Applied Sports Science newsletter – November 30, 2016

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


Dina Asher-Smith believes extra muscle can power her into sprinting elite

The Guardian, Sean Ingle from November 29, 2016

“I’ve got to get some muscles on my little chicken wings,” says Dina Asher-Smith, erupting into joyous laughter at the thought. “When I stand next to everyone else I’m like yeah, look how tiny I am!”Britain’s fastest woman is discussing how she intends to step up to the next level for the London 2017 world championships – which might appear a little churlish given she won an Olympic 4x100m bronze medal and gold over 200m at the European Championships this year.

This is at 20 years old while also juggling the second year of a history degree at King’s College, London. But Asher‑Smith, who was also fifth in the 200m in Rio, believes that by upping her training to six days a week from five and spending more time in the gym she can get much stronger – and faster. “There are a lot of stabilisation exercises, making sure that I am a bit more co-ordinated so my muscles work together far better,” she says. “I’ve also been working hard trying to get some abs, trying to get some arms, so I’m really excited for 2017. I can’t wait to race. I feel like a baby that has reins to stop them running around everywhere.”


The redemption of Tyler Hamilton

CyclingTips, Shane Stokes from November 29, 2016

He’s a stage victor in all three Grand Tours, and the winner of the 2003 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. He’s also a former pro rider, past doper and current anti-doping advocate. Tyler Hamilton spoke this month to a crowd of students and academics in Oxford, England. He opened up about his past in the sport, using his example as a cautionary tale about the pressures of sport and the temptation of doping.

One day before that talk he gave a detailed interview to CyclingTips about the crucial lessons learned during what has been a convoluted and painful journey.


Lionel Messi with Guillem Balague: ‘Barcelona organisation trumps individual talent’

Sky Sports from November 29, 2016

… “I think it is organisation. Nowadays more than ever, having a team which is organised, compact and knows how to react to every circumstance is the most important thing,” he said.

“Achievements are made when you have a good team which works hard and I think everything starts with the organisation.”

Asked if ‘Messidependencia’, the thought that Barcelona rely solely on the 29-year-old, was flattering or worrying, Messi said: “Not one thing or the other because I know it isn’t the case.


Why running could keep you awake at night

The Conversation, Vladyslav Vyazovskiy from November 29, 2016

… Being awake and being asleep aren’t two mutually exclusive, uniform states. At times you can be more deeply asleep or more wide awake than others, and the boundary between the two can be blurred. Your normal behaviour, such as the ability to react quickly to unexpected events, deteriorates as you stay awake beyond your regular bedtime. We don’t know exactly why this is but it may be that parts of your brain go to sleep even when you’re technically awake. But with the right motivation, we can also force ourselves to stay awake and even restore our performance temporarily.

How long we need to sleep or can stay awake for depends to some extent on our genes, but evidence suggests they are also affected by what activities we do while we’re awake. Surprisingly, we still don’t know what is it about being awake that puts pressure on our bodies to sleep, but scientists often refer to is as “Process S”. Like an hourglass, the levels of Process S indicate how long we’ve been awake or asleep and how likely we are to fall asleep or wake up at any given moment.

Recent evidence suggests that sleep is initiated not by the brain as a whole but by local networks of neurons that were used more while awake. My colleagues and I wondered if parts of the brain responsible for certain behaviours had more of an affect on our ability to stay awake than others.


How Weight Affects Your Race Times

Runner's World, Amby Burfoot from November 28, 2016

Weight matters in running. Shave a few ounces off your shoes or pounds off your body, and you’ll likely run faster. A new paper from Rodger Kram’s highly regarded biomechanics lab at the University of Colorado adds to our understanding of weight, running economy, and race performance.

In the study, researchers first had to trick their way, literally, through a knotty protocol problem. How do you conduct a study when subjects can easily tell whether they’re wearing sleek racing flats or heavier training shoes? To solve this issue, first author Wouter Hoogkamer, PhD, brought in a U.S. Olympic steeplechaser.

