Report: 2024 Sports Trends & Predictions

Report: 2024 Sports Trends & Predictions

Contents – Report: 2024 Sports Trends & Predictions

  1. Foreword – 2024 Sports Trends & Predictions
  2. 2023 Sports Trends in Reflection
  3. 2023 Outcomes
  4. 2024 Sports Trends Forecast
  5. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Prescriptive Analytics
  6. Democratization of Technology
  7. Wearable and Video Integration
  8. Individualized Training
  9. Growth of Women’s Sports
  10. Focused Return to Play
  11. Conclusion of the 2024 Sports Trends Forecast
  12. Solution Snapshot: Revolutionizing Sports Performance Across Disciplines
  13. Trends In Sports Across The Years

#1 Foreword – 2024 Sports Trends & Predictions

Welcome to Catapult’s inaugural 2024 Sports Trends and Predictions Report. With over 4,000 professional sports customers worldwide, Catapult is uniquely positioned to gain firsthand insights into the trends that will shape the future of sports.

We recently surveyed over 700 global sports industry experts ranging from sports scientists, academic researchers, video analysts, and coaches, across multiple sports in over 80 countries. The interaction of ideas from sports such as football, American football, basketball, ice hockey, rugby, and motorsport has been particularly valuable. This cross-pollination of thought and experience has played a crucial role in shaping our trend forecasts for 2024.

This report summarizes the findings from this survey and provides a comprehensive overview of the 2024 sports trends set to shape the future of technology use. These trends include:

  • Increased use of prescriptive analytics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Growth of technology use in women’s sports
  • Improvements in athlete injury recovery protocols
  • Increased use of technology at all levels, from professional to youth
  • Integration of wearable data into video analysis
  • Focus on personalized/individualized training programs

Our intent in publishing this report is to share insights that are shaping our industry worldwide.
We hope you find it as fascinating and inspiring as we do.

The Catapult Team

Building on this foreword, let’s take a concise look back at the transformative year of 2023. This section of the report revisits our initial predictions and juxtaposes them with the year’s new developments, experiences, and key trends.

2023 From The Outset: A Year of High-Tech Performance

As we entered 2023, Catapult highlighted five pivotal trends expected to shape the sports technology landscape:

  • The broader adoption of wearable technology in various sports disciplines.
  • Enhanced performance insights through the integration of data and video analysis.
  • The rise of predictive analysis as a crucial tool in strategic decision-making.
  • Innovative trends in sports broadcasting, enhancing fan engagement and understanding.
  • The growing influence of virtual and augmented reality in training and spectator experiences.

While these trends set the stage for 2023, the year unfolded with surprises and evolutionary strides, reflecting the dynamic nature of sports technology. Below, we explore how these predictions materialized in the real-world scenarios encountered by our clients and partners.

Wearable Technology: Beyond Expectations

In 2023, we witnessed wearable technology exceed our predictions, solidifying its role in sports performance across all levels. Its integration expanded across a diverse range of sports, becoming vital in athlete training and performance evaluation.

Key highlights included its substantial impact at the grassroots level and in elite sports. A standout moment was Catapult’s significant presence at the Women’s World Cup 2023, where we proudly supported over half of the participating teams.

Catapult supports 17 of 32 teams at the women's world cup - demonstrating the increased use of technology by women's sports

This trend was not confined to football alone; the use of wearable technology permeated various sports, demonstrating its growing indispensability in enhancing athletic performance.

Data and Video Integration: Enhancing Performance Analysis

The fusion of data and video in sports analysis became a game-changer. This integration, especially through Catapult’s Vector devices and MatchTracker, provided deeper insights into player performance, enhancing decision-making for teams and coaches.

Premier League’s Luton Town exemplifies this trend. Jared Roberts-Smith, Head of Performance at Luton Town, shared, “Using Catapult’s Pro Video Suite has transformed our decision-making process. It offers precise, integrated data and insights, essential in the fast-paced Premier League environment.”

This shift towards integrated analysis underscores the growing importance of contextual data in sports strategy and performance enhancement.

Predictive Analysis: The New Norm in Strategy

Predictive analysis transitioned from an emerging trend to a fundamental strategy in sports. Formula 1, known for its technological sophistication, has been at the forefront, with its practices increasingly influencing other sports.

The cross-pollination of data strategies from Formula 1 to other sports is evident. Christoph Biermann’s “Football Hackers” highlighted this shift, noting the seamless integration of video and data in football, akin to the data-rich environment of Formula 1. He observed, “The revolution in sports data is well underway. Ignoring it would be a misstep.”

