Applied Sports Science newsletter – February 28, 2017

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for February 28, 2017


Bryce Harper says, ‘I don’t look ahead.’ That seems like good advice.

The Washington Post, Barry Svrluga from

… “I get it,” Harper said Thursday, sitting at a table on a patio outside the Nats’ cafeteria here, workout behind him, season still ahead. He ticked off the names in that epic free agent class: Manny Machado and Matt Harvey, not to mention Josh Donaldson and Andrew McCutchen and potentially Clayton Kershaw, with Mike Trout to follow a year later.

“It’s so many guys people see develop, and develop with one team, and it’s like, ‘Man, where’s he going?’ ” Harper said. “ ‘Where’s that guy going? Can they both go there? Could they both go here? Does he want to stay there?’

“It’s part of the process. For me — and I’ve always said this, and I’m so true to this — I don’t look ahead. I can’t. It’s not fair to myself. I’ve really got to sit down and look at right now. That’s two years down the road. I have two whole seasons to worry about. I have to take care of those two seasons. That’s what’s important.”


For Mets’ Infield, Chiropractor May Be the Most Important Position

The New York Times, James Wagner from

There are many ways to describe the Mets’ projected starting infield of David Wright, Asdrubal Cabrera, Neil Walker and Lucas Duda. But two weeks ago, as Mets Manager Terry Collins discussed how he would handle their playing time, he provided a telling answer while rattling off the positions.

“We’ve got a bad back, bad back, bad knee and a bad back,” Collins said, referring to Wright, Walker, Cabrera and Duda.

The 2017 Mets, for all of their potential and talent, cannot ignore a significant question mark: health. Aside from the arm-related injuries of the pitching staff, the condition of the spines of three key infielders will hover over the team all season.


LeBron James is playing an astounding number of minutes

Nylon Calculus blog, Bo Schwartz Madsen from

On Jan. 30, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost in an uninspired game against the Dallas Mavericks. LeBron James played slightly more than 37 minutes and in doing so he passed Michael Jordan in all-time minutes played. LeBron is now 21st among all players in total minutes played and he will likely pass the four ahead of him: Moses Malone, Scottie Pippen, Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O’Neal, before this season is over.

Incredibly, in his 14th NBA season, LeBron is second in the league in minutes played per game. Of course, he appears as indestructible as usual, but this is still a shocking workload for a player this deep into their career.


Jackie Bradley Jr. is the new archetype for exercising patience with prospects

SB Nation, Beyond the Box Score blog, Joe Clarkin from

… While Bradley’s 2013 debut was a small-sample disaster, that caveat allowed people to remain optimistic heading into 2014. Yet despite some truly stellar defense that season, Bradley quickly became a pariah because of his complete inability to hit. It was quite possibly the worst offensive season we’d seen in a generation, but despite that — and the fact that Bradley’s confidence was clearly in the tank — the Red Sox continued to keep running him out there because the glove was so good.

There was legitimate reason to believe the Red Sox were doing long-term damage to Bradley just so he could save a few extra runs for a last-place team on balls hit to center field. He was ultimately demoted to Triple A that August, long after he probably should have been sent down to sort out whatever was ailing him at the plate.

But to his credit, it was not too late, and he did figure it out — probably sooner than anyone had reason to expect.


Relative Age, Maturation and Physical Biases on Position Allocation in Elite-Youth Soccer

International Journal of Sports Medicine from

This study assessed the contribution of relative age, anthropometry, maturation, and physical fitness characteristics on soccer playing position (goalkeeper [GK], central-defender [CD], lateral-defender [LD], central-midfield [CM], lateral-midfielder [LM], and forward [FWD]) for 465 elite-youth players (U13–U18’s). U13–14 CD were relatively older than LD and CM (likely small effects). CD and GK were generally taller and heavier (likely small to very-likely moderate effects) than other players at each developmental stage and were advanced maturers at U13–14 (very-likely small to likely moderate effects). GK had inferior agility (very-likely small to likely moderate effects), endurance (very-likely small to likely moderate effects), and sprint capacities (likely small-moderate effects) vs. outfield positions at U13–14, but deficits in anaerobic phenotypes were diminished in U15–16 and U17–18. Position specific fitness characteristics were distinguished at U15–16 (likely small) and U17–18 (likely moderate), where LM were faster than their central counterparts. In summary, relative age, maturation and anthropometric characteristics appear to bias the allocation of players into key defensive roles from an early development stage, whereas position-specific physical attributes do not become apparent until the latter stages of talent development in outfield players. Given the inter-individual trajectories of physical development according to biological maturation, playing position allocation might be considered ‘plastic’ by selectors, until complete-maturity is achieved.


