Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Advanced Technology



Coach Wayne’s Corner

Wayne Clark

Before moving to Marco, I grew up and lived in Houston, where I had the privilege, of witnessing many spectacular events held at the Astrodome, which back then was called, “The Eighth Wonder of the World.”

I attended more Houston Astros and Oilers games than I can remember. I saw Billy Jean King defeat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes. I saw Evel Knievel jump his motorcycle over 13 cars. I even saw a NASA astronaut, wearing a jetpack, fly around inside the stadium!

Back in those days technology was not as advanced as it is today, but the Astrodome had a giant electronic scoreboard, which was located above the seats over the outfield home run fence. Whenever the Astros would hit a home run, or the Oilers would score a touchdown, a light show would go off in celebration. The show included a baseball, which was on fire, flying across the entire length of the wall, two longhorn cattle, with smoke and fire coming out of their nostrils, a cowboy roping a cow, and exploding fireworks! It was all very high tech and spectacular for its day. As wild and crazy as all of that sounds, remember, Houston is in Texas!

Back then, there were no giant jumbotron screens to watch replays. In those days, you took binoculars to the game to get up close to the action.

Television coverage of the games was not as advanced as we have today. I remember the major network television production crews had a camera that was mounted on top of a structure that looked like a small oil well derrick, which was attached onto a flatbed golf/utility cart. This cart would drive up and down the field, on the sidelines, behind the players’ bench, so they could have a view of the line of scrimmage. They also had cameramen, with huge and heavy shoulder mounted cameras, right on the sidelines and just outside of the end zone, to capture field level angle shots.

Boy, how times have changed! Now, we have wire mounted, floating cameras that get us virtually right on the field with the players and gigantic video screens, hanging from the rafters, that have a picture as clear as our big screen TVs that we watch the games on at home.

During the pre-game of this year’s Super Bowl, I was watching reruns of highlights of the history of Super Bowl and I noticed how over the years the quality of television coverage has progressed with the advancement of technology.

The same is true for the sport of tennis. Gone are the days of a simple replay of the ending of a point. Today’s technology allows viewers to watch replays with shot spot, which can track and trace the flight and landing of the ball to within a millimeter of being in or out. They can also show location and placement of first and second serves into the service boxes, as well as the position of a player striking the ball in relation to the placement of the incoming serve!

As the sport of pickleball grows, there is now a wide availability and opportunity to watch championship level players, competing in tournament matches.

Unfortunately, the sport of pickleball has not yet been noticed or accepted by the major networks or ESPN. However, there is a great source of high quality video coverage of professional/championship level pickleball competition, which can be accessed through The Pickleball Channel via the web, on our computers, iPads, phones, etc. And you can register to watch them for free!

These matches are not being recorded in large professional arenas, but are mostly in small park-like venue settings, much like the US Open tournament held here in Naples. Even though they don’t have the luxury of high end professional sports coverage camera equipment, or the utilization of technology such as shot spot, the camera technicians at The Pickleball Chanel are doing a great job providing quality camera angles of both a full court shot for the serve, return of serve and third ball hits; and then switching to a court side camera, when the point is being played in the kitchen.

As we all know, you can find anything you think you may need to know about everything in the world that you want to know, on YouTube. However, I have found that the quality of professionalism in the production of videos, as well as the actual sensible and usable information which is presented by The Pickleball Channel is far superior to most of what you find searching and watching on your own on YouTube.

As an instructor, I encourage my students to access these videos on The Pickleball Channel and observe the pros to see how strategies in the sport of pickleball are properly executed. As in all sports, as a recreational player, while I may not be able to master the championship level skills and execute some of the great shots the pros hit, I can improve my abilities to compete simply by watching the strategies they use and shots they execute.

The Pickleball Chanel also provides instructional videos for all levels of players, which are very educational and informative.

Hopefully, someday in the not too distant future, pickleball will be accepted and respected as a real sport by the major networks. Along with that, hopefully a production company, like The Pickleball Channel, will be able to survive among the big players in professional sports coverage. In the meantime, watch and support The Pickleball Channel. It is your best source for viewing top, pro-level pickleball competition, as well as providing access to quality instructional videos, to help improve your game.

Wayne Clark is a certified professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction. He has been the head instructor at the Marco Island Racquet Center since 2001. The Racquet Center offers clinics, private and group lessons for both tennis and pickleball. Coach Wayne’s Island Kids Tennis juniors program runs year round, and has classes for players from kindergarten through high school. Contact Coach Wayne by email at, by phone or text at 239-450-6161.

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