This trend’s growth over the year aligns with advancements in prescriptive analytics and AI, enhancing sports teams’ ability to anticipate and mitigate injury risks. We saw a heightened focus on predictive analysis in 2023, further embedding data-driven decision-making across various sports disciplines.

#3 2023 Outcomes

The trends, discussed in greater detail in our 2024 Sports Trends Predictions Roundtable, are briefly highlighted below:

Performance Enhancement and Training Optimization

There was a surge in technologies for enhancing performance and optimizing training, with data analytics driving tailored programs to new heights of efficiency.

Game Analysis and Tactical Decision Making

Advancements in real-time game analysis and tactical decision-making stood out. As one respondent expressed, “Coaches and managers now use real-time analytics for strategic decisions, influencing substitution patterns and game plans.”

Individualized Training and Skill Development

Personalized training programs, driven by sophisticated data analysis, catered to the unique needs of each athlete, enhancing skill development at an individual level.

Continuous Learning and Technology Integration

Embracing new technologies for continuous learning became a hallmark of sports organizations. A respondent shared, “Technology-assisted in our return to play process, allowing us to make evidence-based decisions on training and injury prevention.”

Injury Mitigation and Load Management

The focus on injury prevention intensified, with technology being pivotal in managing athlete workloads. A survey respondent noted, “Technology advancements played a huge part in reducing high-speed running-related injuries, providing essential workload data.”

These reflections indicate the increasing role of technology in enhancing various aspects of sports performance and strategy.

Concluding 2023 Sports Trends Reflection

Reflecting on 2023, the dynamic evolution of sports technology is evident. To delve deeper, we invite you to view our roundtable discussion, where industry experts analyze these trends and their impact.

Watch Our Expert Panel Discussion

Our “2024 Sports Trends” webinar, featuring a panel of specialists across various sports, explores key topics like AI, athlete wellness, and fan engagement. Led by Jozef Baker, this discussion provides in-depth insights into this year’s sports tech landscape.

2024 sports trends blog header

By watching this on-demand webinar, you can hear from leading voices in sports technology and gain a comprehensive understanding of the direction the industry is heading.

Click here to access the roundtable discussion and be part of the conversation shaping the future of sports technology.

As we transition from reflection to foresight, this 2024 Sports Trends Forecast encapsulates a series of emerging trends poised to redefine the sports technology landscape.

Our sports trend forecasts are derived from a combination of our in-depth research, industry survey results, expert roundtable insights, and customer experiences, offering a holistic view of what lies ahead.

Catapult surveyed over 700 global sports industry experts from over 80 countries ranging from sports scientists, academic researchers, coaches, athletes, and more spanning multiple sports including football, American football, basketball, ice hockey, rugby, baseball and motorsport.

In No Particular Order, Here Are The 6 2024 Sports Trends Experts Predicted To Shape The Sports Technology Landscape:

1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Prescriptive Analytics

Trend Overview – AI & Prescription

The survey reveals a compelling consensus: 80% of respondents affirm that AI and machine learning, essential in driving prescriptive analytics, will be crucial in 2024. A notable 52% of these respondents foresee the most significant impact in the ability to adjust programs in real-time based on comprehensive data analysis. 

Prescriptive analytics, the next evolution beyond predictive training, is set to revolutionize sports training by not only forecasting outcomes but also recommending concrete actions to achieve desired performance goals.

Sports Technology AI Use Case

Imagine a football team gearing up for a tournament. Prescriptive analytics tools would evaluate performance data to predict potential injuries and fatigue, but, prescribe specific training loads and recovery protocols for each player. Coaches can then implement these recommendations to ensure each athlete reaches their optimal performance state for the crucial matches ahead.

Why Is AI and Prescriptive Analytics Important?

The shift to prescriptive analytics in 2024 signifies a major leap in sports training, focusing on actionable insights and enhanced decision-making. With 52% of respondents highlighting the role of real-time data adjustments, sports practitioners can now rely on AI-driven prescriptive models to deliver targeted training programs, substantially reducing injury risks and elevating athletic performance.

This progression in analytics marks a transformative phase for coaches and sports scientists, offering the tools to process vast data sets instantly and recommend precise training adjustments. This immediacy in applying data insights directly translates to highly effective training strategies, tailored to the evolving needs of each athlete.

By significantly improving the accuracy and efficiency of training decisions, the incorporation of prescriptive analytics into sports training workflows signifies a shift from traditional reactive methods to a proactive, strategic approach. It heralds a new era of data-informed, actionable, and adaptive training methodologies that promise to raise the bar in athletic performance and strategic health management in the years to come.

