Thoughts on Hawk-Eye

Published June 27, 2009

The Hawk-Eye technology to record a tennis ball’s movements and then review controversial line calls has been around for a while, and been included within the rules since 2006. The Wimbledon Championships are on right now, and we quite often see the players calling for a challenge on a call.

Personally, I find the challenges a little bit disruptive. The player has to request it, we have to wait for the footage to be prepared, and then we have the audience “ooooh” as the result is displayed. However, this is much more preferable to relying on human eyes that can easily make a mistake. Some of those serves reach 150mph, literally blink and you’ll miss it. Having the option to question some of these decisions is a good idea.

The whole Hawk-Eye thing really began because of a match with Serena Williams in which too many erroneous calls were made. At the time, there was no challenge system, but the footage was reviewed afterwards and the umpire was sacked. I wonder if tennis will get to the point where there are no lines-people and it’s all videos and computers?

Also, I didn’t know that the technology is also used in cricket, football and snooker as well. It’s not just about making umpiring decisions, but it provides a lot of the excellent statistics and representative images we see. In cricket, there are Pitch Maps which detail where a bowler is, um, bowling, direction, consistency, etc. In snooker, we can see a player’s eye view, plus animations of potential or alternative shots to be taken. In football, it’s being developed to help with controversial goal decisions.

I wonder what other sports could benefit from a spot of Hawk-Eye.

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