An Inside Look at Babolat Play Pure Drive
In addition to your tennis racquet, balls, bags, and accessories, you'll soon be bringing your smart phone every time you hit the courts.

At least, that's Babolat's hope.

On December 12, 2013, Babolat will release the Pure Drive Play ($399)--a "connected" racquet that, when synced to the Babolat Play app in your mobile device, will record various stats, including, but not limited to:

  •  Type of Stroke: forehand, backhand, smash, or serve

  •  Type of Spin: topspin, slice, or flat -- all for each stroke

  •  Impact Locator: where the ball is making contact with the strings

  •  Pulse: data about your power, technique, and endurance

  • Total Shots

  •  Best Rally

We spent this past week in Colorado at Babolat's U.S. headquarters, celebrating the launch of this amazing new technology.

"Since the 1870s, we have seen so many advances in the game of tennis," remarked Babolat CEO Eric Babolat. "Now, we are opening a new book and redefining the game as we know it. Babolat Play will help players learn more about their game and will help them progress."

Everyone knows that smart phones are amazing, so much so that "there's an app for that" has become as ubiquitous as "Got Milk?" or "Just Do It." But, until now, there hasn't been a smart phone app that can give you your own real-time stats to help improve your tennis game.

How to Get Started

On the butt cap of the handle, there are two buttons: the power button and the Bluetooth connectivity button. The racquet uses Bluetooth technology to communicate wirelessly with your Babolat Play Pure Drive tennis racquet. Before using it on the courts, you create a login profile and fill out some basic info about yourself. Then you pair the racquet with the app itself (be sure that your Bluetooth is turned to "on" in your phone or tablet). After you successfully pair your Pure Drive with the app, you're ready to play.

How to Record Data

Using the app and Pure Drive racquet is easy, even if you don't consider yourself tech savvy. To begin recording data, simply hold the power button on the butt cap until you see a blinking, blue light, which signifies that the racquet is now collecting data. Now it's time to take to the courts.

During the beginning profile set-up, you will fill out if you're right-handed or left-handed, so the Play Pure Drive can easily discern the difference between a forehand or a backhand. Thanks to a gyroscope and an accelerometer in the chip within the handle, the racquet can assess the angle of the racket and distance from the ground, allowing it to recognize spin, smashes and serves vs. forehands and backhands. We practiced all types of shots and the racquet got them all right.

"The racquet feels and plays like a traditional Pure Drive," says tennis pro and Holabird Sports Retail Manager Sol Schwartz. "I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two."

After you are finished with your session, hold the Bluetooth button (on the buttcap) until you see a flashing, purple light, which signifies it's time to sync the racquet with the app. After tapping the racquet icon in the top right corner of the app homepage, you will begin to see the data upload. You can then identify your session as training or a match, choose a court surface, and more.

This is where the fun comes in. You can see your skills—power, technique, and endurance—measured in a percentage from 0 to 100. "A 100% score reflects the abilities of a top-20 ATP player," noted the Babolat Play Team.

This means you can compare yourself to the likes of Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams. However, if it's too startling to see that your shots are only half as powerful as Djokovic's, you can always compare yourself to the Babolat Play community through Global Rankings—allowing you to see how you stack up to your friends and other non-Grand-Slam-winning players.

"The rankings are fun," sad Sol. "But being able to see stats such as type of spin and where I'm hitting the ball on the racket…that will be a big help to any player."

In addition to the aforementioned stats, the "Skills" portion of the app allows players to tackle challenges and advance from the "Beginner" level to "Galactic" and "Unlimited" levels. Users can also see their all-time records for most power, longest rally, and more.

A fully charged racquet will ensure six to seven hours of play (the racquet requires no more than three hours to charge fully). Each Babolat Play Pure Drive comes complete with a charger.

This is truly an incredible piece of technology, perfect for tennis players of all ability levels. As Eric Babolat told us at the end of his presentation: "Welcome to the future of tennis."

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The Babolat Pure Drive Play tennis racquet will be available this December. Be one of the first to know! Sign up to receive an email as soon as they're in: