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There is an absolute revolution going on involving the “consumerization of fitness and wellness -- and Jim Carroll captures the many different trends that provide so much opportunity for reinvention today.

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Jim has been the featured keynote speaker for some of the most prestigious sports organizations in the world, including • Opening Keynote for the PGA of America • Sporting & Fitness Industry Association • National Recreation and Parks Association • Sporting Goods Manufacturing Organization

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Recent Posts in the Sports/Fitness category


Anyone who tracks me know that I am passionate (if not slightly pathetic) golfer, and I’ve wrapped it into my business. I often golf before a keynote, and have actually been an opening keynote speaker for two major events for the PGA of America.

To that end, I need to tell you a great story! That of an 11 year old Canadian girl, Vanessa Borovilos, who just won her 2nd back to back tournament at the World Kids Golf Tournament in Pinehurst, N.C.

Only 11 years, and already 2 World championships in her win column. Meet Vanessa Borovilos!

Here’s why I think you need to know Vanessa’s story — because it is a story of how those who are passionate about the sport are doing everything they can to reach out to the next generation.

Some months back, I wrote a blog post on the 8 Best Things to Happen to Golf in 2017 — trends, innovations and technology that are growing the game. The post spoke about a PGA pro at my local club, Doug Laurie, and Michelle Holmes, a PGA Pro in the US. Both are relentlessly focused on coaching young kids and bringing them into the game.

With that in mind, I just had to give a shoutout to one of Doug’s student, Vanessa Borovilos, an 11 year old girl and Canadian — who just won her 2nd back to back world tournament, at the 2017 World Kids Golf Championship in Pinehurst, North Carolina! Look at this!

Here’s the scorecard from her win in 2016.

Vanessa is 11.

She doesn’t have an agent, a representative, or a media rep. But she’s a world champion – twice! — and someone needs to tell her story, and that of her coach, Doug.

The excitement in the photo is palpable.

And maybe, just maybe, sharing Vanessa’s story will help to inspire other kids, and other coaches, and other parents, to get their kids involved in what is truly one of the greatest sports in the world!

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I’ll admit, I’ve become a relentless golf nut, and I’ve even got a fairly decent handicap, often breaking 90 (which is less than what 1% of golfers can do.) I’ve got a son with a 1 handicap, which makes for  rather interesting rounds!

One of biggest career thrills as a futurist who focuses on the concept of innovation is found in the fact that the PGA of America has had me in to keynote their organization not once, but twice. The first time was for their annual general meeting, and then last year, to open the annual PGA Merchandise Show — where I was on stage after Lee Trevino and followed by Bubba Watson!

Both of these events have involved a focus on the idea of innovation, and what the industry and sport needs to do to continue to drive innovation, growth and interest in the game.

The common buzz ‘out there’ is that golf is a sport in decline. You’d certainly think that by reading the media. I beg to differ, and believe that the reality is far more positive. Much of this is due to the fact that there are a whole bunch of people in the game who are doing fascinating things to drive interest in what golf is all about.  Much of it involves reaching young people, using social media, to draw interest into the game.

With that, here’s my list of I think are the most important initiatives and people today in growing interest in the game.

Topgolf

Essentially, a driving range with technology, GPS golf balls, beer and chicken wings. If you check out the Instagram feed, you’ll see posts of young kids exploring whats involved in swinging a club. View social media postings around #topgolf, though, and you’ll see that it can be crazy busy on Friday and Saturday nights. I had the chance to interview the CIO on stage in Orlando at the PGA Merchandise show, and he has some wonderful insights on the impact of TopGolf on game growth. Watch the video clip here.

Essentially, TopGolf is getting people to try out a golf swing in a fun social environment. Statistics show that 1 out of 3 go on to try out golf in a real golf course. That’s a huge driving factor for growth!

