In a WTA tennis match, players are allowed to call their coaches onto court… but they may only have 90 seconds to do so. The coach’s feedback is crucial, as it can change the tide of the match completely. In the past, this conversation was only based on opinions, as the coaches didn’t have any tools to support their observations.
Today, SAP Tennis Analytics for Coaches provides insight to help players and coaches in real-time by translating data from the umpires scoring of the match and 10 on-court cameras into the tablet application. The coaches and players now have an objective tool that they can mutually trust. With real-time data provided to them at a glance, the coaches will have more time to focus on driving insights to their players more efficiently and effectively.
During our design process, we faced two noteworthy opponents. Our first opponent: content. Today, advanced technology may help tennis coaches gain more access to data than ever before, but too much data is just as bad as no data. To overcome this, we started our exploration by talking to our user. We then sketched our design, built the wireframes, and iterated on them until the design become digestible and insightful.
Once the design matured enough to be digitized and viewed on a tablet, we went onto the court with the coaches. We observed the coach’s interaction with the tablet at work, and adjusted our design according to their behavior and feedback. We maximized the court real estate on the screen, which is where the coaches focus on the most, and minimized the navigation UIs by moving them to the side of the screen. This way, the coaches can simply use their left and right thumbs to move from screen to screen without taking their eyes or hands off the tablet while analyzing the game.
On the court we found our second opponent, the environment. Tennis is a sport that can be played and viewed under such extreme conditions. Intense sunlight can cause low-contrast screen to become invisible. This caused our early iteration of the app that had low-contrast color scheme to fail completely when tested under the sun. To make the matter worse, many coaches also tend to wear sunglasses while using the application, which muted the colors and rendered the app nearly useless. To overcome this opponent, we created different modes for both indoor and outdoor viewing, and changed the color scheme to high-contrast, saturated colors to optimize the screen legibility under challenging light conditions.
We launched the application in August during the 2015 Bank of the West Classic tennis tournament. 70% of the player community tried the app, for real-time match play and for scouting. This includes Angelique Kerber, world number 11, who also happened to be the tournament winner.
We’re excited to have come this far, but our journey to improve SAP Tennis Analytics for Coaches and elevate women’s tennis to the next level is far from over. We’re looking forward to seeing you in our next match!