Shalaya Kipp won the NCAA steeplechase title in 2012, and then went on to compete in the London Olympics. She was fourth in the steeplechase at the U.S. Olympic Trials this year. She’s currently pursuing an master’s degree at Colorado after studying psychology and integrative physiology as an undergrad. Hoogkamer thought her running and psychology background could help Kipp design a “deception procedure” for his light versus heavy shoes conundrum.


The secrets to the success of Southampton’s thriving Academy

Sky Sports, Aidan Magee from November 25, 2016

… Their youth system played a major role in rebuilding the club following relegation from the Premier League in 2005 and their eventual fall down to League One. They returned to the top division under Nigel Adkins in 2012 after a seven-year absence.

Southampton pride themselves, according to the Academy section of their website, on developing “fine young men”, as well as top-level footballers who can flourish in the game.

“The classroom stuff was important because while it was a bit of a drag when you wanted to be out on the pitch playing, it gave those who didn’t make it all the way through something to fall back on,” says Reed, who came on as a substitute in last week’s goalless draw with Liverpool at St Mary’s.


How one MLB player is using Rapsodo pitch analysis technology to revive his career, Tom Taylor from November 29, 2016

This offseason, Craig Breslow is searching for an edge. The 36-year-old left-handed pitcher won the World Series with the Red Sox in 2013, but was put on the disabled list after straining his throwing shoulder the following March and never seemed to fully recover. His ERA jumped from 1.81 in 2013 to 5.96 the following year. Last season he was signed as a free agent and then released by both the Marlins and the Rangers. “I hadn’t been a successful pitcher for three years,” he says.

To attempt to resurrect his decade-long career in the major league, Breslow is turning to a pitch-tracking camera made by Rapsodo. The Yale-educated molecular biophysics and biochemistry major is hoping he can reverse engineer the best pitches in baseball by looking back at other players’ PITCHf/x and TrackMan data. Then by getting real-time feedback on each throw’s velocity, spin, and trajectory through Rapsodo, he plans to tune up his own throws.


How Computers Made Humans Better at Chess

Fortune, David Z. Morris from November 27, 2016

… Experts say that computerized insight has changed the game. In an interview with FiveThirtyEight, Deep Blue developer Murray Campbell says the depth of preparation allowed by computers may lead to more draws. That has certainly been borne out in this year’s tournament, which started with seven draws in a row. More draws, in a closed system like chess, means players are increasingly evenly matched.

That knife-edge play often involves insights gleaned from how computers approach the game. Carlsen, widely regarded as a giant on par with Kasparov, has downplayed the role of computers in his early training—but the influence of machines on his play is nonetheless often noted. He is known not just for his deep knowledge of board positions, but for his willingness to use supposedly computer-like “ugly” moves which defy conventional chess aesthetics and human intuition, but are more effective.


The GSK Human Performance Lab is to close the HPL website and Science Community at the end of 2016

Facebook, GSK Human Performance Lab from November 28, 2016

The GSK Human Performance Lab is to close the HPL website and Science Community at the end of 2016 in order to focus resources on driving innovation in human health and performance across the whole of GSK Consumer Healthcare.

The GSK HPL Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ pages will close on Friday 16th December.


[1611.08481] GuessWhat?! Visual object discovery through multi-modal dialogue

arXiv, Computer Science > Artificial Intelligence; Harm de Vries, Florian Strub, Sarath Chandar, Olivier Pietquin, Hugo Larochelle, Aaron Courville from November 23, 2016

We introduce GuessWhat?!, a two-player guessing game as a testbed for research on the interplay of computer vision and dialogue systems. The goal of the game is to locate an unknown object in a rich image scene by asking a sequence of questions. Higher-level image understanding, like spatial reasoning and language grounding, is required to solve the proposed task. Our key contribution is the collection of a large-scale dataset consisting of 150K human-played games with a total of 800K visual question-answer pairs on 66K images. We explain our design decisions in collecting the dataset and introduce the oracle and questioner tasks that are associated with the two players of the game. We prototyped deep learning models to establish initial baselines of the introduced tasks.


