Locator plays an important role in evaluating your game. If a high percentage of your shots are made from the bottom part of your string bed, it’s likely that you are too close to the ball or that you hit the ball too late. You might want to begin executing a bit sooner. If a high percentage of your shots are at the top of the racket, you might be too far from the ball or could be missing a step in your footwork. If a high percentage of your shots are to the right or left, that may be a result of the spin you put on the ball but could also be because you are not watching the ball closely enough to be able to hit it in the center of the string bed.
Finally, if you want a fast serve, the most efficient spot on the racket is just above the center of the sweet spot (considering the speed of the ball and the optimal angle needed to reach the service box). In this case, a certain percentage of your balls should be hitting at the top of the racket.
VARIOUS TYPES OF SHOTS
Raw data : You’ve hit a given number of topspin shots, slices and flat shots.
Technical/tactical analysis : In tennis, it is important to master all the different types of shots to be able to vary your game in reaction to your opponent. If the data shows that you didn’t have a lot of topspin, it may mean that your game is too flat. You may want to slightly change the way you hold your racket, or change your technique. This can give the ball more speed and “weight”. If you’re not hitting a lot of slices, try to vary your game, hitting lower, so that you surprise your opponent. If you don’t have many flat shots, you could try a longer follow- through to give the ball more speed, so that you surprise your opponent.
Also try to vary your game by alternating between your forehand and backhand. The Skills function gives you a clear view of how well you master the various shots.