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Sports & Fitness

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.

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


Recent Posts in the Sports/Fitness category

#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!

There’s a lot of hype about the “Internet of Things.” What does it really mean? Here’s a video clip  that puts it in perspective in terms of the future of golf!

The big issue with the iOT is that it shifts the speed of innovation in every single industry to the velocity of Silicon Valley. This means faster change, disruptive business models, the emergence of new competitors, the arrival of fascinating new technologies that provide both opportunity and challenge.

This is a topic that I have explored at length on stage in countless industries, and in a variety of blogs. For more, check out these posts:

  • Silicon Valley Innovation Velocity to Dominate Every Industry arrows11.gif
  • When Silicon Valley Takes Over Your Innovation Agenda  arrows11.gif
  • When Silicon Valley Takes Over Heath Care Innovation arrows11.gif
  • Major 10 Year Trend: The Future of EVERY Industry to Now Be Controlled by Silicon Valley arrows11.gif
  • From 2008 : A truly staggering, transformative trend yet to unfold arrows11.gif

From my keynote for the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show.

Back in January, I was thrilled to be invited by the PGA of America to be the opening keynote speaker for the 2016 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando.


I will admit I was kind of disappointed Golf Digest didn’t ask me for my thoughts — after all, it sort of seems like I’m becoming the Futurist-in-Residence for the PGA of America. Maybe that might one day come about!

It was the second time they’ve invited me in – I was previously involved in providing an opening keynote for the 2010 Annual General Meeting of the PGA.

In both cases, I’ve done a talk that has focused on opportunities to grow the game of golf, by taking advantage and riding future trends, whether having to do with technology, demographics or economic factors.

There’s a wealth of insight, including video, scattered throughout my blog. And in my unwavering belief that everyone who has a passion for this sport must do everything they can do to help to growth the game, I’ve managed to get my entire 2016 keynote on my site in video form.

To that end, I was thrilled to see that Golf Digest Magazine ran an article on the Futurists who are providing opportunity for the game going forward. (I will admit though, I was kind of disappointed they didn’t ask me for my thoughts — after all, it sort of seems like I’m becoming the Futurist-in-Residence for the PGA of America. Maybe that might one day come about!)

Over on Facebook, there’s a group of passionate golfers who have established a group dedicated to sharing insight on how to Grow the Game. Anyone can join, but an invite and some bona-fides are suggested in order to keep the level of potential sales and other spam low.

When the Golf Digest article came out, some questions were made as to how much of it might come true. Given the number of PGA folks in the group who have seen me on stage, it was suggested I might offer up some thoughts. And so here I am!

David Cole – Virtual Reality

DavidColeDavid is certainly at the forefront of what is likely to be the biggest growth market in the world of technology in the next 5 years. The concept of virtual reality has been with us for quite some time; yet we are now at the tipping point where it is about to become very affordable, quite common, and certainly transformative.

There’s a lot of development occurring in the world of personal interactive sports and virtual reality; just a few weeks ago, we saw the release of the Oculus Rift, the first virtual reality device that provides for really fascinating, real interactive experiences. It will take us to a world of Xbox-like or FlightScope golf in our home that will make today’s experience seem primitive in comparison. Instead of just seeing August on a screen in front of us, we’ll be able to play Augusta, with our real clubs, in a fully interactive, lifelike 3D experience.

Yet David is talking about an even bigger future : that of immersive sports interaction. A few days ago, I was in discussion with a group that is seeking my insight on the future of the sports stadium experience. There is no doubt that fans in a football or baseball stadium — or at the TPC Stadium course — will use a lot more technology to enhance their experience, and become more involved…..

But David is going one step further. Let’s not just enhance the experience for those in the stadium — lets let others enjoy it too, from the comfort of their own home! Why not used advanced VR to let people travel to the Masters? Why not allow us to watch Brooke Henderson putt from just outside the ropes — even if we are a few thousand miles away — as if we were there? (A little shout out for a fellow Canadian there!)

The key will be putting the enabling technology out on the course in such a way that it doesn’t detract from the tournament or bother the players. To that end, I think Augusta has shown how this can be done with the immersive experience they already provide with the Masters!

David Douguet – Improving Lies – and Jihyun Moon – Making Grass Glow

DavidDoguetIn the world of agriculture, the acceleration of science is one of the most significant trends that is leading us to a fascinating new world, and both of the goals that are predicted in the article — turf engineered for particular climates, and grass that glows at night —  will most certainly come true.

