drones and AI to coach tennis players

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In a few weeks, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will say goodbye to professional tennis, and it will be Roland Garros. Soon to be retired, the former number 5 in world tennis obviously has a head full of projects, and one of them concerns the training of the future since it incorporates the use of a drone.

In partnership with the manufacturer parrotthe champion presented on Wednesday « the coach of tomorrow, the coach 2.0 » as he calls him at the microphone of Grandstand Côte d’Azur. It was at the National Sports Museum and as part of the World Artificial Intelligence Cannes Festival. This trainer of the future takes the form of a drone that films all movements of a player in training. Using a application, the coach and the player can observe the impact of the balls in the racket, the complete gesture, but also the movements on the court. The drone can also record data on game conditions such as speed of wind and temperature.

An autonomous drone

Like the cameras placed in basketball halls, around football pitches or even in swimming pools, the aim is to improve the athlete’s performance by taking advantage of this mine of information: a poorly centered ball, a backhand attack that is too low, an amplitude that is too low on a forehand…” This is to help coaches collect very precise data, which can be decisive in the progress of our young players and more experienced players. “, explains Tsonga, whose the academy, located in Villeneuve-Loubetwill soon benefit from this new feature.

Does this device require the presence ofa drone pilot, able to place the device in the right place for the shots? The answer is « no » since the tennis player specifies that the drone is programmed and that it is therefore autonomous, and that is where theIntelligence artificial comes into play. Of course, we imagine that the device does not fly too low since a lob or even a defensive blow could hit it.

The French champion will equip his academy with this state-of-the-art equipment. © Tribune Côte d’Azur, YouTube

The “drone-ovic” experience…

The idea of ​​involving a drone in the training of a tennis player is not new. A few years ago, in tribute to Novak Djokovic, the former world number 1, appeared on drone ovic. At the time, Virgin Active came up with the idea of ​​creating a ball-throwing drone to improve their serve and smash. In fact, the ball was connected to a small wire, itself connected to a hook in the drone.  » The Drone-ovic recreates the service and spike experience with greater precisionexplained Gary Stewart, head of tennis at Virgin Active in Northwood. Throwing tennis balls at unexpected high angles keeps players on their toes and improves technique and agility. »

As it was equipped with a 4K camerathis drone already made it possible to film the players, and thus to show the coaches details on the gestures of the players, which we do not necessarily see when we have our eyes at pitch level.

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