Soccer team in a huddle

Girl Power: Acing Sports Innovation With The WTA

November 3, 2014 by Ryan Somers 0

“You swing like a girl!” We’ve all heard it before – meant to criticize a male for a poor swing… but in reality, no one swings like a “girl,” or a “boy” for that matter.

Instead, you either swing like someone that’s had sufficient training, or not. There are two major distinctions between male and female competitors that are responsible for the popularity dominance toward men’s professional sports… neither of which are athleticism.

  1. Practice – Think about the disparity that’s built when a generation of parents gives baseballs to boys and Barbie dolls to girls. Generation after generation have predominantly pushed boys, not girls, toward sports. Although, the difference has been lessening since the institution of Title IX and girl-friendly youth programs.
  2. Size – It makes a difference in just about every sport and is one thing that you just can’t teach. But studies have shown that up until puberty, when boys begin building muscle at an accelerated pace, there is little gender difference in performance.

WTA-infographic_thumbWomen are using SAP technology to tighten the gap. Avid tennis fans are already enjoying simplicity in terms of fan engagement with the WTA Finals mobile application. It provides access to cool info like news, stats, fan polls, and even ticketing info within the convenience of an app.

But the latest game changer is the WTA on-court coaching app. It captures real-time data from sensors to record each play and instantly provides vital insight on things like serve direction and shot placement. Other teams in multiple sports have employed similar technological advances to their benefit. But the info collected in those sports has been utilized after the competition, just like it was in tennis for feedback and training – until now.

What’s so fascinating about the WTA on-court coaching app? It’s redefining the rules of the sport for a truly data-driven competition. Coaches were always permitted to step onto the court and offer advice (much like a trainer interacts with a boxer between rounds). But starting in 2015, they’ll be armed with tablets and some serious data to share during on-court coaching breaks.

Eugenie Bouchard’s coach, Nick Saviano, mentions a possible disadvantage for players who can’t afford a coach. But I see it differently. Reliance on a coach may become less of a differentiator because the data is so powerful. And WTA coach Wim Fissette states, “These statistics on the coaching app will make my job easier and advice more accurate during a match.” And since matches are often decided by only a few points, the visibility into player tendencies will not only make it more competitive, but increase the level of play to, yet again, provide an improved fan experience.

Advanced analytics leading toward enhanced tactics may be just what the trailblazing women of the WTA need to craft the ultimate male tennis compliment… “You swing like a girl.”

Volley with me @airsomers and on LinkedIn.

Watch how the app works:

This story originally appeared on SAP Business Trends.

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