Boomer uses a single video camera to detect the motion of the ball on its side of the net. It tracks every ball hit by the user and uses a proprietary algorithm to calculate the bounce position, ball speed AND second bounce position.
Boomer uses a complicated algorithm based primarily on the position, speed, and type of shot hit (groundstroke, volley, overhead or serve). It also considers how quickly the ball came back after being thrown by Boomer and the 2nd bounce depth. If you hit the ball “in” the singles court or “in” the correct service box it will rate the ball on a scale from 1.0 to 7.0. If you hit the ball “out” it will get a rating of 0.0.
This is the million dollar question, and what makes Boomer cool, interesting and most importantly, helps you to become a better player much faster than any other ball machine. The simple answer is; it depends on the mode (game, drill, or beep test). Refer to FAQ’s 4 thru 7 for the answers.
There are 5 ways to win a point against Boomer. (1) You hit a winner. Boomer awards you the point anytime you hit a shot rated much higher than Boomer’s setting. For example, if Boomer is set at level 4.0 and you hit a serve rated 5.5 or above, that is a winner or “ace”. Another example is if you nail a forehand hard right in the corner. If Boomer rates your shot at 5.5 or above based on speed, depth and width and 2nd bounce depth, that is also a winner and Boomer will announce the speed of the shot (similar to seen on TV). (2) You hit a two-shot winner. The simplest example, is a big serve (but not quite big enough or close enough to the line to be a winner) followed by a big groundstroke to the corner. If Boomer rates two consecutive shots considerably above Boomer’s level, that is a two-shot winner and Boomer will say “two-shot winner”. (3) You hit a three-shot winner. If you hit 3 consecutive shots slightly above Boomer’s level, you get a three-shot winner and Boomer will say “three-shot winner”. (4) You “grind” out a point. In game mode, Boomer doesn’t say anything during a point. It does however, rate each shot hit and keep track of a running sum of the shots you’ve hit. If you reach a “magic” number without missing, it awards you the point and says “nice grind”. The magic number depends mostly on Boomer’s set level but also on who is serving and the game score. At the highest level (7.0) it may take 14 balls to “grind” out a point, which is equivalent to a 28 ball rally. (5) You get an unforced error. Rarely, Boomer will award an unforced error, similar to Federer shanking an easy overhead. This is to reward you for making Boomer play one more ball. This happens only 2% of the time at the highest level and only 5% at the lowest level; and never if Boomer is losing. Boomer is mentally tougher when he’s down; just like most good competitors.
You lose the point anytime you (1) hit the ball out, (2) in the net, (3) double fault or (4) Boomer doesn’t see the ball bounce in the singles court within a reasonable amount of time. The camera is wide-angle, but will not detect a bounce if you hit the ball way out of the singles court. The system is programmed to ignore bounces outside the alleys, for example, to reject balls bouncing on adjacent courts. If you hit a ball that bounces 15 deep of the back line, it will “timeout” for the same reason.
Most drills simply tell you how good each shot is relative to Boomer’s selected level. The possibilities are “out”, “weak shot”, “okay”, “not bad”, “good”, “great” and “perfect”. Also Boomer will give you a total score at the end so you can see if you are improving or if you want to compete with a friend by taking turns doing the same drill. Boomer also changes the its level depending on how well you play. If you are consistently hitting balls in the court deep, hard and near the corners, Boomer will up its level to challenge you. On the other hand, if you miss a lot of balls or hit short, soft and right down the middle, Boomer will lower its level to allow you to “get your groove on”.
The beep drill only considers if the ball lands “in” or “out”. If the ball lands “in”, it continues throwing balls at an increased frequency until you miss 3 balls. If it lands out, it keeps track of how many have landed “out” and stops the drill after 3 misses. You can erase a miss if you get 2 balls “in”. This is impossible to do, however, if you are too tired, don’t have the desire or the footspeed to get to the ball. Hence the beep drill is primarily a footspeed, guts and cardio fitness test; not a groundstroke test. The Boomer beep drill is much better for tennis training than a simple shuttle run (suicide drill), or the standard “beep” test used by coaches worldwide because it is tennis specific. The distance you run is within the sidelines, not 20 meters (the distance a standard beep test runs). The standard beep test allows you to run straight ahead for 20 meters before reversing and running back. The Boomer beep test requires you to hit the ball at each reversal so you can’t just run straight ahead; you are forced to turn sideways (as late as possible) to hit the ball and learn how to do so efficiently, then reverse direction quickly so you have the best chance of reaching the next ball.
