Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 26, 2016

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 26, 2016


Myles Garrett clocked at impressive 19-20 miles per hour, Chase Goodbread from August 25, 2016

Add this to Myles Garrett’s resume as college football’s most freakish athlete: he can run like a wide receiver. And Texas A&M’s star defensive end has technology to back up the claim made by TAMU head coach Kevin Sumlin.

“He’s at 19-20 mph,” Sumlin said Thursday, according to Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle. “That’s where you start talking about receiver (and) DB speed.”

It’s just another display of outrageous athleticism for a defensive end listed at 6-foot-5, 262 pounds, who is one of the top draft prospects in college football. Sumlin’s miles-per-hour comparison stems from the program’s use of the Catapult system, which monitors players on the practice field in various ways using GPS technology. Catapult expresses speed in the form of a miles-per-hour reading.


Kansas City Royals: Ryan Stoneberg on catcher training, Brian T. Dessart from August 23, 2016

The catcher position is unlike any other in baseball. That’s why Kansas City Royals strength and conditioning coach Ryan Stoneberg molds workouts and training programs based on each player’s unique traits.

“Each of these players are individuals and that’s how I treat them,” says Stoneberg, who enters his 15th season with the 2015 World Series champion Royals. “They are different ages, play different volumes of innings, have different training backgrounds [and] injury histories….It’s important to recommend what they need moving forward, while recognizing their individual backgrounds. It would be very easy to have all of these players do the same things, but it would not be as beneficial to the player or the team.”

Consistency. Intensity. Volume Control. Stoneberg explains that regardless of in-season or offseason training, these three areas are essential to the development of his catchers.


Psychological momentum-a key to continued success | Performance Science

Frontiers in Psychology from August 18, 2016

One of the most fundamental characteristics about humans is their desire for success, especially in highly competitive societies. What does it take to be successful? Is success simply a matter of better performance, and if so, what specifically is it about performance that determines success? A long research tradition suggests that psychological momentum (PM) plays a critical role in goal pursuit and achievement. Accordingly, sequential runs of success are an essential feature of high levels of performance, meaning that better performers perceive and experience momentum of success, ride it as long as they can, and as a result, become more successful in the end. Theoretically, momentum is a principle vehicle of performance that will significantly augment future success and facilitate goal achievement. Consequently, an overall performance consists of occurrences of momentum that vary in frequency and duration. The higher the frequency and the higher the duration, the more likely is success. Research suggests that the main psychological processes that underpin momentum effects are confidence, competence and internal (ability-skill) attributions. Based upon related research, it is hypothesized that PM starts as a conscious process but subsequently becomes a major facilitator of nonconscious automatic execution of human behavior and performance.


Sleep recalibrates homeostatic and associative synaptic plasticity in the human cortex : Nature Communications

Nature Communications from August 23, 2016

Sleep is ubiquitous in animals and humans, but its function remains to be further determined. The synaptic homeostasis hypothesis of sleep–wake regulation proposes a homeostatic increase in net synaptic strength and cortical excitability along with decreased inducibility of associative synaptic long-term potentiation (LTP) due to saturation after sleep deprivation. Here we use electrophysiological, behavioural and molecular indices to non-invasively study net synaptic strength and LTP-like plasticity in humans after sleep and sleep deprivation. We demonstrate indices of increased net synaptic strength (TMS intensity to elicit a predefined amplitude of motor-evoked potential and EEG theta activity) and decreased LTP-like plasticity (paired associative stimulation induced change in motor-evoked potential and memory formation) after sleep deprivation. Changes in plasma BDNF are identified as a potential mechanism. Our study indicates that sleep recalibrates homeostatic and associative synaptic plasticity, believed to be the neural basis for adaptive behaviour, in humans.


A New Understanding of How Movement Decreases Stress

The Atlantic, James Hamblin from August 24, 2016

Elite tennis players have an uncanny ability to clear their heads after making errors. They constantly move on and start fresh for the next point. They can’t afford to dwell on mistakes.

Peter Strick is not a professional tennis player. He’s a distinguished professor and chair of the department of neurobiology at the University of Pittsburgh Brain Institute. He’s the sort of person to dwell on mistakes, however small.

