Sports Science: Week in Review, Aug 20-27

Medals at the 2016 Rio Olympics are an opportunity to grade national sports science programs, and to compare how nations go about developing and preparing their elite athletes for high stakes competition.

The U.S. won more medals than any other nation, and did so without the benefit of a centralized government sports organization. In events like distance running, where private coaches train clutches of elite runners, the progress is noticeable.

The lack of centralization has helped U.S. volleyball. The bronze medal-winning women’s team has improved year over year, with a culture that is both fun and smart.

Dominant athletes are benefiting from superior training/coaching to prolong careers. It appears that the longevity isn’t blocking younger athletes from developing, but is more a matter of smart, effective training to minimize age effects.

And the combination of U.S. affluence and opportunities for women in sports has given our country’s women a leg up on world competition.

Among other nations, Australia seems to be falling off athletically (more on Aussie women. A decade ago the country had a sports science advantage but as the field gets more technical, the country may lack the engineering and computing know how to stay at the leading edge.

Based on reports, the UK held onto gains that go back when the country invested heavily in its athletes before the 2012 London games. (more from The Economist, more from BBC)

Japan and Canada, on the other hand, have improving national athlete development programs and more familiarity with developing new technology.

More things that I read and liked last week:

  • Tactics, Talent, and Success: Diversity in Scoring and Chance Creation (August 25, American Soccer Analysis, Benamin Bellman)
  • Kansas City Royals: Ryan Stoneberg on catcher training (August 23,, Brian T. Dessart)
  • Sleep recalibrates homeostatic and associative synaptic plasticity in the human cortex : Nature Communications (August 23, Nature Communications)
  • Meet the Team USA sports science guru transforming Everton (August 22, Telegraph UK)
  • For Basketball Players Like Josh Magette On The NBA’s Edge, Summer Is About Betting On Yourself | VICE Sports (August 22, VICE Sports)
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