Women with Drive

TopGolf uses social media to drive the game forward — and so much growth in the game today is being driven in the same way. With that, check out Women with Drive, another social media initiative. In this case, a number of young ladies  are using the power and reach of Instagram, Facebook and other tools to encourage women to discover the game. Their tag line is “Inspiring women to connect and play more golf“. The posts encourage those to find fellow women partners to come out for a round and either learn about or share their love for the game.

On Instagram, you’ll find many posts around new individuals getting involved in the game. Just this morning, they had a group in San Diego, doing what they do. It’s a national effort to get young women to come out for a round, and learn and love the game. Golf can be intimidating — it can be tough to break into, and there is a massive learning curve until you feel comfortable in getting out there and joining in for a round with people you don’t know. Women with Drive seems to be eager to break down those barriers, and I’ve got to give them credit for their passion and purpose.

(I will admit that golf has become the driving factor for many of my own Instagram activities – I follow a lot of golf pros and other folks. And if you follow #teamwwd, you can’t help but discovering the #golfbabes hashtag. I only follow that for the insight into innovation and the game, and not for the pictures!)

Rickie Fowler’s Snapchat / Instagram feed

While Women with Drive often shows a more sophisticated, feminine approach to growing the game of golf, the younger male generation also takes to social media to share their interest in the game. And no doubt, you’ve seen posts around Rickie Fowler’s annual trek to the Bahamas with fellow golf pros.

You get to see rising stars, normally found on the quaint, organized PGA tour, letting loose with a round of golf and other activities. They’re out golfing shirtless, beer in hand, behaviour bordering on the outrageous — which is what a lot of weekend hackers do. It provides the perfect connection between the average weekend golfer and the multi-million dollar golf pro, and gets out the message that the sport can be fun and inspiring at the same time!

Doug Lawrie & Michelle Holmes –  PGA Professionals

Most people, when they hear the phrase “PGA Pro”, think of folks like Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler. Those are the ‘touring Pros’ — but there are also PGA Professionals, folks who are the teaching professionals, helping others to master the complexities of the swing and they game grow.

Perhaps the most important PGA instructors out there today are those who dedicate their lives into getting young people into the game. Hence, I give you Doug Lawrie and Michelle Holmes!

Doug I know well — he’s the head teaching pro at my home golf club, Credit Valley. Michelle I have never met, but I’d love to meet her!

Doug regularly uses social media to tell the story and share the insight of the young people that he coaches. He’s tremendously successful – one of his proteges, a 10 year old girl, went on to win her category in last years world championship. Doug also has attention deficit disorder  – hence, his teaching company name, “Focus Golf Group”. Just the other day, I met him on the range and he was teaching a young girl a lesson; she’s deaf! He seems to take delight in taking on challenging cases, and turning these challenges into big opportunities.

Michelle Holmes I discovered through my connection with Rich Smith (below). Her feed on Instagram and Facebook is filled with fascinating photos and stories of her work with young people around golf lessons, summer golf camps and more.  Check this post, in which she notes, “Golf is a journey of a lifetime.”

Her passion for everything in getting young people into the game is infectious, and is another role model for what we can do to get the next generation involved in this wonderful sport.

Suzy Whaley

This passion for growing the game with young people flourishes out in the grassroots with Doug and Michelle — but it s also infused throughout the top leadership of the game. Case in point: Suzy Whaley, soon to be head of the PGA of America.

When I keynoted the 2010 PGA annual general meeting, little did I know that one of the most dynamic individuals in the world of golf was in the room – Suzy Whaley. She’s currently the Vice President of the PGA of America, and if all goes to plan, she’ll assume the leading role soon. Although we’ve never met in person — our paths have crossed — I’ve had the opportunity to learn from her insight.

What strikes me about Suzy is this : while she’s very busy with her responsibilities with the PGA, it’s also obvious that she is doing what she loves: helping young people to get involved in the game, or as a mom, cheering on her college age daughters, both of whom compete for their colleges!

Consider the magic in this post: here you have one of the most senior executives in the world of golf today, and what is she doing in any extra time she might have? Getting young people involved!

