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Rafa Nadal’s game is Digital to the Core – is yours?

by Mark Raskino  |  July 7, 2017  |  Comments Off on Rafa Nadal’s game is Digital to the Core – is yours?

This is this first week of Wimbledon and Rafael Nadal is on form. #2 in the world singles rankings and fresh from his win at the Roland Garros French Open on clay, this time his target is winning the famous London trophy, on grass. Yesterday I heard a BBC commentator marvel at the amount of top spin he was placing on the ball during key rallies. I suspect I know one reason why he’s so particularly good at that. There’s a tiny little clue buried in a tweet he sent just before the tournament…

rafa tweet

You have too look hard inside the picture to find it…

rafa equipment pic







It’s right down there, on the racquet handle – the word “Play”.

babolat play

Play is the name of Babolat’s embedded digital sensor and analytics system and service. Since around 2013, Nadal has had the opportunity to access incredibly detailed match play data about his game. It doesn’t just tell him how long he was on court or how many times he hit the ball. It discriminates shot types and power. It measures serve speed and top spin. It tells him how close he was to hitting the racquet sweet-spot and how often. All of this data comes from an embedded digital sensor package in the handle that is so small and weighs so little, there is no difference in balance or feel between this racquet and the same model without it.

Nadal’s equipment sponsor  is a relatively small, French, specialty tennis equipment maker. They invented this system circa 2012 and they have been developing their data services for customers ever since. You can own a racquet just like this for about three hundred US dollars if you take your tennis seriously. Every time you play, the data is transferred by Bluetooth connection to your phone or tablet so you can see all your stats – and then on up to Babolat’s cloud based analysis, history and player comparison services. It’s a revolution in the multi-billion dollar game of tennis and what players and their coaches can know about their style, ability, consistency and progress.

How did that happen? How did Babolat take digital to the core of their products? Our book starts with that story and includes many other cases. It explains what digital business really means and what it takes to make that kind of revolutionary change to an industry, to your company and within yourself as a leader.

With five stars after 26 reviews on, if you have not already done so, we hope you will consider making it part of your summer reading.

DTTC_HeroSMALL DTTC_Hero Mandarin Edition PHEI pub 2017


(Chinese Mandarin edition coming soon from PHEI)


Mark Raskino
VP & Gartner Fellow
15 years at Gartner
30 years IT industry

Mark Raskino is a vice president and Gartner Fellow in the CEO Research group. Mark creates advice and analysis for CEOs on technology related and digital business strategy and change Read Full Bio

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