It has to to do both with advances in genetic technology, as well as deeper insight into how to re-engineer plant varietals through non-genetic methodologies. And this ability to genetically reprogram seed varietals and combine them with traits from other species — while very science fiction like and probably pretty scary for some — is moving forward at a furious pace.

IMG_0064 copyRight now, DNA or genomic based science is hitting the accelerating speed of change known in the computer industry as “Moore’s Law.” That’s the rule that defines that the processing power of a computer chip  doubles every 18 months or less, and the cost cuts in half. That’s why we have the incredible power of a  supercomputer of just 10 years ago in our iPhones and Android devices of today. The cost of technology keeps decreasing at a furious rate.

The same trends is occurring with genetics. It took $3 billion to sequence the first genome; by 2009, that was down to $100,000, and just $1,000 a few years later. I often joke on stage that one day soon, we’ll be able to go into a local Best Buy and purchase a genomic sequencing machine. It might seem like a joke today, but it’s not.

What this collapse in cost represents s a future in which ideas like that of Jihyun are very, very real. Imagine what this will do for the game if we don’t have to quit at twilight but can continue on? Just a few years ago, the concept of 24 hour gyms seemed kind of off-the-wall – but because of shifts in work patterns and schedules, more people have a need to fit in their exercise routine at 3AM. So why not golf?

Dourest plans to rely on the same acceleration of science. We’re getting really, really precise in the world of agriculture, and turf management and designer-turf will have a huge impact on the game. In the world of farming, it’s already possible to have entirely different irrigation, fertilizer and pest control programs for one farm, and an entirely different set for another farm but a few miles away. I’ve been dealing with seed companies that can engineer a particular type of seed for one region that is totally different from the attributes of a seed engineered for another region.

In this world of micro-climates, we’re developing the ability to micro-engineer our actives for ever small land areas.

Overall, this means that the world golf superintendents will continue to become very, very interesting — and very, very challenging. But overall, it will only provide for opportunities of growth for the game. After all, why should we all have to suffer through the shame of blading the ball through Bermuda when a better, more localized version of turf has been engineered?

Kris Hart – Minding Millennials

I love these initiatives!

KrisHartEveryone knows that there must be tremendous efforts in growing the game through new and different methods of outreach to younger generations. After my keynote at the PGA Merchandise Show, I led a panel that included a number of folks who are making tremendous strides in this regard, including Kris!

CollegeGolfPass seems a like brilliant idea, particularly when you live through the experience of having a high performing golfer in the family who just didn’t quite “make the team.”

My 21 year old son Thomas boasts a 1-handicap, and in first year at university, tried out for the college team. It was fiercely competitive, and it didn’t go so well, such that his opportunity for competitive golf events pretty well disappeared. (I suspect that the sleepless nights that come with frosh week might have impacted his golfing ability that week, though.) Combine that with the idea that committing to the team would have meant playing every day, 7 days a week, with less time focused on his studies, didn’t exactly appeal to him.

Yet he would probably have loved the chance to play in a competitive environment without having to be on an elite squad — precisely what these two organizations seem to be focused on.

It’s good for the young people, and it’s good for golf.

David Williams – Searching for Golf Balls You Won’t Lose

DavidWilliamsGPS based golf balls are probably the holy grail of the marriage of technology and golf. I suspect they might be as common as nails in the next 5-10 years, and that today’s unlinked golf balls will soon be considered as ‘something from the olden days.’

The opportunity here is closely linked to the issue of engaging the Millennial generation as outlined above. My kids are 21 and 23; they’ve never known a world without the Internet, and actually laugh at the idea that their dad wrote 34 books back in the 90’s about how to use it! They’ve never known a world for the last 15 years at least, in which they haven’t had a mobile device or smartphone. GPS? It’s been a huge part of their world — I can’t even remember the last time they used an actual paper map.

And their generation will take to GPS golf balls like a duck takes to water. Not just for the convenience, but for the stats! For the last two years, I’ve been religiously using my GameGolf GPS tracker, which gives me a huge range of data on my game performance. (Or, as I tell some people, “it gives me really good data on just how bad a golfer I am.”) I’ve learned that 39% of my shots within 100 yards are within 15 yards (not bad!), and that . Yet it also tells me that….

The arrival of GPS golf balls with take us further down the world of interactive and personal-stats driven golf, which I think will be a great thing!

