How to make a post game tennis video with my Apple Watch and iPhone

This is my #2 post on tennis video analyzing, #6 post on using Apple Watch to track tennis performance, and #11 post on sports in general.

The coronavirus pandemic isn’t over yet, but at least recreation tennis is back. The city I live in have allowed for tennis activity since late May, and I have been play a lot of tennis since then.

I also joined a new tennis club, and actively participated in the ladder game. After playing over 10 games using the newly improved SwingVision app (most recent version 7.2), I have found an effective way of generating a 10-15min highlight video of ALL POINTS played in a 1hr ladder match.

The video highlight generated is overlayed with the match score, recorded real time by Apple Watch. This makes it enjoyable to watch for friends and families, because it feel like watching a Pro match highlight between Federer and Nadal.

The finished video is invaluable. It can be used for:

  • Analyze point by point game performance to look for area of improvements
  • Share with your partner and other audiences
  • Store and archive in your personal library for later usage

Why videos?

Ouch, I hate seeing myself play tennis, terrible movement!

Quote from Denis – a top 10 player from the ladder

This is an piece of surprising feedback I got via email, after sharing the edited post game video with my opponent. As I have addressed it in my previous post, video is objective, it is reflecting what happened and usually exposing the area for improvement. In this case, Denis was very surprised to see his movement was not up to his standard, and could subsequently find his own way to further improve this area.

What equipment setups you need?

  • An iPhone with iOS13 and SwingVision installed, and at least 8GB of empty space to record the video.
  • An Apple Watch with watchOS 6 installed
  • A tripod, or a fence grip to stabilize the phone to the back of the tennis court
  • A wide angle lense. (It is no longer needed for iPhone 11 or new phone as it is build-in feature)

Step by step guide

Here is the official setup documentation from the SwingVision app. Following are my recommendations:

  1. Ask for the consent for your tennis opponent. Video taping is a privacy issue, therefore It is usually easier for regular hitting partners since they are usually your friends. With that being said, I found my success rate is 100% with my 10 ladder matches playing against fresh new opponents over the past few weeks. My “secrete sauce” is offering the data, and the edited video in advanced, promising it won’t be shared without consents from both parties.
  2. Setup the iPhone with the wide lense and the tripod before the game . Remember to put the camera on the opposite side of direct sun light- I found it can drastically improve the video quality. With a little practice, this can be done in 2-3 minute.
  3. Initiate the session from the iPhone – select the play by play + mode and your choice of the game type (I hate to select it every single time 🙁 ), but DO NOT SELECT START from the phone. Instead open the Apple Watch app to select “warm up” (not recording) , or “start” to officially kick off the recording. This will make sure the session recorded by the watch (score, point) and by the phone (speed, video) are synced properly.
  • When the game is completed, select the “finish” button from the watch, and the iPhone video should be automatically completed.
  • It usually takes about 5-10min, depending on your internet condition for the game to be uploaded into the server.
  • Once the game is uploaded, you can tag the game with your friend, and share the game stats using the highlighted button.
  • Open the recorded game in SwingVision app, (Once it is uploaded, it can be loaded in iPad – which is much easier to edit with the bigger screen). Be sure to select “16X9” to avoid score being cut out.
  • Select “All Points”
  • Click “Edit” on each point in order to trim the beginning and the ending, then save it.
  • Repeat step 9 for all the points. – This usually takes about 10-15min for me editing a 70 points ladder game.
  • Click “share” , and select the “selected video with overlay”, and wait about 10min for the video to be downloaded from the server to your own iCloud Drive (or photo). Photo app can only stores a video less than 15min for now.
  • The post game video is completed – you can watch, share and analyze the video !!!

Watch out for these… (little tips)

This app is created by a start up. So it might be unrealistic to expect it to be as rock solid as an app made by tech giant like Facebook or Google. Here is a list of “lessons” I have learned navigating the ins and outs of the instability of using it.

  • When someone call you in the middle of recording, the session will automatically stop and complete. The only way to prevent this to happen is to set up the “Do No Disturb” and allow calls from “No one” .
  • Make sure the phone indeed has 8GB of free space. Do not ignore the warning because it will cause the video to be recorded incomplete, or worst case losing the whole video 🙁
  • The “Favourite point” feature in the watch is a nice one, but I find it is likely to cause the video to crash.
  • When editing the video to the last point, the screen will freeze (sometimes up to 1 minute). It has NOT crash to don’t force exit it otherwise you will lose your 15minute of editing work.
  • When attempting to export all points (select all), sometimes it won’t have the option to add overlay of scores and speed etc (I believe it is a software bug). The work around is to choose all the categories except for a minor one. For me it is “serve winner”. In this case the export feature will work properly.

What I hope I can do ?

Compared to my experience 6 month ago when I wrote the tennis video primer , it has improved significantly. The AI is becoming smarter – for example started to recognize the side changes. However it is a few steps away from a great product. Here are the features I believe should be added in the future releases to improve the user experience.

  • Editing(trimming) on the video should be saved to the video itself, instead of to the session only. In this case, the progress can be shared across multiple device, and if a crash happened,the previous manual work won’t be lost. It will also make the app to become a “content consuming” tool, instead of just a “content producing” tool.
  • The session setup should be easier and enable more default setting. It doesn’t need to remind user where the place the iPhone over and over again. In those use case scenario, the time are sensitive, as the opponent are usually waiting on the other side of the court.
  • “Mark as winner” button for a game that didn’t complete. In some scenarios (for example ladder game), the winner is whoever ahead when the time expires. This will help to track the head-to-head stats more accurately.

  1. Chris Dugger

    Does the app create a full unedited video on the iPhone in case that is what you want?

    • Tom Tao

      Yes – you can export it as raw video. 1 Hour of tennis video usually generate 2gb of video

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