“My kids would tell me, dad, you ought to take up pilates. Do some yoga,” he said. “But I’d say, as far as I’m concerned, there’s no scientific evidence that this is going to help me.”

Still, the meticulous skeptic espoused more of a tennis approach to dealing with stressful situations: Just teach yourself to move on. Of course there is evidence that ties practicing yoga to good health, but not the sort that convinced Strick. Studies show correlations between the two, but he needed a physiological mechanism to explain the relationship. Vague conjecture that yoga “decreases stress” wasn’t sufficient. How? Simply by distracting the mind?


High-intensity Interval Training in the Boundaries of the Severe Domain: Effects on Sprint and Endurance Performance. – PubMed – NCBI

International Journal of Sports Medicine from August 23, 2016

In order to compare the effects of two 4-week interval training programs performed at the lower (Critical Power, CP) or at the higher (The highest intensity at which V?O2max is attained, IHIGH) intensities of the severe exercise domain on sprint and endurance cycling performance, 21 recreationally trained cyclists performed the Wingate Anaerobic Test (WAnT) and a 250-kJ time trial. Accumulated oxygen deficit (AOD), surface electromyography (RMS), and blood lactate kinetics were measured during the WAnT. Subjects were assigned to 105% CP or IHIGH groups. During the WAnT, significantly greater improvements in peak (Mean ±95%CI) (5.7±2.3% vs. 0.2±2.2%), mean power output (MPO) (3.7±2.0% vs. 0.5±1.8%), and RMS (17.8±7.4% vs. -15.7±7.9%) were observed in the IHIGH group (P<0.05). Higher and lower AOD, respectively, at the start and during the second half of the WAnT were observed after IHIGH training. The changes in RMS and MPO induced by the training were significantly correlated (r=0.584). The 2 interventions induced improvements in the 250-kJ time trial. In conclusion, although the improvements in endurance performance were similar, training at IHIGH led to higher gains in WAnT performance than training at 105%CP.


WNT Spotlight: The Coolest Culture

YouTube, USA Volleyball from July 12, 2016

Hear from athletes Jordan Larson, Kayla Banwarth, Kim Hill, Alisha Glass and Christa Dietzen about what it’s like to be a member of the USA Volleyball Women’s National Team and what they’ve done to create such a tight-knit group.


The Neuroscience Behind Bad Decisions

Quanta Magazine, Emily Singer from August 23, 2016

Humans often make bad decisions. If you like Snickers more than Milky Way, it seems obvious which candy bar you’d pick, given a choice of the two. Traditional economic models follow this logical intuition, suggesting that people assign a value to each choice — say, Snickers: 10, Milky Way: 5 — and select the top scorer. But our decision-making system is subject to glitches.

In one recent experiment, Paul Glimcher, a neuroscientist at New York University, and collaborators asked people to choose among a variety of candy bars, including their favorite — say, a Snickers. If offered a Snickers, a Milky Way and an Almond Joy, participants would always choose the Snickers. But if they were offered 20 candy bars, including a Snickers, the choice became less clear. They would sometimes pick something other than the Snickers, even though it was still their favorite. When Glimcher would remove all the choices except the Snickers and the selected candy, participants would wonder why they hadn’t chosen their favorite.

Economists have spent more than 50 years cataloging irrational choices like these. Nobel Prizes have been earned; millions of copies of Freakonomics have been sold. But economists still aren’t sure why they happen. “There had been a real cottage industry in how to explain them and lots of attempts to make them go away,” said Eric Johnson, a psychologist and co-director of the Center for Decision Sciences at Columbia University. But none of the half-dozen or so explanations are clear winners, he said.


Team GB’s Olympic success: five factors behind their Rio medal rush

The Guardian from August 15, 2016

… 2) No compromise culture

Of all the buzz phrases that have echoed around the offices of UK Sport since it began investing heavily into those sports most likely to win medals, these words are the most commonly heard. It means that cash has been targeted at those sports most likely to bring podium places. The £350m invested in Olympic and Paralympic sport over the current four-year cycle is aimed at one thing: winning medals.