There’s also a big pace of play issue here. All of us know that one key complaint about golf is that it takes too long in today’s hyper-busy world. (Though personally, I live for the 4 hour 16 minute round that I get at my home club)

Tommy Morrissey – Ending Handicaps

TommyMorrisseyWhat an inspiring story — and it bodes well for society and for the future of the game. L

et’s give a shout out to Rich O’Brien, who runs *another* popular Facebook group that focuses on helping and encouraging disabled golfers.

I think that any golfer realizes that there can be tremendous payback from helping the disabled – both physically and mentally — discover the joy that can come from the world’s most maddening sport.

Over on Rich’s forum, I told the story of a friend of mine that was hugely inspirational.


LDRICI dont’ disagree with the predictions made about the arrival of golfing robots, and the fact that it will engage  the next generation, provide for some unique entertainment opportunities, and generate a lot of news coverage.

I just hope that I don’t have to bring my high-handicap game to bear against one of these devices!





Henry Boulton – Measuring Mental Toughness

Which brings us to Henry’s concept — that just as we physically train for the sport of golf, we will place an increasing focus on mental preparation.

HenryBoultonTo a degree, it’s happened already — gone are the days of Henry Varden and others preparing for the tournament the next day with buckets of Scotch the night before; instead, we have a world of PGA Pro’s with an army of sports and game psychologists in tow.

And so if my GameGolf device can provide instant GPS based measure of my round, it’s not a stretch to think that there will be a device that will help me analyze and dig deep into my mental state, both during and after the round.

Paige Spirant

PaigeSpiranacThere was a huge uproar in the world of golf about the role of Paige in the article – and yes, we live in a world in which sex sells.

Despite that, the fact is we live in a celebrity-driven, media-heavy, social-network-immersed world. Paige is one of several who has understood this reality in the world of golf, either by chance/accident or through a deliberate strategy.

Just look at what happened when Bubba unveiled the Bubba-Hoveer — there were hundreds of thousands of views in just a matter of hours.

Like it or not, in our world of hyper-connectivity, we’re likely to see more folks like Paige gain local, national and global attention for their role as ‘influencers’ of the game, even though they might not have the ultra-low handicap of other golf superstars.

Certainly that’s the case with me — I’m a relatively high-handicap, yet have passionate love and enthusiasm for the game. It only seems natural as a global futurist who has advised organizations such as Disney, NASA and others, that I might be gaining more attention for my views in the world’s greatest sport.

Bottom line: are the trends outlined in the Golf Digest article good or bad for the game?

My perspective?

Purists will argue that technology and fast science will come to ruin a very traditional game. After my opening keynote for the PGA Merchandise Show, one golfing traditionalist took exception to what I spoke about. I’ll dig out a link to that when I can — right now, I’m about to head out for a round of golf in Phoenix before my next keynote!

When I’m taking about future trends and innovation, my message can provide a degree of discomfort, concern, worry, and sometimes outright anger amongst my audience.

Yet the reality is this : we’re all going to be part of the future, and so we might as well make the most of it.

That’s why advice has always been this: “Some people see a trend and see a threat: other people see the same trend and see an opportunity.”



Change will happen at Silicon Valley’s pace, not that of the NFL or NBA or any other league or sanctioning body. Technology companies will become the driving force behind sports innovation

Last week, I appeared in USA Today, in an article about the future of sports.

They interviewed me just after my keynote on the main stage at the massive PGA Merchandise Show, and so there is an obvious slant towards golf. My quote and obserations are below.

This isn’t the first time I’ve talked about this aspect of the future of sport and fitness. I’ve done high profile keynotes for the Sporting & Fitness Industry Association CEO Summit; over 4,000 people at the National Recreation and Parks Association annual meeting, and two talks for the PGA of America!

You can read the full USA Today article In the future you’ll probably be able to pitch to Babe Ruth when you aren’t watching eSports here.

Jim Carroll
Futurist, trends and innovation expert

*Change will happen at Silicon Valley’s pace, not that of the NFL or NBA or any other league or sanctioning body. Technology companies will become the driving force behind sports innovation.

*Having just spoken to a PGA gathering, Carroll outlined a future in which any foursome will retreat to the clubhouse for post-round brews and … film breakdown. Within a few years, golfers will be able to post HD video to social media of their great shots, taken from cameras on the course and in the golf carts. They’ll also get detailed information about every shot they took; info will be gathered from the club, the ball, wearables and those cameras.