Just like beating a person, you try to win each point in the game. If you win 4 points before Boomer wins 3, you win that game. If you are tied at 3 points each, it is “deuce” and the game continues until someone is 2 points ahead. Then you alternate serves and the next game starts. This continues until someone wins the set by winning 6 games (before the other gets 5 games), then the 2nd set starts. This continues until someone wins 2 sets. If you win 2 sets before Boomer does, you’ve beaten Boomer. If all of this seems obvious to you, that is because you’ve played tennis before. The only difference is that you are playing a robot that prompts you on where to stand, where and when to serve, and where and when it is about to serve to you. Boomer can be used with no instructions other than “Turn Boomer on, then look at the menu to play a game”. I’ve used Boomer to teach total beginners where the deuce and ad court are, how to alternate serves, where to stand when Boomer is serving, how a game is scored, and how a set is scored; everything they need to know to play Boomer or another human player.
The most obvious way is to play Boomer at a high enough level that you usually lose. Similar to playing a person that is better than you, you are forced to raise your game (mentally and physically) to stand a chance of beating them. This might involve hitting the ball harder, hitting deeper or going for the lines, adopting new strategies, changing your grips; in general, getting out of your comfort zone. Anytime you do that, you are likely to make a lot more mistakes, otherwise you’d already be playing at that higher level. But if you don’t try, you won’t improve very fast. The great Ivan Lendl thought that there were benefits to playing people below, at and above your level. Playing people below your level lets you learn how to win (and also work on new strategies and improve weaknesses, like the chip and charge strategy to improve your volleys and overheads, for example). Playing people above your level lets you see how much harder (or more accurately, or consistently) you need to play to win a single point. And you can play people at your level to see how much out of your comfort zone is necessary to win. John McEnroe says that tennis is a cerebral sport and that you need to know yourself to play the best tennis. When you play a person you may have expectations of your level and their level and think that you may lose or win before you start. To give yourself the best chance of winning, you need to be able to adjust to your level THAT DAY and your opponents level THAT DAY. Against someone close to your level you probably don’t need to hit 4 winners to win a game. Many points are won on the opponents errors. You can only control your level, but since your opponent is usually another human that is also trying to control their level and each is trying to play their best tennis and win, it is no wonder there are so many ebbs and flows in a match. When one person is winning, the opponent is motivated to change their game otherwise they will predictably lose. The best mentally tough players know their abilities very well and don’t panic by trying to raise their game too much when they are losing. Each ball of each point of each game requires you to make a decision on how much risk you want to take. The right answer is very personal and depends on your abilities, the ball you’ve been given to hit, your opponent and a number of other factors. All these decisions have to be made very quickly and this requires putting yourself in these pressure situations to learn your best strategy. Part of winning is playing just good enough to beat the person, not necessarily strive to hit a winner every time. Boomer has no ego and will never choke. This gives you an excellent tool to judge your progress and set Boomer at whatever level you think will help you improve the most. You can track your progress as well by trying other grips, fitness training, strategies. Anytime you manage to beat Boomer at a higher level than you’ve done before; you know you’ve earned it. If you can consistently beat Boomer at this higher level, it is NOT luck; you have become a better player. This will translate into beating people you’re previously lost to. Incidentally, no one yet has beaten Boomer at its higher level, even in a tiebreaker. The closest was Ryler DeHeart, NCAA Division I indoor champion, who was up 6-4 in a tiebreaker, then ran out of gas and lost 6-8.
You set the level anywhere from 2.0 to 7.0 using the up and down arrows on the wireless keyboard. Then you press the “Game” key to start the game. It is that easy! Boomer will play a drum roll and announce who is serving and take it from there.
Set the level, same as a game, then press the “Tiebreaker” key.
