This isn’t your grandfather’s pickleball court. AI sports video company PlaySight is installing its automated camera systems at thousands of pickleball clubs in the U.S. to provide operators and players with live streaming, automated highlights, instant replay, and coaching analytics.
“We are able to track player movement, positions, strokes, speed of the ball, spin,” Playsight co-founder and CEO Chen Shachar told NoVolleys. “The first feature we are going to launch is automated highlights. For maybe $5 per session, you’ll be able to get automated highlights of your match that you’ll be able to post to your social media.”
PlaySight has struck partnerships with court operators Ace Pickleball Club, Pickleball Kingdom, and Pickle Rage. “Just between those three partnerships, we expect to be in over 1,000 clubs,” said Matt Gibson, VP of North America at PlaySight.
Mobile coaching app My Pickleball Coach and court booking app Playbypoint have also partnered with PlaySight for integrations across pickleball, tennis, and padel.
An Easy Transition From Tennis
PlaySight was founded in Israel and has a history of working with major tennis organizations such as the USTA and IMG Academy and more than 100 college tennis programs. About 20 NBA teams are also clients of PlaySight.
“Because of our background in tennis, pickleball was a really easy transition for us,” Gibson said. “We had a lot of companies and franchises reaching out to us before even marketing it that much.”
PlaySight recently launched GoMobile, a camera system that runs on smartphones as an alternative to the company’s traditional SmartCourt Go portable camera system.
“Most of these facilities we work with, members can just walk onto courts and scan a QR code to get videos directly to their account,” Gibson said. “That user experience is honestly the most important piece because it’s very hands off for the facility, the member doesn’t have to request the facility to send the video.”
Can PlaySight’s Cameras Support Officiating?
Professional leagues such as the PPA Tour and Major League Pickleball have introduced instant replay challenge systems to use video to overturn or confirm referee calls.
Some major tennis tournaments such as the U.S. Open have gone as far as to replace line judges with electronic line calling cameras from the Sony-owned Hawk-Eye computer vision company.
PlaySight already has a partnership with the National Pickleball League, which has recently been courting fans the Australian Open, to automate streaming broadcasts from the top professional league Down Under.
Shachar says that the replay officiating system developed by PlaySight is similar to VAR (video assistant referee) used in soccer.
“There may be an electronic line calling play in pickleball and PlaySight is definitely looking into it,” Shachar said. “But what we are pushing right now to the professional tours is a VAR-like solution that we’ve used in collegiate tennis, ice hockey, and pro basketball.”