Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 30, 2016

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 30, 2016


Non Stanford: Who’s who in Olympic triathlete’s team – BBC NewsBBC News

BBC News from August 08, 2016

It might sound like the start of a joke, but Bridgend-born triathlete Non Stanford, who hopes to win a medal at the Rio Olympics, believes her support team are vital.

“Any medal is not an individual victory, it is definitely a team medal,” said Stanford, 27.

Among them is a dietician, physiologist, doctor, running partner, coaches, and logistical support. [video, pre-roll + 0:48]


The evolution of Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans offense from August 28, 2016

Watching Marcus Mariota is a glimpse into the future of the quarterback position.

While Cam Newton looks super-human and feels non-replicable, Mariota is the end product of a decade-plus takeover of the spread option and air-raid attacks throughout college football.

When the Tennessee Titans did the all too predictable thing and removed the “interim” tag from Mike Mularkey, it felt to many like a missed opportunity to see a fully-fledged spread offense be built to challenge the league. Instead, Mularkey has instituted his “exotic smashmouth” offense, which blends old-school ideals with some creativity.

In some ways, putting Mariota into an old-school offense feels like a waste. Yet, what it may represent is a road map for the rest of the league on how to build structure around a new generation of quarterbacks who are experiencing an ever expanding gulf between what they’re asked to do in college and in the NFL.


We need to coach players to play according to how a game emerges

footblogball from August 26, 2016

… The player is one part of a dynamic system. The system is comprised of the game/training environment, the task, constraints and the interactions of players in attack, defence and transition. The player acts in context. This dynamic context creates information that needs to be perceived so that the players can regulate their actions. Therefore, it is important to train the perceptual and action systems of young players together. Recognising how the young learner perceives, accepts and or adapts to information sources is of the utmost importance. Information sources for “learning and coaching opportunities” can be designed in to practice but they will also emerge in the practice. This sets great demands on the coach.

“I don’t believe in a cause and effect, mechanistic type of coaching, where if you do this, this will happen. The context is always changing, the opposition is changing, and even the nature of the sport is changing. There are an incredibly complex set of variables within a team sport context” – High Performance Coach of the Year Danny Kerry (England Women’s Hockey Team Coach)


Derek Drouin says ‘contagious’ mentality put Canada on podium

The Globe and Mail from August 26, 2016

The groundwork for Derek Drouin’s Olympic gold medal at the Rio Games was laid in 2013.

The year after a disappointing London Olympics – when his bronze in high jumping was Canada’s only medal in track and field – Drouin says he and his athletics teammates flipped a mental switch and started to believe in themselves. Canada won five medals at the world track championships in Moscow in 2013 and in his mind it was all thanks to that new psychological approach.

“It’s been a shift in our mentality,” said Drouin on Friday before answering questions from fans in the heart of Toronto’s financial district. “We’re no longer just excited to be there. We want to be on the podium. It’s a mentality that’s contagious.

“Our young athletes are hungry and truly believe that as Canadians that was something they were capable of.”


Developing Decision Making Speed in Soccer

Amplified Soccer Training from August 25, 2016

Speed of foot, speed of movement, speed of thought and speed of skill execution all contribute in determining a soccer player’s ability to “play at speed”. Weineck (1992) listed seven characteristics of speed and their significance as they relate to soccer performance. These elements include 1) perceptual speed, 2) anticipation speed, 3) decision making speed, 4) reaction speed, 5) speed without the ball, 6) action speed with the ball, and 7) game action speed. My previous article dealing with the development of soccer- specific speed, discussed how players can improve their “movement speed without the ball.” This can be a critical factor affecting a player’s overall level of performance since the bulk of player movement – sprints, stops, starts body fakes, jumps, turns and sudden changes of direction – are often performed without the ball!

This article discusses an equally important element affecting soccer performance – decision making speed. A player’s ability to make correct split- second decisions is particularly critical at higher levels of competition where time and space are limited. The individual who can consistently choose the best course of action from a variety of possible options under conditions of limited time, restricted space, physical fatigue and challenging opponents will have a decided edge on players who lack that ability.


What a Bad Decision Looks Like in the Brain – The Atlantic

The Atlantic, Emily Singer from August 29, 2016

… In the last 15 to 20 years, neuroscientists have begun to peer directly into the brain in search of answers. “Knowing something about how information is represented in the brain and the computational principles of the brain helps you understand why people make decisions how they do,” said Angela Yu, a theoretical neuroscientist at the University of California, San Diego.

[NYU’s Paul] Glimcher is using both the brain and behavior to try to explain our irrationality. He has combined results from studies like the candy bar experiment with neuroscience data—measurements of electrical activity in the brains of animals as they make decisions—to develop a theory of how we make decisions and why that can lead to mistakes.


Rutgers football coach Chris Ash lays out vision for rebuild, Campus Rush, Chris Ash from August 25, 2016

I look back and laugh sometimes at how much has changed here at Rutgers since we got hired in December. I remember walking into the football facility for the first time, and it felt like a prison. Dull music played. The colors were muted. The few TVs that were up around the building were in standard definition, as the facility wasn’t wired for HD.

In the past seven months, we feel like we’ve overhauled the program in a way to begin the ascent to being competitive in the Big Ten. Obviously we’re at the bottom looking up at a lot of teams right now. That’s why the details are so important. It’s overwhelming to consider all the changes. We’ve undergone a $1.65 million overhaul of the weight room, added a nutrition program and modeled our recruiting operation after Ohio State. We have new practice fields being built soon, an overhauled training room and our locker room is also slated to get re-done. We have a new athletic trainer, a new equipment staff and even the people running the facilities are new.