You can see a video of Boomer in game mode on this website, but to truly understand how awesome Boomer is, you need to actually play at least two games against Boomer. This will allow you to serve one game and return one game. Anytime you play a game against Boomer, it chooses who serves randomly. Let’s say Boomer wins the serve. It will tell you where it is going to serve “Boomer serving to the deuce court”. It will tell when it is going to serve by saying “Service”. Most people try to crush the return to show Boomer (or me, if I’m giving the demo) how good they are and hit it “out”. They are now waiting for Boomer to throw another ball, but Boomer says “out” followed by “15-love”. I’ve given this demo hundreds of times and the user’s reaction is always the same; disbelief. I’m holding the remote to start and stop Boomer, to allow them to get in position and they accuse me of talking into the remote because we both saw it land out and then they heard my voice say “out”. Well it is my voice because I recorded “out”, but Boomer works exactly the same when I’m 3000 thousand miles away sleeping in my bed back in Vermont. They typically lose the first game badly because they underestimate how steady Boomer is (Boomer rarely misses). Now it is their serve and Boomer says “Here are two balls to serve” and then throws them two balls right to the center of the baseline, similar to a ball boy. Often times they hit these balls back because they weren’t listening. Boomer then says “Your serve to the deuce court” and they quickly run around looking for a ball to serve. They then typically serve really hard and if I’m lucky it goes in a corner and Boomer says “Ace!”. Now they understand how to lose a point (hit it out) and win a point (hit a great serve) and they are hooked. They can’t wait to play the next point and see what “works” to beat Boomer. I don’t have to explain anything else, they figure out what works, exactly they way they would if they were playing a person they had never played before. I love giving demos and will drive almost anywhere in the U.S. for the opportunity to show what Boomer is capable of. Most demos are free, especially if you live in the Northeast. If you live outside the Northeast, I will make it my business to eventually get to your court and give you a free demo because it is the only way to get people to buy or rent Boomer.
Of course, Boomer does anything a high end ball machine can do. What other ball machines can’t do is give you feedback on each shot, change levels easily, force you to adjust your footwork to different spins, different paces and depths. Most ball machines make you play worse by throwing a very consistent ball. A consistent ball is great for a total beginner, but tennis is a game of motion; your opponent is always trying to disrupt your rhythm by changing the pace, spin, depth and angle. Most Boomer drills have randomness built in to make you play better against a human opponent. Boomer has hundreds of preprogrammed drills and there are plenty of drills for beginners, if you want to use them.
Yes, if you are at ranked in the top 100 professional tennis players in the world or a social maven that will spread the word on how great Boomer is, you may get a discount on Boomer in return for the exposure.
I charge $600/month for private court owners and $300/month for certain exclusive clubs.
In the Northeast, you can rent Boomer just 1 month, if desired. Outside the Northeast, the minimum is 3 months.
Having Boomer at a club provides exposure as well as feedback. Each time a Boomer is installed at a club, I learn how to improve Boomer; either by adding drills, adding another mode or by improving the user interface.
Yes, when I’m in the area, I upgrade the software to the latest version and also add any new drills that have been created. This can also be done via a USB thumbdrive for a nominal charge thru the mail.
Yes, roughly 2/3 of the rent is applied towards the optional purchase, so you can decide to buy Boomer at any point during the rental to save money. For example, if you have rented Boomer for 3 months, you’ve paid $1,800. $1,200 of that rental is applied towards the purchase price and you can buy Boomer for $13,250, which is $14,450 – $1,200.
Both are free and you get personal service before and after the sale from Dave Jordan.
Rarely, but I make it my business to fix it over the phone, if possible, and by driving or flying to your court if necessary. Boomer’s reputation is everything to me and I strive to make sure all Boomer customers are happy.
Not usually. So far I’ve never charged someone for any problems unless they are due to normal wear and tear, like the wheels wearing out, for example. All I ask is that you tell people that Dave Jordan stands behind his product.
Yes, the camera is protect in an outdoor enclosure and the Boomer itself is waterproof. However, if you leave the balls in Boomer during the rain without the cover, they will get wet and get stuck in the wheels. This is the same with any ball machine.
Yes; because the camera system is looking for motion, it can be confused by any motion on its side of the court. Boomer will not work well on courts that have shadows cast by trees (or flags) on windy days because the shadows will jump around and confuse the system into making bad calls.
