Former Slovenian Davis Cup captain Aleš Filipčić boasts a rich history in tennis and now he is looking to bring new innovation into the mainstream game through a new tech accessory: Armbeep. Armbeep is a device worn on the wrist which allows you to track your progress during a match and analyse it afterwards by linking to the Armbeep app automatically via Bluetooth. You can check everything from activity on court, heart rate, number of shots and distribution, shots per rally, rally tempo, shot power, and more with the mobile app.
The All Court Tennis Club sat down with Aleš to discuss the tech innovation that’s already helping players of all levels improve their game.
Aleš, tell us about the vision behind Armbeep
We have been working on the Armbeep project for five years. We are working with two devices to collect the data; the Armbeep tracker and the Apple Watch. Then all the data collected on court is presented through the Armbeep app. This can help the communication channels between the coach, the player and their parents by giving them a platform to see what happened on court with data and not just subjective opinion.
What data can a player see when they come off court?
Firstly, we can assess the heart rate and cardio load for a player. Then we have a chance to analyse their movement in four speed zones. The first group are time indicators that show the activity times and how long the ball was in play for. We can also look at data around the length of a rally, rest periods and the number of shots. We can look at overhead shots, forehands and backhands and we are also working to recognise volleys and other shot styles. We can also estimate the expected number of shots in a minute.
Can you get data on the weight of shots?
Yes, we can also measure power and speed for each shot. We measure the wrist movement 100 milliseconds before contact point and 150 milliseconds after the contact point. This allows players and coaches to follow trends when they are on court and look at the data over a weekly, monthly and yearly trend pattern.
Could this piece of technology help with injury prevention for tennis players?
Another part of Armbeep technology is that it allows you to analyse the hitting load on the body. This means the player and coach can see the load on the playing shoulder during that session. This can be very important to assess whether they are pushing too hard or if they can go further. We can also assess the quality of their recovery and recuperation after a session.
What data should players look out for if they are looking to avoid injury?
Our tracker data tells us that 400 and 600 shots per hour is the optimal number for a practice session. Players at the top of the game down to recreational players shouldn’t do more than that as it can be a cause for injury. That’s important information for players to have. We can also look at what shot players are working on and if they are focusing too much on one shot, which could be another cause for injury.
Will Armbeep be more useful to players or coaches?
It’s a good question. We have moved towards using the Apple Watch app and this means more recreational players will start to use Armbeep. We have also had some very positive feedback from the parents of young players who want to see how their children are progressing. They are investing a lot of money in tennis for their kids and they like to see some data that highlights what they are working on with their coach.
Is tennis playing catch up compared to other sports with technology?
There is an article in the New York Times from 2016 and I use it in all of my presentations, the title of the piece is ‘Tennis is a Data Dinosaur’, which says it all. We are still behind, but innovations like Armbeep can change that. We want to motivate tennis players to utilise their playing data as it can help anyone at the top level and add to the enjoyment and understanding for recreational players alike.