Automate Athlete Data to achieve 95% workflow efficiency

Further Reading and Resources

As the sports industry progresses into 2024, understanding the deep impact of prescriptive analytics is vital. It is anticipated that the application of AI in sports will streamline operations, enabling teams and athletes to optimize their performance through refined processes.

With that in mind, our webinar demonstrates the potential for a 95% reduction in time spent on analysis workflows. This time-saving is achieved by automating existing processes and streamlining training. It also enhances the entire operational efficiency of sports teams.

Learn about the advantages of workflow automation in sports training with our informative webinar.

2. Democratization of Technology

Trend Overview

In 2024, we’re anticipating a significant shift towards greater accessibility of sports technology, a sentiment echoed by 33% of survey respondents who see this as the most influential trend in the global sports industry. Wearables and video analysis tools are becoming more accessible, a game-changer for teams and athletes at all levels.

Democratized Tech Use Case

For semi-professional football clubs, enhanced access to technology like Catapult’s Vector devices and sophisticated video analysis tools is transformative. These resources allow clubs to gain high-level performance insights, equipping them to train, mitigate the risks of injuries, and develop strategies akin to elite teams.

A key benefit of using these technologies from the early stages of athletes’ careers is the accumulation of long-term performance data. This extended data collection provides a comprehensive benchmark for evaluating athletes’ progress and adapting training programs to their unique development needs. It also aids in understanding the impact of different training regimes on performance and health, leading to informed decisions that enhance career longevity and minimize injury risks.

In summary, the early adoption of these technologies in semi-professional environments sets the stage for sustained athlete development and long-term success.

Why Is The Democratization of Technology Important?

The trend towards accessible technology empowers sports practitioners to adopt more comprehensive and data-driven training and development approaches. They can now leverage precise tracking and analytics to tailor training and make informed decisions, regardless of their team’s level or financial capabilities.

In particular, performance analysis-based staff at smaller clubs stand to benefit immensely from this trend. Access to advanced video analysis tools allows for an unprecedented level of detail in performance insights, merging video data with wearable analytics to provide a holistic view of athlete performance.

Vector Core: Simplifying Load Management for All Teams

Vector Core exemplifies this trend towards accessibility. It simplifies load management, allowing seamless data sharing across different performance levels.

“The Vector Core solution has simplified our load management practices, increasing coach communication and helping our developing players reach First Team benchmarks.”

Sigurdur Hoskuldsson, Assistant Coach at Valur Football Club

Matt Bairos, Chief Product Officer at Catapult, states, “Vector Core is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, offering a game-changing solution for teams to enhance athlete performance and health.”

For more on how Vector Core exemplifies this trend by making advanced technology accessible, visit our Vector Core announcement.

3. Wearable and Video Integration

Trend Overview – Integrated Data + Video

In 2024, the trend towards integrating wearable technology with video analysis is anticipated to be a transformative force in sports performance analysis, with 20% of industry survey respondents recognizing its significant impact. 

Moreover, 35% predict the emergence of new hybrid roles bridging Strength and Conditioning and Data Analysis, while 19% foresee real-time video insights becoming a substantial trend.

Use Case of Data + Video

In a professional football club setting, the utilization of wearable devices during training sessions to track key physiological and biomechanical data, alongside the use of video analysis tools for capturing tactical movements, represents a significant advancement in player performance analysis.

This integration of data streams provides coaches and analysts with a comprehensive view of each player’s performance. It allows them to correlate physical exertion with tactical maneuver on the field, which is crucial for tailoring training and recovery protocols to individual needs.

Additionally, the emergence of hybrid roles within clubs, bridging performance analysis and video analysis, further enhances the effectiveness of this approach. These hybrid professionals are equipped to interpret and synergize data from both wearables and video sources, providing a more cohesive and detailed understanding of player performance. This role is increasingly becoming a vital asset in clubs, ensuring that the wealth of data collected is translated into actionable insights for athlete development and team strategy.

Why Is Integrated Video and Data Important?

For sports practitioners, this trend heralds a new era of comprehensive athlete understanding. The ability to merge physical data with tactical video footage means an enriched, informed coaching strategy, allowing for a nuanced analysis of player performance that can influence critical decisions in high-stakes situations.

Video coordinators benefit from this integration by providing a narrative that combines physical data with visual analysis. This comprehensive perspective is crucial for detailed post-match reviews and future training planning, ensuring all aspects of performance are synergised.

“Adding context through video is crucial. Visualizing and understanding load differences leading up to injuries, for example, is vital. When sharing insights with coaches, adding game- or training-based context makes it much easier for them to comprehend the insights.”

