Innovation in the sports industry is constantly evolving, with activity driven by digital advancements, high-level of social media interactions, broad appeal for immersive sports experience, and fan engagement, as well as the growing importance of technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, cloud, data analytics, wearable tech and many more. In the last three years alone, there have been over 48,000 patents filed and granted in the sports industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Sports: Sport rackets.  Buy the report here.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity. 

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have. 

20+ innovations will shape the sports industry 

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the sports industry using innovation intensity models built on over 101,000 patents, there are 20+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry. 

Within the emerging innovation stage, portable dockable scoring machines, aural feedback type sporting equipment, and activity tracking camera network are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Adjustable weight putters, surf simulators, and polyurethane sports accessories are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are sport bats and sport rackets, which are now well established in the industry.  

Innovation S-curve for the sports industry 

Sport rackets is a key innovation area in sports 

A racket or racquet is a handle with a hoop kind of device used for striking a ball or shuttlecock in games such as badminton, tennis, racquetball, squash and padel. In the strictest sense, a racket consists of a network of strings stretched tightly. Sport innovation is advancing the development of stronger and lighter rackets. 

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established sports companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of sport rackets. 

Key players in sport rackets – a disruptive innovation in the sports industry  

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators. 

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’. 

Patent volumes related to sport rackets

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
NIKE 205 Unlock company profile
Amer Sports 112 Unlock company profile
Easton Diamond Sports 110 Unlock company profile
Performance Sports Group 46 Unlock company profile
Bauer Hockey 40 Unlock company profile
Mizuno 39 Unlock company profile
Easton Sports 38 Unlock company profile
Bauer Hockey 35 Unlock company profile
Newell Brands 32 Unlock company profile
Karsten Manufacturing 30 Unlock company profile
Easton Hockey 22 Unlock company profile
Cascade Maverik Lacrosse 21 Unlock company profile
Eaton 20 Unlock company profile
BASF 20 Unlock company profile
adidas 20 Unlock company profile
TOCA Football 19 Unlock company profile
Seiko Epson 19 Unlock company profile
Hillerich & Bradsby 18 Unlock company profile
New Balance 18 Unlock company profile
Continuous Composites 16 Unlock company profile
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Angewandten Forschung 15 Unlock company profile
Prince Sports 15 Unlock company profile
Major League Baseball 14 Unlock company profile
Yonex 13 Unlock company profile
Brg Sports 12 Unlock company profile
headtechnology 11 Unlock company profile
Jetson 10 Unlock company profile
Athalonz 10 Unlock company profile
Hillerich & Bradsby 9 Unlock company profile
Ping 9 Unlock company profile
Semiconductor Energy Laboratory 9 Unlock company profile
Sumitomo Electric Industries 8 Unlock company profile
TRIAD SPORTS 8 Unlock company profile
JT SPORTS 8 Unlock company profile
B. Braun Melsungen 7 Unlock company profile
Intellisports 7 Unlock company profile
True Temper Sports 7 Unlock company profile
Authentic Brands Group 6 Unlock company profile
NHK Spring 6 Unlock company profile
ProXR 6 Unlock company profile
Connexa Sports Technologies 5 Unlock company profile
ABB 5 Unlock company profile
CEA 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Nike is one of the foremost companies that submit patents related to sporting rackets. Other major entities in the same area are Amer Sports, Easton Diamond Sports, Performance Sports Group, Bauer Hockey, and Mizuno. Nike has the largest market share when compared to any other sports equipment companies, and is continually coming up with new trends and inventions in the area of sports gear and other paraphernalia. 

In terms of application diversity, Major League Baseball leads the pack. BASF and Continuous Composites stand in second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, BASF holds the top position, followed by Eaton and Connexa Sports Technologies. 

Technology has a significant impact on sports racket performance measurements. It is also possible to customise sports gear depending on the player's skill level. The recent progress in technology and material science has enabled the creation of sports rackets to be optimised for the best outcomes. 

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the sports industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Sports

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GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.