As 2016 comes into full swing, all the freshly minted gym memberships that have lasted into February start to show signs of wear and use and fitness enthusiasts are eager to discover what advances the health horizon promises for the year. Within the college and professional sports arenas, stakes continue to rise and coaches, players, owners, and managers pour funding into technological advances that can help give them a competitive edge.
Important technology trends are taking the sports world by storm. From helping millions of people improve their fitness efforts to transforming professional and collegiate programs into powerhouses, technology is here to stay. Here are the five technological trends we expect to make the largest impact in the sports world in 2016.
Trend 5: Injury Prevention Technology
As salaries and contract costs continue to rise across the board in professional sports, team administrators and owners eagerly seek out ways to keep their athletes healthy and in top performance condition. One fast-growing trend in 2016 will surface in the form of utilizing technology to help prevent injuries. Sports science companies including Kinduct Technologies, Kitman Labs, and CoachMePlus are delivering results by collecting data, optimizing workout plans, and focusing on in-depth assessments of individual athletes and the ways they move and perform.
These types of tools and more (including tools like wearable microchips embedded in clothing that monitor muscle fibers, heart rates, blood flow, and minute movement patterns) are quickly becoming standard issue for professional and college sports teams.
Trend 4: Virtual Reality
Many sports authorities including Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and CBS Sports have recognized STRIVR Labs, a self-hailed “Immersive Performance Training” technology company, as an offering with industry-changing potential. Sports Training in Virtual Reality (STRIVR) Labs has signed with an impressive array of professional and collegiate teams within just 13 months of their incorporation in January of 2015.
The scientific evidence that provides support for its methods could launch the group into quick success and high demand. As virtual reality continues to gain interest and exposure in other areas including education and entertainment, the sports world will prove to be no exception as it eagerly seeks new methods of athlete improvement. Virtual reality offers the chance to mentally train and practice while avoiding prolonged physical activity and decreasing the risks of injury, providing a win-win opportunity for coaches, owners, and athletes alike.
Trend 3: Smart Phone Apps
Hailing at number 17 in the “Worldwide Survey of Fitness Trends for 2016” survey published by the American College of Sports Medicine, smartphone apps are becoming a standard means of tracking, education, and reporting in the efforts of fitness enthusiasts at every level. From using GPS location services to track times and distances for running and cycling to downloading libraries of workout demonstration videos and prompts to reference while in the gym, the volume and variety of smartphone apps available to enhance your fitness efforts is at once liberating and staggering.
As phone technology including GPS location tracking and motion-sensing continues to sharpen and improve, these tools will become even more accurate and useful. In addition, the added benefit of being able to record data over time allows anyone, from the weekend lifter to the advanced athlete, to track and improve their workouts and, ultimately, their performance.
Trend 2: The Ever-Present Sports Arena
The days of sports occurring in a particular place (the arena, field, court, or rink) and at a particular time are long gone and sports business is feverishly exploring how to capitalize on the technological playing field in which today’s sports fans exist. The Standford Graduate School of Business published an exploration of the way sports leagues and franchises seek to capitalize on technology to reinvent fan-ship and sports involvement. Tools like drones, tablet displays, cameras, RFID technology, projection screens, location-based SMS messaging and more are being tested in stadiums and other sports facilities to provide more personalized experiences for their fans.
Outside game day and traditional sports event attendance, leagues and teams across the nation are testing sophisticated social media campaigns, advertising strategies, and applications to further engage their fans and increase their exposure. Implementing these technologies will become vital as sports organizations vie for the attention of their fan bases.
Trend 1: Wearable Technology
According to ACSM’s report mentioned above, wearable technology is the single largest trend that will influence the fitness world in 2016. Devices like smartwatches, fitness trackers, GPS watches and tracking devices, and heart rate monitors have exploded in popularity over the last several years and the number of people utilizing these tools continues to climb. Plenty of devices and options are available to suit any health enthusiast’s needs — from watches that assist in advanced long-distance training to simple wearable wristbands that allow their wearers to track the number of steps they take. These devices can provide helpful insight and data-driven objectivity and help you adjust your workouts for optimum results.
As technology and sports continue to meld, advances could lead to dramatically improved performance not only in elite athletes but in any fitness enthusiast willing to explore the possibilities. Technology is here to stay and 2016 will likely see an exponential increase in its applications and usage within the sports and fitness worlds.
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