Technique app revolutionises coaching
Small, cheap and accessible, the Tennis Australia Technique app is changing the landscape of tennis coaching in Australia.
It’s astonishing how something so small, cheap and accessible is changing the landscape of tennis coaching in Australia.
But that’s exactly what Tennis Australia’s Technique App is doing. Valued at just $2.99, it’s available for download onto both iPad and iPhone, making the technology available in the palm of your hand and easy to pocket away.
Launched at the annual Coaches’ Conference just prior to Australian Open 2013, the app has already enjoyed approximately 1,500 downloads, including many in overseas markets. There’s interest in the app from Britain’s Lawn Tennis Association and the Australian federations for gymnastics and cycling, among others.
The app’s immediate and significant popularity stems from the features it offers, and the ease with which they can be incorporated into the coaching setting. Coaches can record players in high definition hitting strokes which can then be compared to the app’s “model” stroke footage – either side-by-side or via overlay – with a set synchronisation point, providing players with immediate feedback about their technique. Analysis can be augmented through the app’s annotation tools, allowing coaches to draw lines, measure angles, insert text and shapes, record voice-over and take screen shots.
“Learn Mode” provides model strokes in video, image and audio form for the red (ages 5-8), orange (ages 8-10), green (ages 9-12) and yellow (the standard tennis ball) level of player development, meaning coaches can tailor their use of the app to make it age and standard-appropriate. And with the app offering the ability to manage video files and easily share them via email, YouTube and DropBox, it serves as a great communication tool between coaches and players, and young players’ parents.
Tennis Australia’s manager of coach and talent development Geoff Quinlan said that the technique app, which took 12 months to develop through a partnership between Tennis Australia and Belgravia Technologies, assisted coaches in being up-to-date with the latest technology, much like their young players.
“The human eye can only catch so much, but this app captures 30 frames per second, and you also have the ability to rewind and fast-forward,” Quinlan explained.
“The app is perfect for people who are time poor, and can be used in real time; therefore, instead of doing video analysis maybe once or twice per year (as was the case with earlier forms of video analysis), coaches can incorporate this technology into all training sessions, every day.”
Coaches are singing the technique app’s praises.
Tim Connelly, head coach at Complete Tennis Services and based in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, began using the app immediately following the Coaches’ Conference. He recalls the days of using Dartfish and Swinger video analysis software, and how this process has been streamlined since introducing the app into his lessons.
“Programs like Swinger and Dartfish each cost around $1000, and you actually have to film the video on a digital camera, hook that up to a computer and download the files,” he said.
“However, the time that the technique app saves is amazing. In a 30-minute private lesson, I would use the app for around five minutes at the start. I film the initial stroke or technique, and compare it to the ideal, model stroke. People learn more visually, not orally, yet it’s been hard in the past to show players’ technique back to them. Sometimes I’ll see something (that needs correcting) that I’ll then film on the spot and show back to them.
“I feel the price of this app doesn’t do it justice – it could easily be worth so much more.”
Connelly said that the app’s high definition and instant playback had been crucial in helping his players better understand concepts and make valuable corrections to their game.
“It should be an essential coaching tool – it’s just as important to me as having tennis balls. Sometimes it’s hard for me to assess my players’ technique when I’m coaching down the other end of the court, but I pick up heaps more when I’m filming,” he said.
“Since having the app, the amount of ‘light-bulb’ moments in the past five or six weeks for students has been greater than compared to all of last year.”
Connelly stressed that the app was extremely intuitive, even for those not confident with using new technologies. And for those worried about using up their iPad or iPhone storage, Connelly suggested using the video-sharing functions regularly to clear devices while simultaneously communicating with players and parents.
With all video content embedded, coaches don’t require wifi access – often unavailable when they’re coaching outdoors – to activate all the app’s functions. And Quinlan added that anytime the app was improved, all that was required was the download of an update, rather than needing to purchase an entirely new program.
“Coming soon will be a folder system to place videos of different athletes, some extra analysis tools, and more functionality around the recording tool,” he said.
“The technique app will be on android in six weeks, and the update for iPhone is expected to be available within the next month.”