Tennis Industry magazine

 

High-Tech Tennis Toys for Fun and Profit

By Dr. Robert F. Heller

As a sports psychology consultant and father of a 13-year-old son, it’s hard to escape the fact that for better or worse, technology and electronics are a major part of our lives. Whether you own a store, manage a shop, direct a tennis facility, or teach lessons for a living, learning about different products and how to incorporate them into what you do can lead to increased fun and profits.

In this article, I will describe a number of products I use or am familiar with. I have chosen to focus on products that are relatively low cost, easy to use, and do not require any extensive training.

With a little research and a small amount of marketing, stores could allocate a “Peak Performance” corner and promote a variety of products tennis consumers would likely buy and benefit from, while tennis professionals could incorporate them into their lessons and clinics, generating more interest and income.

Heart-Rate Monitors

Portable heart-rate monitors have been around for a while. They consist of a belt or strap that attaches around your chest and transmits to a watch-style receiver worn on the wrist. These devices give you constant feedback on how hard your heart is working during exercise.

The “beats per minute” number shows on your wristwatch screen and can be set to emit a sound if you go above or below a preset level. Heart-rate monitors allow you to train more efficiently to condition your heart and make training more interesting by setting goals and objectively seeing how you are doing

Generally, recommendations are for you to exercise between 65 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. The standard heart-rate calculation is 220 minus your age multiplied by the desired percentage.

Polar (polarusa.com) is probably the most popular manufacturer and has a series of monitors with various bells and whistles. Prices start at $39.95 for the basic A1 model and go up to $399.95 for the AXN 700. The products are widely available at sporting goods stores and department stores. Heart-rate monitors also can be a part of the TIA/USTA’s new Cardio Tennis program. As a revenue source, monitors can be sold or rented to participants.

Ultimate Balance Trainer

This new product is a bio-feedback type of device that let’s you know if you are bending or lunging “too much” and creating an “unbalanced” hitting plane. The device, which I tested as a prototype a few years ago, is attached to a sports cap, hat, or visor by a Velcro strip.

The Ultimate Balance Trainer is quiet when you move in balance, but when you are out of balance, you hear, “front,” “back,” “left,” or “right” to let you know you are moving out of position. The sensitivity level can be adjusted to the skills level of the player, permitting more or less movement before the warning goes off. It is battery operated and there are no wires.

The device can be useful and motivating as part of a lesson on movement and balance. It’s available through ultimatebalance.com for $195. A variety of accessories is available at additional cost.

Blood Pressure/Pulse Rate Monitors

To assist in learning to control worry and tension, the Omron digital blood pressure monitor is simple to use, provides immediate results, and costs under $50. You wrap the cuff on your arm, hit a button, and it automatically inflates. A few moments later your blood pressure and pulse rate appear on the screen.

To train, sit quietly for 15 minutes as you breathe slowly and deeply, concentrating only on your breath. Take your readings again and record them on a sheet of paper. After a few weeks of practice, you will see and feel the difference. It’s available at most drugstores chains.

Computer and Video Tennis Games

Kids love video games. Tennis video games can excite kids about playing tennis, can be used as part of a rainy-day program, or incorporated into a tennis camp program during lunch or quiet time.

One popular game is Virtua Tennis by Sega. “Sega did an excellent job making sure even those unfamiliar with the rules and strategies of tennis will be able to jump right into the game,” says one reviewer. Virtua Tennis and similar products can be purchased through amazon.com. Used versions are available for under $10.

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About the Author

Dr. Robert F. Heller  is a psychologist and consultant in the areas of performance enhancement and stress management. He is the author of Mental Skills for Match Play and Mental Toughness. For information on telephone consultation, products, and other services, contact robertheller@adelphia.net, thewinningedge.usptapro.com, or 561-451-2731. He is based in Boca Raton, Fla.

 

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