This is How We Volley Part 2: From Paint Sticks to AI
While racquet sports like platform tennis, pickleball, and padel have taken off in popularity, it’s still challenging for players to really focus on their own needs and improve. To that end, replicating shots is not always possible, nor is finding court time, pro time, or time with three other like-minded players. For most people, shots like waterfalls, knicks, and back-side screens, are not easy to cue up during a match, lesson,or even less in a friendly game.
Considering how far our technology has come in the last 40 years, we quickly realized that vision technology and AI could power a dynamic racquet sports trainer, so Dan and I set out to change the game.
At the onset of our journey to creating Volley, I used a traditional ball machine propped on paint sticks, making it taller and more mobile to accommodate shots I wanted to practice. To my surprise, other players expressed interest in my setup, even asking if they could buy one!
2018 Model showing the ball machine propped up by paint sticks.
To create our ultimate trainer, we conducted research, re-modeled existing ball machines, and tried it out with our paddle friends in our hometown of Lancaster, PA. Players were frustrated with the limitations of traditional machines–they couldn't assess a player's position, gauge court dimensions, or replicate shots from tricky angles common in platform tennis. Finally, after three years of development and eight prototypes, we released the Volley Trainer. We offered more than anyone expected –tailored lesson plans, live-play scenarios, video practice footage, and instant feedback. We recognized how this would assist our teaching professionals, allowing for more time next to their players demonstrating technique without having to feed balls.
Look for Part 3: Going Deep in Tech
John Weinlader is the CEO of Volley, the innovator of the first AI-enabled racquet sports training experience.
Volley, the premier 2023-24 APTA Sponsor, is modernizing racquet sports with the first AI-enabled training experience. Backed by cutting-edge technology, Volley delivers the on-demand, dynamic system for live play training and better workouts. Volley creates a community to connect pros and players while giving users personalized performance insights to track progress and customize their practice via a smartphone app. Volley supports pros with new ways to interact with players, helps facilities boost program participation, and provides everyone with more opportunities to play the game they love. For more information, visit getvolley.com.