Love them or hate them, drones are here to stay, and then some. Drones first saw active engagement on the battlefields around the world as a means to deliver a payload to strike militants and other unsavory characters, or carry out a reconnaissance mission without having to endanger the life of a pilot for the simple fact that there is no human pilot on board the drone itself. In more recent times, the word "drone" have also been used to describe fun "toys" that are flown around, more often than not capturing a panoramic view from above that will inspire wonder for the viewers. How about enrolling a drone as part of your tennis game training?
This is exactly what happened with the aptly nicknamed 'Drone-ovic' as a reference to the current top player in the tennis world, Novak Djokovic. The Drone-ovic from Virgin Active is a drone that intends to help you improve your tennis game. How does it do so? It will not bounce balls endlessly on the court before the serve, but rather, has been specially designed to drop balls onto the court from a slew of angles as well as great heights -- something which traditional ball machines are unable to do.
With balls being dropped from the air, you will be able to improve your serve as well as returns from a variety of situations, and Virgin Active has also outfitted the Drone-ovic with a small 4K camera so that both players and their respective coaches will be able to obtain a bird's eye view of their game. While there is no existing algorithm at the moment that enables one to analyze technical aspects one's performance, the human coach with his or her experience will have to do for the moment.
Virgin Active's Head of Racquets, Gary Stewart, shared, "The great thing about Drone-ovic is it recreates the serve and smash experience with greater accuracy. By dropping tennis balls from high and unexpected angles it keeps members on their toes and improves technique and agility."
At this point in time, the Drone-ovic is undergoing trials at Virgin Active's Collection Club in Northwood. A team of experts are controlling it, and if one were to carefully notice, there is a thin, plastic line from which the ball is suspended. Each time the ball is prepared for a release, the line will detach from a hook within the drone, letting gravity do the rest of the job as the player awaits to seize the moment as tennis racquet and ball come into contact with one another. We do wonder just how long should a training session with the Drone-ovic last, taking into consideration how one would be looking up most of the time in order to anticipate the path of the falling tennis ball.
Do enjoy a video of the Drone-ovic in action below. So far, there has been no word on pricing or availability, but it would be an interesting arsenal to your collection of training tools when it comes to upping the ante on the tennis court.