On windy days Boomer may throw balls long or into the net. There is a wind adjustment to minimize this from happening. If the wind is strong AND changing directions, it may be impossible to guarantee good ball throwing. This is the same with all ball machines. Also if some balls are dead or worn down they may land in the net or long because the wheels can’t get enough topspin on them to keep them in the court at high speeds. This is a problem common to all ball machines. The problem can be eliminated removing the dead or worn balls.
No because the camera would vibrate any time a ball hits the fence. This vibration would cause the camera system to make bad calls. The camera must be attached very rigidly to a tripod or some other structure BEHIND the fence.
Boomer waits a little after detecting motion near the net. If the ball lands in the service box after hitting the net, Boomer calls this a good serve, similar to Division I college tennis.
Possibly somebody walked or moved near the net or a ball rolled near the net. When Boomer is expecting a serve, it looks very closely at the net and can see thru the net all the way to the service line on the other side of the court. If any ball or person (or leaf) enters this sensitive area, Boomer will think the ball hit the net and call a “net”. On very windy days, the net itself may move enough to trigger this bad call. If so, the “net sensing option” can be disabled using the setup menu. If the net sensing is disabled, you can now cheat by hitting the ball hard into the net with no penalty and keep serving until you get an “ace”. Let your conscience be your guide. If you really want to beat Boomer, you can unplug it and claim a forfeit. Or set the level down low enough that you can win every point. Boomer has no ego and doesn’t care.
Behind the service line on the side of the court opposite Boomer. If someone stands anywhere near the net, Boomer may detect motion near the net and get confused.
Usually, no, because Boomer will think you are a ball and “call” you instead of the ball. In unrated drills, the camera is not used, so in that case it is okay to pick up balls and go on Boomer’s side of the court.
Usually Boomer will beep and consider the ball “good”. Boomer hides a bit of the court from the camera’s view so if it sees the ball disappear behind Boomer, it gives you the benefit of the doubt and calls it “in”. Sometimes the ball may bounce back into the court which can confuse Boomer into calling this ball rather than the next ball. Aim for the corners and this won’t happen. Also don’t put ball hoppers or anything near Boomer that could bounce a ball back into the court for the same reason.
Boomer considers this weak shot, even if it is a great drop shot. A drop shot may confuse Boomer because it sees the 2nd bounce of the drop shot before it sees the first bounce of the next ball. Don’t drop shot Boomer.
Yes, especially indoors. Boomer’s volume can be set using the volume knob to be quieter than a normal match between two humans. However, this is often too loud for some people (robots get no respect) so we have an optional speaker which can be placed on the user’s side of the court to eliminate this problem. Because the optional speaker is very close to the user, it can be set low enough to avoid bothering adjacent courts, yet plenty loud enough for the user to hear clearly.
Turn Boomer off and back on again.
To my knowledge, yes. If a better ball machine exists, I haven’t seen it. But don’t take my word for it, check out the testimonials from my customers. The one in Los Angeles said Boomer was his most prized possession after his home.
Yes. Every time I give a demo, especially at an academy or university, I ask them what kind of drill they would like to program. Then I use that as an example of how to program a drill. Like any high-end ball machine, Boomer allows you to throw any type of ball to any location with any desired spin. Boomer also allows you to specify the timing of each ball in the drill down to 1/10 of a second. It also allows you to specify a target for each ball, like deep deuce court, very deep ad court at a speed exceeding 55 mph, very short wide volley, etc. There are currently over 50 targets you can choose from to encourage certain patterns of play. You can also specify that the drill stops if you miss a target. This is similar to playing a point and gives the user a stake in doing the drill. If you miss a target, your turn ends. The point is that Boomer’s library of preprogrammed drills is constantly expanding so you benefit from other people’s ideas. And this is not limited to just drills, some of Boomer’s most powerful modes, the beep drill, for example, come from customer’s suggestions. Basically anything you can think of, Boomer can do already by programming a drill, or I can spend a few hours and change the software to add another mode. I’m always open to ideas that will make Boomer a better tool to improve your game and enjoyment of tennis.