Women Do Like to Compete — Against Themselves

The New York Times, Coren Apicella and Johanna Mollerstrom from

About 10 years ago, when we were both Ph.D. students at Harvard, we were invited to participate in an unofficial and largely secret wrestling tournament organized by a fellow student. The idea was to showcase a handful of competitive wrestling matches between graduate students in different departments to an invitation-only audience. Space and gym mats were rented, a referee and a master of ceremonies were appointed, and monetary bets were placed on individual matches. Each wrestler had his or her own costume, entrance song and fan base. Alcohol flowed freely among the spectators.

Neither of us remembers why we agreed to participate — we had never wrestled anyone before — but somehow we ended up there that night, and because of our similar height and weight we were paired to fight each other. One of us wore a sparkly gold leotard, and the other made her entrance to the “Rocky” theme song.

We were only acquaintances back then, and would have never guessed that all these years later, we would be professors collaborating on research about competitiveness in women. A recent study of ours, which will be published in May in the Papers and Proceedings issue of the American Economic Review, found that there are certain situations in which women can be just as competitive as men. This finding, we hope, will help alter some longstanding assumptions about women in the workplace.


Sky Christopherson on data, not drugs – ApplySci @ Stanford

YouTube, ApplySci from

Olympic Cyclist Sky Christopherson at ApplySci’s Digital Health + Neurotech Silicon Valley conference. February 8, 2017 – Stanford University


Changing an athlete’s behaviour: what can we learn from sport psychology?

Graeme Close, Close Nutrition blog from

If you had said to me a few years ago I would be writing a blog about behaviour change I would have said “behave yourself”. After all, I am a scientist (well a former rugby player trying my best to be a scientist) and we don’t get involved in that soft world of sport psychology. However, over the last few years working in professional sport I have quickly begun to realise that 90% of my job is exactly this. Yes, it is essential that we have the fundamental knowledge to underpin our advice (and lots of practitioners fail here as they have not gone through the necessary training) but the difference in my world between success and failure is often the ability to convince athletes to follow you on their diet change journey. And this is where many practitioners fail, for some reason they are unable to engage their client, fail to build the necessary relationships and therefore no matter how good the advice is, in reality there is little change.

I am by no means an expert in behaviour change and to an extent I’m very uncomfortable writing this. I have however been very fortunate to work alongside some excellent sport psychologists, such as Bill Beswick (formally RFU), Jeremy Snape (current RFU), Mark Nesti (LJMU) and Martin Littlewood (Everton FC and LJMU). In fact, I have recently become so convinced that this is crucial to sport nutrition consultancy that I invited Jeremy to give a guest lecture on our MSc program specifically on behaviour change. I am even thinking that in the future I may need to include an entire module on behaviour change in the sport nutrition MSc.


Hormonal responses during two different concurrent-training trials in youth elite soccer players: does changing the organisation of training impact the hormonal response to concurrent exercise?

Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness from


There are no data describing the acute hormonal responses to concurrent- training programmes in youth elite soccer players. Therefore, the aim of this study was to describe the total testosterone (T), cortisol (C), and growth hormone (hGH) responses during two same-day concurrent-training (CT) trials in elite soccer players.

n=13 youth elite players (age: 17.0±0.2 yrs; height, 1.80±0.07 m; body mass, 73.1±5.7 kg; VO2 max, 64.4± from an English premier league soccer club completed two CT trials. ‘Trial 1’ (CT1); E (10.30h) followed by S (14.00h) and Trial 2 (CT2); strength-training (S) 09.00h followed by a soccer-specific endurance-training session (E) at 10.30h. Venous blood samples were collected at 5 time-points around training and food intake (T1; 08.00h, T2; 09.45h, T3; 12.30h, T4; 13.45h and T5; 15.15h) and analysed for T (nmol/L) and C (nmol/L) and hGH (ug/L).