Cathy Butler, A Mom, and Peter Butler, a Dad

Suzy Whaley is one aspect of the world of golf at a career level. Then there are the moms and the dads, and parents who get their children out to the range, to the course, and to the lessons.

So I bring you Cathy and Peter Butler, good personal friends. Cathy has been golfing as long as she can remember, and carries a mean handicap. (She’s also the only person who has invited me out for a round, only to see me leave for a complex reason on the 13th hole. I will never live it down.) Peter, her husband, took it up later once he met Cathy….

Cathy and Peter are also the parents of 25 year old Thomas Butler, a marvellous year old fellow who has Downs Syndrome.

Thomas golfs.He skis. He does things that bring other people joy as they watch him and see his joy in doing wonderful things.

And he’s got a wicked drive which would put many other people to shame! Check it out! 220 yards straight down the middle!

Cathy and her husband Peter have done everything they can to provide their son with an enriching life full of powerful experiences. Cathy founded Events for Life, the charity for special needs young adults, for which I am now the Webmaster and on which my wife Christa sits on the Board of Directors. I am in awe of Cathy and Peter, and think they provide an important pathway to bring special needs children into the game.

Rich Smith, Executive Director, North Florida PGA

I got to know Rich through my keynote for the PGA. Aside from his unhealthy fascination for anything Star Wars related, he is one of many individuals in the PGA who has taken on a leading role in moving the Drive, Chip and Putt initiative forward.

That’s the national program which allows young people to progress through a series of regional competitions, the winners of which get to participate in an annual event at Augusta, days before the Masters.

Rich is putting a tremendous amount of effort into this initiative, and his passion shows in every single post and activity. That is, when he’s not obsessing about Star Wars!

Lexi Thompson and the LPGA

Last but not least — if you have any interest in golf, you’ll know of the boneheaded move by the LPGA to assess professional women’s golfer Lexi Thompson an additional, bonus-point penalty a day later, after someone watched something on TV. (With that, the LPGA became the most destructive force in the world of golf today!)

If anything, Lexi has taught her young fans everywhere that above all, sportsmanlike behaviour, decency and values are important attributes to bring to the game. Like the others, Lexi is a huge inspiration to young girls, and as a new type of role model, is helping to bring the game forward.

The 9th hero! (aka The people who support we who are golf nuts)

Oh, but wait, there’s more! Behind every golf nut, there’s an unsung hero. In this case, my wife!

She’s had to take up the game, schlepping her golf bag through airports, putting up with my relentless drive to tee it off at many of the fabulous golf resorts I get to visit as a leading global keynote speaker! To all the unsung heroes in our golf lives — we are grateful!

And the 10th hero!? Tom Carroll! (aka The people who drive our interest in the game)

The challenge with a list like this is that it keeps on growing!

I just came back from the range with my son, Tom — he’s the one with the 1-handicap. (Although, he’s just graduating from college, and will start full time work with an investment firm in a month, so his handicap is bound to go up.)  Tom is one of the main reason for my passion for the game — he took it up at a young age, and as a dad, I wanted to do whatever I could to be a part of his life as he got older.

While hitting some balls, I realized he really needed to be on the list. In everyone’s life, there is a kid name Tom — the driving reason why someone else develops an interest in the sport. So this recognition is for all the “Tom’s” out there – the other people who help to get others involved in the game.

Tom has competed in golf events, has worked for a golf pro teaching little kids, and has developed a reputation as a young man around our home club who people just like to golf with. He’s been tremendously patient with my erratic game, often offering me swing tips when needed, but backing off when he knows it will be a thankless exercise. The coolest thing? He’s still willing to go out for rounds with his dad on a regular basis.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

The most fun, perhaps, came from the day that he met Vice President Joe Biden on a golf course!

Who are your golf heroes? Share your stories with me, and with others — and let’s grow the game!

