Pose Estimation Technology: Enhancing Safety and Performance in Pickleball

PB Vision Team
December 19, 2023

Pickleball is a sport of finesse, agility, and precision. Mastering mechanics and movement is key to success in this rapidly growing game. But how can technology assist in improving your skills while ensuring you stay injury-free? One answer lies in human pose estimation or HPE.

What is Human Pose Estimation?

Human pose estimation is a computer vision based technology that involves the precise tracking of the position and orientation of specific points of the human body in images or videos. This capability can enable the analysis of athletes' movements. While human pose estimation finds applications in various sports, its potential is fast becoming recognized in the world of pickleball.

To excel in pickleball, understanding the significance of player movement is paramount. Proper mechanics and fluid movement patterns play a vital role in enhancing your performance. Not only do they help you play more efficiently, but they can also significantly reduce the risk of injuries.

Pickleball Injuries Could Cost U.S. Nearly $500 Million Annually

In a recent Axios article, the financial implications of pickleball injuries were brought to light. According to UBS analyst Andrew Mok, the sport of pickleball accounts for a significant portion of medical costs, estimated to be between $250 million to $500 million annually. This substantial financial burden arises from the injuries sustained during gameplay. Furthermore, the data revealed that certain body parts are more susceptible to injuries. The most common areas affected include the wrist, lower leg, and head.

Understanding the financial impact and common injury patterns in pickleball highlights the urgency of injury prevention and the need for technologies like human pose estimation and AI-based shot detection to ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience for players.

What Are Some Factors that Go Into Predicting Injuries?

(McCunn et al., 2016, Bennett M, et al., 2020)

Predicting injuries involves a complex interplay of factors. These include not only physical attributes like movement quality but also psychological factors, intrinsic risk factors, fatigue levels, and the player's current actions, among others. Integrating all of these factors is essential to making accurate injury predictions, which can make implementing this technology challenging. Once researchers understand the sport's demands on players, they can develop movement screens based on these demands to mimic those requirements and assess movement quality, ultimately predicting injuries. 

PB Vision and Exploring Use Cases of Human Pose Estimation

The future holds boundless possibilities for integrating human pose estimation with PB Vision's technology, making it accessible to players of all skill levels to reduce the risk of injuries. While PB Vision provides one piece of the puzzle by analyzing a player's movement quality, a holistic approach requires the analysis of all other relevant factors. This technology could help with:

  • Injury Prevention: Predict the areas where you're most likely to sustain injuries on the court, identify which specific repetitive movements are causing the most discomfort in your body, and provide recommendations for relief.
  • Personalized Performance Feedback: Customized training plans designed to elevate your performance, ensuring a safer and more rewarding pickleball experience. Enabling you to refine your posture, footwork, and technique to perform at your peak. 

The integration of human pose estimation technology through PB Vision holds major potential to enhance players' on-court performance and significantly reduce the risk of pickleball injuries, unlocking valuable insights, and ultimately contributing to the longevity and growth of the sport.

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