With a noticeable whir, four plastic propeller blades lift a white X-shaped device off the ground.
Elite Junior Tennis founder Oliver Foreman, formerly an associate head coach for women’s tennis at Florida State, pilots the drone.
You hear a lot about drones these days, more so in regards to military strikes somewhere far away from Tallahassee.
But then Amazon made waves in discussion of using drones to drop off same-day packages. And soon enough, the discussion turned to other methods for using drones.
Drones aren’t new technology, but they were considered more of a geeky recreational toy before practicality began being implemented into owner’s thought processes.
Foreman has been using his at Elite Junior Tennis in conjunction with the versatile GoPro action camera to hover over the Golden Eagle courts where he teaches to provide a bird’s eye view of the action, and perhaps glean a bit of information from that vantage point.
“These kids have one view of the court, and the court is 78 feet long, 36 feet wide,” Foreman said.
“Down here it looks very tight, then all of a sudden I can show them just how much room there is on the tennis court. It’s surprising. It just gives a different perspective with angles on the court, where they could be moving to on certain shots.”
Foreman’s practices, like most, will have one player volleying with another from baseline to baseline. But depth perception can be tough, especially while moving laterally, and it’s hard for younger players to learn just how much room they have.
“An aerial concept can show a player, ‘(My opponent) is four feet behind the baseline. How did I not see that? I should be moving up. I should be looking for a shorter ball or a go ball or something like that,'” Foreman said.
“It’s an eye opener for these guys and a perspective they’ve never seen before. And it helps them understand how we as coaches can get frustrated sometimes because they get to see what we see.”
Foreman can take the drone up high and cover two, three or four courts at once, or hover lower to the court and create promotional videos for recruiting purposes.
Other sports, such as football, can get a vantage point similar to that of when SKYCAM covers a college or pro football game and the action is directly below.
The prices vary, but prices for drones can be as little as $300. Foreman paid a little over $1,000 for his model, while a GoPro ranges from $200-$500.
In some ways, it may not seam cheap, but Foreman views this a natural, affordable progression. And for kids these days that are very much visual learners, this is one way to spark athletic betterment.
“As coaches, you always think of ways to improve and get better,” Foreman said.
“It’s not like 20 years ago. You have all kinds of technology available. If you have it, why not use it? What’s the worst that could happen? You’re not going to make kids worse, you’re only going to make them better, so give them the opportunity if it presents itself.”
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com