Location intelligence was the hot new opportunity 20 years ago as spatial (GIS) data came to be a big part of the world. 20 years on, it still is. My oldest son is building a fabulous career working in the industry – he’s a leading expert in the use of tools such as ArcGIS, for example.

But move over for spatial data bubbles — all of us are about to become immersed in many different bubbles, and the implications are bigger than you think!

What is a spatial data bubble? It’s a phrase I’ve coined as I’ve come to spend more time thinking about what happens when we add location oriented data to data-sets that will envelope us in multiple dimensions. I first hit upon the realization of how important they will be when I was working out with my personal trainer one day at the gym, and was continuing to ensure she understood the impact of emerging smart clothing technologies upon exercise routines.

The simple fact is, I drive my personal trainer nuts when I’m at the gym. She will try and get me to do a certain routine that has my limbs or torso moving within a certain defined area. If they move within that area, I’m doing it correctly. At the same time that she is trying to get me to do this, I’m busy formulating in my mind how we could reinvent exercise in the future with spatial data bubbles! Here I am on stage talking about this idea — in this case, an opening keynote for the YMCA/YWCA.

How will this work? First off, smart clothing will replace wearable technologies – read my post on that. I’ve been speaking and writing about smart clothing for years — two years ago, I outlined in a keynote for the Sporting & Fitness Industry Association that this would be a major trend to watch. Some of the bubbles which are emerging will be fascinating: a golf ball in the future will be its only little spatial-data bubble information generator as it starts to transmit real time information on speed, velocity, location and acceleration! Most sports equipment will exist in little spatial data bubbles that also align goals and objectives to performance.

So it will be with exercise routines. The  emergence of smart-clothing will solve the problem of ‘firing’ the right muscles during an exercise routine, by providing information on whether I’m in the right spatial area.  In the future, we will be buying clothes that will have a variety of embedded sensors and technology. When my trainer gets to me to do a routine in the future, and these sensors will be used to generate a data bubble around my body. She’ll be able to set a tolerance range — say, 10 or 20%. The bubble will determine if my activities are within that particular spatial range within the bubble — if so, I’ll be rewarded in some way. The better I get at the routine the lower the tolerance with the bubble will be!

If my activities stray outside the bubble — well, maybe the clothing will zap me! Big opportunities for performance-oriented exercise routines!

Spatial data bubbles will soon be everywhere! They are emerging at a furious pace with the rapid emergence of self-driving car technology.

Today’s collision avoidance systems have limited data bubbles, only looking at vehicles around them. In the future, the bubbles will be bigger, talking to the road, linking to other data bubbles, advance telemetry systems, road monitoring and lane allocation systems, and more!

The typical self-driving, connected car is putting off some 7 gigabytes of data per hour. That’s a staggering amount of information — and increasingly, more and more of it will be spatial data bubble oriented. Self-driving cars and trucks will talk to intelligent highway infrastructure technologies which might guide them on their journeys, and in effect, create a little bubble of data around the vehicle involving obstacles, other vehicles, road sensors and other stuff. Then there is stuff that is already here: peloton technology that has self-driving cars and trucks involved cars communicating their lo0cation in time and space with other vehicles so that they can travel in a space-saving, wind-resistant pack. The data bubble of a car has 360-sensing capability, looking for pedestrians, other cars and other information.

Spatial data bubbles aren’t new: they’ve been around for some time. Perhaps the best example are the robots used in advanced manufacturing systems. These robots need to have continual 3D awareness. They used to be able to operate on their own; but as their spatial data bubbles have grown, they’ve become collaborative, designed to work in proximity to people. They’ve become more spatially aware, with cameras, sonar and other tech. This has allowed them to become cognitive and quality-conscious , with feedback on whether assembly is done correctly. Increasingly, they are capable of working in multiple planes at once, with multiple axis movements. Their bubble will extend to human-operators, who might increasingly use spatial bubble technologies such as Google Glass, for remote operation, in a virtual reality scenario.