Watch a new skin sensor measure your health while you exercise

Science, ScienceShots from November 23, 2016

Ever use the expression “sweating buckets” after a tough workout? It doesn’t have much literal meaning, but if you ever looked for a way to quantify your perspiration, this new tech might interest you. Researchers have created a soft adhesive patch that can measure the composition of your sweat, they report today in Science Translational Medicine. You can scan the patch with your smartphone and an app will give you information about your electrolyte balance, dehydration levels, and total water loss. It works like this: As your pores release sweat, a ring-shaped channel fills up and diverts into four different sensors that absorb the moisture. Each sensor has a corresponding color—blue, yellow, orange, or red—and each one measures something different: chloride, glucose, pH, or lactate. The color becomes more vibrant based on the concentration of what it monitors. Measuring electrolyte loss can combat fatigue, and tracking chloride ions can indicate susceptibility for diseases like cystic fibrosis. With a little tweaking, the patch could even be used to test for doping at athletic events, the authors say.


Ethics of genetic testing and research in sport: a position statement from the Australian Institute of Sport — Vlahovich et al.

British Journal of Sports Medicine from November 29, 2016

As Australia’s peak high-performance sport agency, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has developed this position statement to address the implications of recent advances in the field of genetics and the ramifications for the health and well-being of athletes. Genetic testing has proven of value in the practice of clinical medicine. There are, however, currently no scientific grounds for the use of genetic testing for athletic performance improvement, sport selection or talent identification. Athletes and coaches should be discouraged from using direct-to-consumer genetic testing because of its lack of validation and replicability and the lack of involvement of a medical practitioner in the process. The transfer of genetic material or genetic modification of cells for performance enhancement is gene doping and should not be used on athletes. There are, however, valid roles for genetic research and the AIS supports genetic research which aims to enhance understanding of athlete susceptibility to injury or illness. Genetic research is only to be conducted after careful consideration of a range of ethical concerns which include the provision of adequate informed consent. The AIS is committed to providing leadership in delivering an ethical framework that protects the well-being of athletes and the integrity of sport, in the rapidly changing world of genomic science.


How college soccer helps the U.S. women’s national team win World Cups

Excelle Sports, Tim Nash from November 29, 2016

This weekend, women’s college soccer really showcases itself. After a month of NCAA tournament play and the conference championships, the sport culminates in the College Cup, which takes place in San Jose, Calif. on Friday and Sunday. For soccer fans, this is a time of non-stop soccer only briefly interrupted by turkey.

And for soccer fans, there’s a lot in the women’s college game to be thankful for.


Bruce Arena Outlines a New Vision for the U.S. Team

The New York Times, Sam Borden from November 29, 2016

In March 2015, Jurgen Klinsmann sat in a hotel conference room in Philadelphia and explained to reporters — in a presentation complete with a PowerPoint element — his vision for how the United States national team would crest toward the 2018 World Cup.

On Tuesday, sitting in a hotel conference room in New York, Bruce Arena — one week after replacing Klinsmann as the team’s coach — did the same.

The differences were considerable, and a particularly noticeable one was the importance of data and analytics to each coach. Klinsmann, during his presentation, spoke at length about how he wanted to increase the depth of advanced analysis done on potential players, and at his behest, U.S. Soccer, the national federation, added a data analysis arm to its operation.

Arena, who also coached the national team from 1998 to 2006, did not dismiss the notion of advanced analytics outright on Tuesday, but he did question their validity in soccer.


Matt Patricia, Belichick’s Rocket Scientist

The MMQB, Tim Rohan from November 29, 2016

How an aeronautical engineering grad from noted football hotbed Rensselaer Polytechnic became Bill Belichick’s right-hand man, entrusted to run the Patriots’ defense


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