Elliott Axtell, Chelsea FC’s U23 Lead Athletic Development Coach, highlights the importance of this integration.
Chelsea FC: Integrated Data + Video

Further Reading and Resources

To see how this integration can transform team performance, read about Chelsea FC’s innovative application. Axtell’s insights offer a glimpse into how combining data with context can revolutionize performance analysis. Learn about Chelsea FC’s approach to integrating wearable data and video analysis.

4. Individualized Training

Trend Overview – Bespoke Training Practice

The approach towards personalized and individualized training programs is set to become more prevalent in 2024, with 13% of industry professionals identifying it as a pivotal trend. Utilizing advanced technology, coaches are expected to develop training regimens that meet the distinct requirements of each athlete, driven by sports-specific algorithms and data analytics.

Use Case of Individualized Training

The varying physical and technical demands in sports like rugby, ice hockey, football, and American football call for specialized training regimens. Technology facilitates the creation of tailored programs that cater to the unique needs of each position and player, such as goalkeepers in football who require a focus on reflexes over endurance.

Jonathan Quick #32 of the Los Angeles Kings

Why Is Bespoke Sports Practice Important?

Sports practitioners can harness the power of data to design targeted development strategies for each athlete. This bespoke approach leads to more effective training, faster performance improvements, and a lower risk of injuries.

Video coordinators are integral to this personalized approach, providing visual analysis that, when integrated with data from wearable technology, offers a complete profile of an athlete’s strengths and areas needing development.

“Not unlike pitchers in baseball and their shoulder and elbow health programs, we got to manage goalies’ hip health. The new goaltender analytics has elevated all key stakeholders to be able to intervene and make sure that we’re managing that position, getting the most out of them with the least amount of strain on their bodies,”

LA Kings’ Director of Strength and Performance Science, Matt Price

Further Reading and Resources

To delve deeper into the benefits of personalized training, examining Catapult’s work with Feyenoord and the LA Kings offers a practical perspective. These case studies illuminate the successful application of individualized training programs across various sports.

5. Growth of Technology In Women’s Sports

Trend Overview – Women’s Sports Growth

The year 2024 is poised to be a landmark year for the advancement of women’s sports, with an overwhelming 80% of industry professionals anticipating a larger role for sports analytics in this domain. Optimized training tailored specifically for female athletes, along with data-driven decision-making strategies, are identified as pivotal areas of impact for women’s sports.

University of Maryland Women's Volleyball

Growing Tech Application in Women’s Sports: Use Case

Analytics in women’s football is a prime example of this trend’s increased impact. Here, data analysis tools can offer comprehensive insights into performance, informing more effective, physiologically and tactically appropriate training and gameplay strategies. This can significantly elevate the performance standard and broaden the visibility of women’s teams.

A similar trend is observed in NCAA Volleyball, where increased investment in analytics and technology, like Catapult’s Vector T7 units, is enhancing athlete development.

“Our holistic student-athlete development model at Pitt is greatly supported by the objective information gathered from training sessions. These insights aid our sports performance team in crucial discussions related to health, wellness, and return-to-play strategies.”

Stephanie Mock, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Performance at Pitt Panthers, highlights the importance of this investment.
Hannah Pitt with the German National Team players

Why This Is Important for Women’s Sports?

For those working in women’s sports, the integration of analytics facilitates an enriched environment for athlete development. Coaches can implement data-informed training regimes, promoting well-being and honing tactics.

In particular, video coordinators are set to benefit from the wealth of data now available, enabling them to provide detailed performance insights and contribute to the strategic planning that is vital for developing a competitive edge.

Further Reading and Resources

A thorough understanding of the transformative effect of analytics on women’s sports can be gleaned from collaborative initiatives such as the Loughborough x West Ham partnership.

At Catapult Sports, we are delighted to announce our collaboration with Loughborough University and West Ham United Women's Team in a groundbreaking research study to transform women's football player development.

“We are thrilled to be leading on such a vital piece of research as women’s football continues to go from strength to strength. By collaborating alongside campus partners, West Ham United Women, Catapult Sports, and Kukri, we have collectively brought together some of the best minds in sports performance to deliver a research project that will yield impactful results.”

Rich Ellis, Head of Commercial Partnerships and Sports Facilities at Loughborough University
West Ham United Women's Team in Catapult Vests

6. Return to Play

In 2024, the sports industry is set to prioritize strategic Return to Play (RTP) protocols, with a focus on leveraging real-time data to optimize the RTP process. Industry professionals underscore the importance of customizing rehabilitation programs using data-driven insights, aiming to reduce the risk of re-injury and ensure athletes return to competition safely and effectively.