And therein lies a key point – virtual reality, more than anything else, will accelerate spatial data bubble technologies. This point was hammered home to me on the weekend when I visited Colony VR in Ottawa with my son, his girlfriend and my wife. Here I am smashing some balloons while in a virtual reality spatial data bubble!

A futurist in a spatial data bubble!

Virtual reality is going to have a massive impact on the rate of spatial-data bubble technologies, methodologies, data sets and more! VR will emerge as a significant tool for skills training, telemedicine, sports and so much more. And if you think about it, it’s all about data bubbles!

Location-oriented data is pretty easy and not terribly overwhelming in terms of quantity, because it essentially involves a couple of points on a map. Spatial data bubbles are infinitely more complex, because it will involve thousands or millions of data points involving that point on the map, and the areas above and around it.

If you think we’ve seen a data explosion in the past, we have, as they say, ”seen nothing yet!”

Spatial data bubbles are the new location intelligence!

One year ago today, I was the opening keynote speaker for the annual PGA Merchandise Show, one of the largest trade events in the world for the world’s largest working sport. I was on stage directly after Lee Trevino and David Ledbetter spoke; and was followed later by Bubba Watson.

As a hack golfer, it was a huge thrill – and it was the second time the PGA of America has brought me in to help them shape their thoughts on growing the game through innovation.

My talk focused on opportunities to link innovation to the fast trends impacting the world of golf, particularly through technology. Today, we are seeing growth return to the industry because of initiatives like TopGolf, new game tracking and training technologies, on-demand reservation systems, social networks and Instagram golf stars driven interest, and much, much more.

Here’s the really fun part: many of the offsite corporate leadership events that I do are held at really nice golf resorts – and there is usually a bit of golf involved, both for myself, as well as for the client! One recent client had me build a keynote around the trends that are accelerating golf and the need for agility and speed in the business sector.

The topic description I wrote follows. This might be a great theme for your own leadership event – contact me for details!

Driving the Future – Linking the Acceleration of Golf to The Speed of Business

The PGA of America, one of the largest working professional sports organizations in the world, has engaged Futurist Jim Carroll twice to help them align and adjust their focus to a fast paced future. A world that involves the 3D printing of customized golf clubs perfectly matched to a players stance. Course tee time yield management systems that now rival in sophistication those of leading hotels and airlines. An industry in which GPS golf analysis technology such as GameGolf, fast-moving golf entertainment complexes such as TopGolf, and smart clothing technologies are leading the game to new opportunities for growth. One in social media posts involving Instagram stars and Youtube clips are leading to accelerated interest in the game. Forget the idea of golf being a slow moving, traditional game — it is being disrupted to its core and is being positioned for growth through a relentless drive for innovation and high velocity trends.

In this fascinating presentation, Jim Carroll takes you on a fast paced cart-ride of a voyage into the new realities of business, by carefully linking the accelerated trends impacting the traditionally slow game of golf to the new world of business. One that is driven by the acceleration of business cycles, chipped away by the constant arrival of new technologies and competitors, and carefully stroked to success through perfectly aimed strategies. Don’t miss this opportunity to hear this fascinating presentation, carefully customized for those attending your corporate leadership meeting.

A little video clip from my keynote for the PGA – think about what happened when golf carts were introduced to the world of golf!

Food for thought when it comes to innovation and change…!

For as long as there has been the future, there have been people who don’t like it.

Ogden Nash captured that reality perfect, when he observed that “for some people, progress is great, but its’ gone on way too long.”

With that in mind, here’s a clip from my keynote for the PGA of America annual meeting. I suggest that one day soon, we’ll see golf balls with embedded Webcams. Good, bad? Who knows — but consider what happened when golf carts first appeared on the scene, and then what happened when GPS range finders were introduced to the game!

 

Here’s a keynote that will leave your audience members shaking in their boots at the same time they are ready to jump out of the gate and achieve great things!