Tony Romo and the Cowboys settle in at The Star

ESPN, Dallas Cowboys Blog from August 21, 2016

… The Cowboys opened The Star, their new practice facility home, on Sunday in Frisco, Texas. As audacious as AT&T Stadium was when it opened in 2009, The Star, complete with the 12,000-seat Ford Center that will serve as the Cowboys’ indoor practice facility and home to Frisco’s high school teams, is equally audacious.

“I can tell you walking in, I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it,” Romo said.

The Cowboys called Valley Ranch in Irving, Texas, their practice home for 31 years. It was quaint and filled with tradition, but it lacked the amenities most teams have across the NFL.

“I feel like I’m a tourist here right now,” running back Darren McFadden said. “Just trying to figure out the lay of the land and find my way around.”


Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center unveiled at Oregon

The Tennessean from August 25, 2016

The massive, state-of-the-art “Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center,” bankrolled by Nike co-founder Phil Knight, was unveiled online by the University of Oregon on Thursday afternoon.

The 30,000-square-foot venue, named after the school’s 2014 Heisman Trophy winner and Titans’ second-year quarterback, combines “sports performance, sports science, sports medicine and technology in one efficiently designed space,” according to a release from the school.


UW athletic trainers, military medics learning from one another from August 21, 2016

… In an email, Ehlers outlined how the two staffs — medics from the Wisconsin Army National Guard and UW Sports Medicine personnel — take a similar approach to diagnosing and treating concussions.

“I’m looking for an environment where I can teach my medics clinical skills, but put them in an environment where they’re going to learn,” Ehlers wrote.

“The more Tim and I talked about it — the medic training and our training — we thought it would be a good way for their people to come down and observe,” Helwig said. “The same people pulling from the same resources in terms of care for concussions and it went on from there.”


Isaiah Woods speaks out about dealing with anxiety, depression while on Washington Huskies

ESPN College Football, Adam Rittenberg from August 24, 2016

Isaiah Woods’ most important contribution to college football came not from a touchdown catch in November but from a tweet in May.

On the night of May 29, Woods posted a message on his Twitter page: “This is me taking steps in the right direction to becoming myself again.”

In the 398-word disclosure that followed, Woods described the most difficult year of his young life. How he lost his love for football, which had brought him to Washington as a wide receiver. How he struggled to get out of bed, and how it got so bad, “I didn’t want to wake up at all.” How he soon learned the reasons why: depression and anxiety.


Why data analyst Craig Kline will have final say at Fulham and not manager Slavisa Jokanovic

Telegraph UK from August 24, 2016

There is still no mention of Craig Kline on the Fulham website which is unusual for a man who is the director of statistical recruitment, although the manager Slavisa Jokanovic is in no doubt of the influence that the American data analyst wields when it comes to signing players.

“It is better to ask questions to this man as he can explain what we are going to do in recruitment,” Jokanovic said on Saturday in what most go down as the most comprehensive act of managerial rebellion of the 2016-2017 English season so far. Without naming the player, Jokanovic put Kline in the cart for Fulham’s failure to sign Andreas Pereira on loan this month despite the fact that the 20-year-old Manchester United man came with a glowing recommendation from Jose Mourinho.


An Interview with Paul Depodesta on Moneyball and Football, Statistics and Scouting

Nautilus, Kevin Berger from August 25, 2016

… We interviewed DePodesta for our 2013 issue “The Unlikely” because we were anxious to learn his methods for uncovering unlikely skills in baseball players through statistics and probability theory. He was forthcoming with his insights, if not all his secrets. At the time, DePodesta was vice president of scouting and player development for the New York Mets. Although he built his reputation in baseball, he told us he really wanted to be a football coach. Earlier this year he got his wish to be in football when he joined the Cleveland Browns as “Chief Strategy Officer,” where he has put his skills to work to help the losing Browns reverse their fortunes.

DePodesta had other surprises for us during the interview. Yes, he analyzes players through statistics, but just as important, he told us, was scouting a player’s mental characteristics. For instance, he said, many young players don’t have the makeup to handle the grind of a long baseball season. He talked about his breakthroughs with the A’s and misperceptions about Moneyball, and how steroids have played havoc with his player analysis.


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