*The in-stadium (or arena) experience will be similar. Every object used in the game will soon be able to send information to a computer, so fans will be inundated with precise data about the speed of a baseball bat, the arc of a basketball shot and everything else.

Is this a bad thing? Is it a good thing? It’s easy to argue it both ways.

For example, after my PGA keynote, one traditional golfer who runs a site/blog known as “Wee Egg Mon” wrote Wee Egg Mon about how bothered he was by my talk.

It’s a good read, but he does make this observation: “Everything is going to change? Really? I hope not. I rather like the game the way it is.”

That’s the funny thing about the future. Sometimes it happens, and Ogden Nash captured the sentiment perfectly when he observed that for some folks, “progress is great but it’s gone on way too long.”

I doubt that the world of sports & fitness will look anything in 2025 will look anything like it does today, beyond the basics. Is that a bad thing? A good thing? Like I said, I have no idea. I just know it will happen.

The PGA of America invited me in again to headline their main stage, to talk about how various emerging technologies will provide opportunities to grow the game. I was delighted to share the same stage as Bubba Watson, Lee Trevino and Hank Haney among others!

Here’s the entire video, running about 35 minutes in length. If you love the game, you might find it to be a worthwhile watch!

The PGA of America (Professional Golfers Association) invited me back! I previously was the opening keynote speaker for the 2010 Annual General Meeting.

They brought me into the massive PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando last week; I was invited to provide a keynote on the main stage on the future impact of technology on golf, how this might provide opportunities to grow the game, and provide insight into what golf professionals should be doing to adapt to a world in which a greater number of players will be using GPS tracking devices, launch monitors and maybe even flyover drones!

IMG_0862 x550
After  my keynote, I had the chance to interview some of the leading technology companies in the world of golf, including TopGolf, NextGenGolf, GolfTec, GameGolf and ClubCar.


And backstage in the green room while waiting and preparing, I was able to meet both Lee Trevino and Bubba Watson. Truly a thrill.



I’ll blog more on my keynote, including video, in the weeks to come, but must say it was certainly a thrill!

A hole in one!
October 26th, 2015

At the 2010 PGA Annual meeting, I suggested that one day, we should have automatic webcams that would film your hole in one for social sharing later! One day it will be here!


“As consumer expectations for technology driven experiences increase exponentially, answering the phone and handwriting tee times onto a paper tee sheet are no longer the norms.” – Derek Sprague, President, PGA of America

In many of my keynotes focused on future trends and the necessity for constant, fast innovation, I often speak about the massive transformation occurring in most industries as the result of the acceleration of business models through technology.

Just consider the impact of Apple Pay, which speeds up the pace of change in the credit card industry; Internet-linked medical devices which allow for virtual healthcare; and Tesla Motors, which is shaking up the global auto industry.

What’s the impact? One estimate suggests that up to 40% of the S&P 500 will no longer exist ten years from now, if they fail to keep up with fast moving technology trends. That’s a pretty staggering thought.

Given this, every CEO in every industry needs to think as to how they avoid THE BIG MISS — playing up a golf analogy — and avoid the disruption occurring all around them.

While preparing for my keynote for the Sporting & Fitness Industry Association keynote, I reached out Derek Sprague, President of the PGA of America, for his observations on how technology has impacted the golf industry, and more specifically, the membership of the association, the PGA Professional. These are folks who are instrumental in the management and growth of golf courses, professional instruction on learning the game, and other aspects of a multi-faceted career. (I was the opening keynote speaker for the 94th Annual General Meeting of the PGA a few years back.)

Derek nailed it in two succinct observations:

In the last five years, video software, launch monitors and game tracking devices (like Game Golf) have brought the technology tools of elite professional players to the masses.  Understanding how to integrate volumes of performance data into traditional teaching methods has become “commonplace for PGA Professionals.”

Not only that, but yield management and mobile-oriented buying platforms aren’t just for hotels and airlines anymore.  As consumer expectations for technology driven experiences increase exponentially, answering the phone and handwriting tee times onto a paper tee sheet are no longer the norms.

That’s a pretty concise summary – the skills of the membership base has to change at a very fast pace as dealing with new technology comes to dominate an increasing aspect of their role. And it won’t end anytime soon — for example, think about how quickly drone technology will come to challenge the game in new and different ways.

Here’s a video clip from my keynote, about why it’s necessary to avoid THE BIG MISS.


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