Two powerful, inspirational keynotes back to back — my message around “The Future Belongs to Those Who Are Fast,” and that of Larisa Yurkiw, global ski racer, Olympian and World Cup Racer, on a “Daring Need for Speed

Every industry, business and profession now realizes that acting fast is one of the key metrics for success in the future. These two keynotes — at the start and conclusion of your event – provide the perfect bookends to what will be amazingly energized event!

To that end, you’ll want to understand Larisa’s story! Then, contact me for details on how to book us!


As an optimistic futurist, I’m always looking for the upside — I believe that the only way to move forward is to have an upbeat attitude on what you can do to shape the future in a positive way, rather than the easy way out of denigrating the potential of what comes next. It goes to one of my main points on stage: “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Real innovators see the same trend — and see an opportunity!”

wip-larisa-yurkiw-jan-22-2016-downhill-training-run

Larisa Yurkiw is one of the top 3 downhill ski racers in the world, an accomplished entrepreneur — and the first global athlete to combine these two skills in what has become known around the world as “Team Larisa.”

Which brings me to skiing!

At the age of  age of 39, some years ago, I somehow thought it could be an important cornerstone in my life and that of my family — that of becoming active, healthy and involved. If I was to live through my 40’s and beyond in good health — well, we should embrace winter!

So we took up skiing and my family became a family of skiers and snowboarders. I am so proud! (I could barely get down the baby hill the first few days – but in five short years, found myself skiing the Swiss Alps after I was the closing keynote speaker for the Swiss Innovation Forum.)

Little did I know that just about the same time, at my home ski club — a little bump of a hill in eastern North America known as Georgian Peaks — a young girl who was about 12 years old, was setting her own goals, determined to reach the podiums in her own life.

And did she ever succeed. Earlier this year, Larisa Yurkiw finished her career as one of the top-3 downhill racers in the world, racing with and sharing the podium with the likes of Lindsay Vonn, Julie Mancuso and others, on some of the most challenging courses in Switzerland, Italy and Austria, not to mention the Sochi Olympics. She challenged herself, dreamed big dreams, and established big goals — starting out a small little ski hill in Southern Ontario. During her racing career, she would hit speed of up to 140 miles per hour — and have to turn and balance on an instant.

Larisa

Looking for a unique keynote that focuses on the issue of growth, speed, and innovation? Larisa and I have talked about the idea of combining our story on stage into two powerful, back to back keynote presentations. My focus with organizations has always been that “the future belongs to those who are fast!” Larisa has demonstrated, through her racing career and her determination, that a “relentless focus on speed” is a powerful motivator for success! And on her own, she provides a powerful and compelling keynote: learn more at her site, www.larisaspeaks.com

Yet here’s the thing: Larisa’s story is not only personally motivating, but it also offers everyone fabulous unique business insight, and what happens when one if totally focused on a goal. For her, the racing career was a gruelling but ultimately rewarding trek. One that involved stunning disappointments, injuries and crashes that would  condemn most mere mortals to a life of stagnation — not to mention a national ski association that turned its back on her at a critical time.

With that, she persevered, and won on her own terms. Consider these simple facts, which Larisa now uses on stage in her own keynote presentations:

  • the average downhill racer hits forces of  3-5 G’s in a turn. Bode Miller  has been clocked at 12 G’s in a turn!! That’s more than the 3.5 G’s that astronauts experience in a rocket launch.
  • during her racing career, Larisa had 5 knee surgeries and 5000 hours of rehab — and yet still made it to the Sochi Olympics, and ranked in the top 3 in the world in subsequent World Cup racing season events
  • she raised $750,000 over the last 3 years in her ‘free time’ in order to ski for Canada – because the Canadian ski team felt like distributing the financial support elsewhere, and chose not to support her after a crash just before the 2010 Whistler Olympics. No funding? No problem. She set out to build her own racing team, and raised the funds through crowdfunding and constant, relentless and innovative approaches to potential sponsors

The rest of us would do very well to learn from her example, because it it a story of stunning courage, determination, focus, and passion!