We not only want people to see the changes we’ve made, we want them to feel the changes.


The NFL is putting tracking sensors inside its footballs for the first time

Recode from August 29, 2016

The NFL cares a lot about what goes inside its footballs — just ask the New England Patriots.

Which is why it’s significant that the league is thinking about making a change to the pigskin: The NFL has added a lightweight, quarter-sized sensor inside each football this preseason to measure actual game data as things unfold on the field.

The sensors, which rest just under the ball’s laces, can capture information like velocity, acceleration and distance, and send that info back to computer monitors in just half a second. The League has been using the sensors during preseason games this summer, but hasn’t yet decided if the sensors will be used in the regular season.


ConsumerMed Connected Device Makers: Yay or Nay on FDA?

MDDI Medical Device and Diagnostic Industry News Products and Suppliers from August 26, 2016

Connected consumer medical products have gone mainstream, but device makers are still taking different routes to market. Here’s why some companies have sought out FDA oversight while others skip it.


Assessment of Gait Symmetry Improvements in National Athletes after Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction during Rehabilitation

International Journal of Sports Medicine from August 23, 2016

This study aimed to quantify changes in gait parameters and their symmetries among athletes with anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstructions during a rehabilitation program. Twenty-two national players with ACL reconstructions and 15 healthy athletes were recruited. The gait data were collected between postoperative weeks 4–5, 8–9 and 12–13 using a three-dimensional motion analysis system. The spatio-temporal gait parameters and symmetry indexes (SIs) were evaluated for the patients and the control group. One-way and repeated-measures multivariate analysis of variance were used to analyse the data. The results demonstrated significant differences among spatio-temporal (P<0.001) and SIs (P=0.007) of patients for Test 1 and the control group. Repeated measure analysis revealed significant changes in the linear combinations of spatio-temporal gait variables (P=0.002) and SIs (P=0.043) over time. The injured limb’s step length, cadence and weight acceptance time presented significant improvement across time (P0.05). The rehabilitation program allowed national athletes to restore symmetry in spatio-temporal gait parameters toward the control group’s range 12–13 weeks post-reconstruction.


GE Healthcare and NBA provide analytical data on common spine injuries: 4 thoughts

Becker's Orthopedic Review from August 26, 2016

The NBA and GE Healthcare are issuing a call for proposals for researchers in orthopedics, sports medicine, radiology and other disciplines asking for research and evidence based treatments on myotendinous injuries.

Here’s what you should know.

1. A myotendinous injury impacts the complete area where muscles transitions into tendon. The injuries often impact an athlete’s performance, limit playing time and can recur frequently.


Open Data Spotlight: The Ultimate European Soccer Database

Kaggle, No Free Hunch blog, Hugo Mathien from August 22, 2016

Whether you call it soccer or football, this sport is the world’s favorite to watch and play. Thanks to Hugo Mathien who compiled, cleaned, and shared a dataset of stats on European professional football on Kaggle, it can become a data scientist’s favorite playground, too. Among other data points, the database includes 25,000+ matches from 2008 to 2011, 10,000+ players from 11 countries, and betting odds from up to 10 providers. This impressive collection of data allows Kagglers test their machine learning techniques by building models predicting match outcomes (can you beat the bookies?) and find insights through data visualization and storytelling.

In this interview, Hugo explains how he pulled data from a number of sources using Python’s Scrapy and overcame data integrity issues with manual effort to build this incredible dataset for Kagglers to enjoy.


FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS: Innovative Statistics, Intelligent Analysis | Are NFL Careers Really Getting Shorter?

FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS, Zachary O. Binney from August 29, 2016

… I started poking around to see if anyone had done an analysis like this. It turns out that in late February, the Wall Street Journal published an analysis of NFL career lengths with startling findings: the average career length of an NFL player had dropped from 4.99 to 2.66 years from 2008-2015. That’s a drop of nearly 50 percent in just seven years, and most of the drop came from 2011 onwards! Making the findings even more interesting, the decline was as linear as it was precipitous, and it held across all positions.


Spurs have youngest squad in PL, but Leverkusen are youngest in Champions League – Inside World Football

Inside World Football from August 29, 2016

Tottenham Hotspur have the youngest squad in the Premier League at an average age of 25.5, while Watford have the oldest average age at 29.8. But when it comes to the Champions League, Leverkusen (24.5), Monaco (24.9) and Lyon (25.2) are younger. Dortmund has the same average squad age as Spurs.

The figures are compiled from the CIES Football Observatory database of clubs in the Big-5 leagues of England, Germany, Spain, Italy and France. While the transfer window still has a couple of days to go before closing, the age profile of squads is unlikely to change dramatically.


Why proprietary paranoia might kill the soccer analytics movement

Richard Whittall, Front Office Report from August 25, 2016

… It’s impossible to know whether Jokanovic is overstating his lack of input in the situation, or whether the system Fulham uses is exactly as Wallace describes. For the sake of argument, however, let’s assume this “Both Boxes Checked” system is roughly as Wallace presents it.

On the one hand, The ‘BBC’ method is a simple way to balance so-called “traditional” and “analytical” approaches to player recruitment. Simply let both sides operate in parallel, and if both give the green light, both can take the blame should the signing fail.

Not only does this do away with the need for the analytics department to have to communicate their methods to a potentially skeptical audience, but it ensures that Kline’s particular analytical toolbox—the property of Tony Kahn’s company TruMedia—is not widely shared. As Wallace writes, “The actual detail of the model is the intellectual property of Tony, adjusted by Kline for European football, and it is not divulged to staff.”


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