If you know how to use the Apple Watch, you might know that it’s great for tracking basic walks or runs, but it’s also capable of tracking a wide variety of workout types and sports. In my case, these types of workouts often inspire me to try activities that I wouldn’t otherwise do.
Take tennis, for example. I played tennis as a teenager and even took a few lessons to learn the game. It didn’t last then, but I recently rediscovered an interest after reading that tennis is l one of those “lifetime” sports that you can play for decades, like golf. And after seeing that my Apple Watch had a preset designed to track tennis in the workout app, the promise to close my Apple Watch rings motivated me to hit up my local court.
It’s one thing to play tennis in Switch Sports on my Nintendo Switch. Holding the worn handle of my old racquet in my hand while bouncing a tennis ball fresh out of the box on concrete is something else entirely. It’s something that was soothing at first and then a bit brave as I started moving around the court for a volley with my dad.
Track tennis with Apple Watch
The workout app in watchOS 9 has been redesigned, but the Apple Watch has been able to track tennis for several years. It doesn’t have automatic tracking like outdoor walking, running, or biking, so I had to locate and launch the workout among all the choices on my wrist (although I could have asked Siri too to begin tennis practice.)
As is the case with the majority of workout types, the Apple Watch Series 7 on my wrist monitored my heart rate, calories burned, and elapsed time for tennis. Again, these are the same measurements I saw when I tried wearing my Apple Watch for hot yoga and paddleboarding with my Apple Watch.
It took me some time to remember the rhythm of the game and refine my form. But eventually, I picked up my pace on the court, as evidenced by my heart rate. I kept my Apple Watch on my left wrist, where I normally wear it, so it wouldn’t get in the way of my right-hand serves or forearm shots. While it’s one of the best smartwatches for sports, it’s snug enough on my wrist that it won’t get in the way of backhand shots either. Meanwhile, the snug Solo Loop, one of Apple Watch’s best bands, held the device securely on my wrist.
By the time I got tired, I had burned almost 200 calories, which significantly reduced my activity rings. I also came home from court with a clear head, feeling like the movement offered a kind of meditation that I could find in Apple Fitness Plus or the Headspace app I started using recently.
SwingVision for Apple Watch
If you’re looking to take your tennis game to the next level, you might want to learn more about SwingVision. As one of the best Apple Watch apps for sports (it was even featured in an Apple Watch commercial), SwingVision leverages AI as well as Apple device technology to create comprehensive reports on how you play.
I had the opportunity to try out SwingVision with representatives from the company, incorporating a demonstration of the technology into a short tennis lesson. The program required two devices for data collection: an iPad Pro overlooking the field from a very large tripod and the Apple Watch on my wrist. But unlike playing tennis alone, I had to switch my watch to my right hand for accurate swing analysis.
During the lesson, the SwingVision app on my wrist tracked my heart rate, calories, distance traveled, and stroke count. And after each individual shot, I could see specific details about my swing. Based on the movement of my wrist, SwingVision identified the type of shot I made, the speed at which I hit the ball, and the spin rate of the ball. It quickly became a game for me to swing as fast as possible while keeping my shots in play.
For close calls to the lines, recording the iPad Pro could review the game thanks to the device’s 12MP Ultra Wide camera. Then, after the session, we looked at the data collected by the iPad Pro to see how I was doing.
The SwingVision AI can filter each shot in the session based on the type of swing I made and if the shot was in or out. It can display data on the terrain graphics map, as well as create video highlight reels – or low light reels, if you’re looking to work on problem areas. Data and videos are then easily shared with a coach or parent.
Should you try SwingVision?
As someone who loves sports stats, SwingVision provides all the juicy data I want to know. Unfortunately, becoming the next Serena Williams isn’t in the cards for me, so I don’t know what this data will help me with.
Still, the free tier of SwingVision supports up to two hours of shot tracking, video analysis, and cloud storage per month. That’s probably more time than I’ll have to play on a monthly basis, making it a no-brainer to continue using the app for shot tracking from my wrist. I mean, how else will I know if I’m getting better in slices?
I don’t think I’ll use it with an iPad Pro, mainly because I don’t own an iPad Pro and it requires setup before playing. SwingVision sells a closeout bracket that is supposed to make it easier to start a session, but again, I’m comfortable in the “casual player” category.
That’s not to say I don’t see the value in the full experience. In fact, it’s great to see in-depth sports data democratized in a way that anyone can work on their game. Apparently the only way to get the kind of data that SwingVision formulated a few years ago was with a $10,000 system installed on Pro-only courts. Now, with a $149.99/year SwingVision subscription, any player and coach has access to highly advanced tennis data using select Apple devices.