In my own case, I’m honoured to have witnessed this singularly spectacular journey from the sidelines, and am in awe of the opportunity to call her a friend. These days, I’m providing her guidance as she takes on the new and challenging role of sharing her motivational story on stage. Learn more at her Web site, www.larisaspeaks.com

Which brings me to the movie Streiff: One Hell of a Ride.

If you want to discover a great movie, watch this one. It documents the gruelling training, preparation and mastery of the mind that is downhill skiing. If you crave for a movie with depth, this is the one that you want to watch. Do it now!

What struck me about the movie, when I watched it for the first time, was that the training for this most demanding of athletic competitions was beyond intense. The start of the movie focuses on 3 different downhill racing athletes and their approach to preparing for “one hell of a ride”.

To me, it seemed that each had an essentially different approach, that involved a focus on

  • agility: a racer that focused on a lot of exercise that involved the ability to quickly turn, change angles, and shift weight from one foot to another
  • balance : another racer seemed to build his training around the idea of balance and gymnastics
  • strength: one fellow training for the downhill is doing lunges UPHILL with heavy weights. Now that’s strong!

And while watching this, that jumped out to me as a powerful business mindset.

Given fast paced change with markets, customers, technology, business models and competitors, organizations today need to focus more on what they must do to respond. And that implies:

  • they need to have the agility to change quickly — before its too late
  • they must have the ability to balance their action against the reality of current demands — it’s a careful juggling act to keep one foot firmly focused on the future while the other provides a solid foundation for today
  • and they require a lot of core strength — whether it is skills and talent, determination to get ahead, or a leadership team that puts in place a solid foundation for growth

As you take your organization forward into the future, do you have the agility, balance and strength that is required? It’s a good question to ask.

Do you really want to challenge yourself in this regard? Larisa and I have talked about the idea that it would be great to combine our story on stage into two powerful, back to back keynote presentations. My focus with organizations has always been that “the future belongs to those who are fast!” Larisa has demonstrated, through her racing career and her determination, that a “relentless focus on speed” works out at the end of the day — in a pretty powerful way!

Over at InsightReplay, a company which makes the systems for tracking sports in real time, a blog post from 2015 with my observations on the future of interactive sports!

I post this today, because my predictions have certainly been right — the NFL is planning on embedding chips into footballs for the 2016 season!


There’s no doubt that technology—particularly interactive technology—will have an impact on the future of sports. With regard to both the player and the game, things will change, and as futurist Jim Carroll explains in his presentation, “The Future of Interactive Sports Technology,” those changes are just that—change.

You can watch Carroll’s short (6-minute) presentation here:

Some of the takeaways from Carroll’s talk include:

  • Kids today are growing up in a “widely interactive world.” They expect results instantly and receive great satisfaction from interaction and online connection.
  • Carroll predicts more and more sports equipment and products will have built-in interaction and data measurement. For example, today’s baseball bat is just that – a simple baseball bat. According to Carroll, the baseball bat of the future will be wirelessly connected to a web cam that automatically records a player’s swing style and speed. So not only will coaches have immediate access for coaching purposes, the kids, who are already so totally immersed in interactive technology, will upload video to social media to share with their friends and family.
  • Carroll also sees big changes in the game of golf, and describes his future version of the golf ball with a built-in web cam. Imagine those interactive views as the ball flies across the golf course!

Carroll’s point is the world of sports will continue to change and evolve as more devices and more players are integrally connected to the Internet of Things (IoT).

He urges us to recognize that this progression is what our next generation wants—and is, in fact, helping to create.

While there will always be debate about whether or not these technological advancements are ‘good’ for sports, Carroll frames the changes as “not bad, different.”

Technology is reshaping sports and what it means to be an athlete. From head injury detection and prevention, to clothing that warns of dehydration, tech is helping athletes become better, faster, and stronger. Video is also a powerful tool for both training and in-game scenarios, allowing coaches and players to capture real-time evidence of what they’re doing right and where their technique or performance can be improved.