Use Case – RTP

Athletes in high-contact sports, such as rugby, ice hockey, and American football, require meticulous monitoring during their injury recovery. Wearable technology plays a crucial role by providing real-time data on an athlete’s recovery progress, which is essential for a phased and informed reintroduction to training. For instance, monitoring a rugby player’s rehabilitation from a knee injury via wearable tech allows for a calculated, step-by-step return to play, mitigating the risk of re-injury.

Return to play process breakdown from when the injury occurs to a full return to sport

Why Is Return To Play Important?

For sports practitioners and medical teams, the trend towards data-driven RTP means a shift towards more informed and strategic rehabilitation planning. Real-time data integration is crucial, With 14% of survey participants expecting to see more focused approaches to improve and create faster return-to-play plans. This approach enables a deeper comprehension of an athlete’s recovery trajectory, essential for custom-tailored rehabilitation protocols.

Video analysis personnel will find the integration of wearable data with video footage to be a game-changer, offering a comprehensive view of an athlete’s recovery and enabling precise assessment of their readiness to return to play.

Further Resources

To effectively implement RTP strategies, practitioners can utilize the eBook “Building Effective Return to Training Programs: Planning, Delivery, Evaluation,” which offers practical guidelines for data-driven RTP protocols. Additionally, ‘Science for Sport’ provides extensive analysis on load management, essential for injury prevention and safe RTP in youth sports settings. These resources are crucial for organizations aiming to adopt advanced RTP protocols.

Download the eBook on Building Effective RTP Programs and explore load management strategies at Science for Sport.

The trends we’ve outlined reflect a sports technology landscape that is evolving rapidly, pivoting towards more data-driven, inclusive, and athlete-centric approaches. These trends embody the sports industry’s collective ambition to push the boundaries of performance and innovation.

As 2024 unfolds, the insights gleaned from our roundtable discussions will continue to enrich our understanding of these trends. To further engage with these developments and join the ongoing dialogue, we invite you to view our roundtable discussion.

2024 sports trends blog header

Click here to access our 2024 Sports Trends Roundtable, and be part of the conversation that is shaping the future of sports performance technology.

#6 Solution Snapshot: Revolutionizing Sports Performance Across Disciplines

As we look ahead, Catapult’s role in this evolving landscape is more vital than ever. Our innovative product suite is at the heart of this transformation, offering cutting-edge solutions for a broad spectrum of sports. Our commitment is to not only keep pace with these trends but to lead them, providing tools that enhance performance and coaching across various disciplines.

In this snapshot, discover how solutions like Vector, Pro Video, and Thunder are revolutionizing sports performance, from football to rugby, and ice hockey to American football. Each product is a testament to our dedication to pushing the limits of what’s possible in sports technology.

For a hands-on experience of how our solutions can transform your approach to sports performance, access free product demonstrations via the QR codes provided.

Solution Snapshot - Vector pro, Pro Video suite, Thunder video analysis

#7 Be Part of the Ongoing Dialogue in Sports Technology

As we close this comprehensive report of the 2024 Sports Trends Forecast, we extend an invitation to each of you to remain actively engaged in this dynamic and ever-evolving conversation.

Join the Conversation in 2025 Sports Trends

Your insights and experiences are invaluable in shaping the future of sports technology. We encourage you to participate in our annual survey, which significantly influences our research and trend predictions. Be on the lookout for it towards the end of the year!

The Team Behind Your Team

At Catapult, we pride ourselves on not just being a provider of cutting-edge technology but also being a partner in your journey to unleash potential. Our team of dedicated account representatives and customer success experts are always available to support you.

Whether you have questions about this report, need guidance on implementing our solutions, or wish to discuss broader trends in the sports industry, our team is here to assist. We understand the unique challenges and opportunities that come with technological advancements in sports, and we are committed to helping you navigate them.

Reach Out for Tailored Support

If you require personalized advice or have specific queries, do not hesitate to contact your Catapult account representative. Alternatively, our customer success representatives are always ready to provide expert insights and solutions.

A snapshot of the teams Catapult works with in 2024. Teams and organisations include: NFL, FFR, NHL, NRL, Rugby AU, F1, 24h Le Mans, Boston Celtics, West Ham FC, Duke University, Newcastle United, PWHL, Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team, and many more.

About Catapult

Catapult exists to unleash the potential of every athlete and team on earth. Operating at the intersection of sports science and analytics, Catapult products are designed to optimize performance, mitigate the risk of injury, and improve return to play. Catapult works with more than 4,000 elite teams in over 40 sports across more than 100 countries globally.

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