Carroll makes some bold predictions and reminds us that the sports world is changing and we are about to enter some pretty exciting new territory. The player of tomorrow is going to be more interactive, safer and better trained than ever before.

As technology advances, there is no limit to the advances professional and recreational sports will see.

 

#thkpgapro — Video from my keynote for the PGA of America Merchandise Show: where I thank 3 key PGA Pros in my life!

It’s the 100th anniversary of the PGA of America, and they are running a campaign to encourage people to thank the PGA Pros in their life. In this clip, I’m going on stage to open the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, and I start out with my own personal thanks!

Are wearables about to disappear, and become a ‘technology from the olden days?’ They might as smart clothing comes to dominate our world of movement and fitness tracking in the coming time.

Over the years, I’ve had regular discussions with my personal trainer about the exercise routines she has been trying to get me to do. After all, being intensely curious, I want to understand the purpose of each particular exercise and what muscle group they are supposed to be ‘firing’ (her terminology). Today, we’re on the edge of an era in which smart clothing will become common, and this will help us to achieve this goal.

And so rather than carrying around a variety of ‘wearables’ such as a FitBit, you’ll simply put your clothes on, and throughout the day, your muscle activity, breathing rate, heart activity zones and other information will be automatically tracked. Wearables will disappear — and the way you conduct your exercise routines will be forever transformed.

I recently spoke about this trend during a recent keynote for the national meeting of the YMCA of Canada: here’s a clip from the Q&A portion of the talk:


The estimates for the growth of the smart clothing sector indicate that it is certainly a “next big thing:” Tractica, a research firm, predicts total shipments of smart clothing growing from 968,000 units in 2015 to 24.8 million by 2021; another firm, Research & Markets, expects growth from 140,000 units in 2013 to 10.2 million by 2020.

Smart clothing will provide several distinct capabilities, although any particular smart clothing item might contain one or more of these capabilities:

  • spatial awareness capabilities: you or your personal trainer will be able to determine if you are using the right muscle group for the exercise at hand. The clothing will allow for monitoring of your body position from a 3D perspective on a connected mobile or table device.
  • performance tracking metrics:  such as calorie burn or oxygen consumption, useful to understand if you are performing at the right intensity for the exercise at hand
  • cadence  measurement, such as when you are jogging or cycling
  • clothing that lights up and changes in relation to music or movement; this will be the new fashion and fad accessory!

There will be many other capabilities as well.

We’re already seeing some fascinating developments in the smart clothing space:

  • L’areal  has developed a UV tracking sticker that could help prevent skin cancer. Designed” in partnership PCH, with sensors from MC10, My UV Patch is a soft wearable heart sticker, packed with ultraviolet- tracking sensors
  • Athos sells “smart performance apparel that monitors your biosignals and distills them into meaningful insights” — in other words, if will tell you if you are doing your squats or other routines properly; it will measure muscle activity and effort,and help you interpret the data.
  • Hexoskin sells smart clothing that monitors calories burned, energy expended, breathing patterns and other information.

Right now available smart clothing products such as that from Hexoskin are premium priced, and are definitely not ‘mainstream’ when it comes to design. (A Hexoskin shirt can cost about $450!).

But as with any new technology, the price will steadily decrease, the technology and sophistication of the clothing will accelerate, and new markets and opportunities will be born!

Will the era of smart clothing result in the disappearance of personal trainers? Might we start using holographic trainers instead of real human beings? I put these questions to my trainer, and her response was:

  • -personal trainers will not get replaced by technology
  •  people want instant gratification, generally speaking they will not take the time to learn and correctly perform these more complex exercises on their own
  • the feed back that wearable technology and smart clothing can give them is great for motivation and will promote adherence
  • humans are basically social creatures and nothing can replace the face-to-face coaching experience
  • Nor the power of the words “good job!” And a smile! 🙂

And I certainly agree with that!

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