There was no main effects found between exercise conditions for any hormones (T; P=0.22, C; P=0.07, hGH; P=0.21). Effect size analysis revealed a moderate effect for T at T3 (ES=0.63, CT1; 18.4±3.8, CT2; 15.7±4.7 nmol/L-1). A moderate effect for T area under the curve (AUC) was observed between conditions (CT1; 300±76 versus CT2; 244 ± 81 [AU]; ES=0.71). A moderate effect was apparent for C concentrations T4 in (ES=-0.95, CT1; 230±69, CT2; 314±105 nmol/L-1). Moderate effect sizes were observed at T3 and T4 (ES=0.82, CT1; 1.28±1.17, CT2; 0.47±0.75, ES=0.72, CT1; 0.11±0.05, CT2; 0.07±0.06 ug/L-1 respectively). A moderate effect for hGH AUC was observed between trials (CT1; 14±11 versus CT2; 5±9; [AU], ES=-1.08).

The organisation of the concurrent-training protocols used in this study has a negligible impact upon the acute T, C and hGH in youth elite soccer players.


Team sport athletes’ perceptions and use of recovery strategies: a mixed-methods survey study

BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation from


A variety of recovery strategies are used by athletes, although there is currently no research that investigates perceptions and usage of recovery by different competition levels of team sport athletes.

The recovery techniques used by team sport athletes of different competition levels was investigated by survey. Specifically this study investigated if, when, why and how the following recovery strategies were used: active land-based recovery (ALB), active water-based recovery (AWB), stretching (STR), cold water immersion (CWI) and contrast water therapy (CWT).

Three hundred and thirty-one athletes were surveyed. Fifty-seven percent were found to utilise one or more recovery strategies. Stretching was rated the most effective recovery strategy (4.4/5) with ALB considered the least effective by its users (3.6/5). The water immersion strategies were considered effective/ineffective mainly due to psychological reasons; in contrast STR and ALB were considered to be effective/ineffective mainly due to physical reasons.

This study demonstrates that athletes may not be aware of the specific effects that a recovery strategy has upon their physical recovery and thus athlete and coach recovery education is encouraged. This study also provides new information on the prevalence of different recovery strategies and contextual information that may be useful to inform best practice among coaches and athletes.
[full text]


#Trending: Modular smartwatches could breathe new life into wearable tech

Wareable (UK), Michael Sawh from

… What do we exactly mean by modular?

In tech and design terms, modular is essentially a approach where modules are used to form the building blocks of a product.

Who’s making modular smartwatches then?

Speaking of blocks, there’s one name that instantly springs to mind and that’s Blocks. The crowdfunding project raised over $1.6 million to help bring to life the iOS and Android-friendly smartwatch. Blocks allows you to swap in a host of different modules that can add features to the watch like GPS, an optical heart rate monitor or NFC for contactless payments.


Sources: MLB seeking new ball with stickier cover so it can enforce foreign-substance rule

Yahoo Sports, Jeff Passan from

… MLB has commissioned Rawlings, its official manufacturer, to produce a ball with natural tack on the leather in hopes of eliminating the need for pine tar, sunscreen and rosin, or any other foreign substances whose use in recent years has blurred the legal-illegal line, sources familiar with the project told Yahoo Sports. The balls also would not need a pregame polish of Lena Blackburne Rubbing Mud, the New Jersey-harvested muck that for decades has taken the sheen off the pearls that come out of the box.

“We think we’re close now,” Mike Thompson, an executive vice president at Rawlings, told Yahoo Sports. “We’re just waiting for MLB to give us the go-ahead on when they want it.”


Eighty-three per cent of elite athletes return to preinjury sport after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction: a systematic review with meta-analysis of return to sport rates, graft rupture rates and performance outcomes.

British Journal of Sports Medicine from


The primary objective was to calculate the rate of return to sport (RTS) following anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction in elite athletes. Secondary objectives were to estimate the time taken to RTS, calculate rates of ACL graft rupture, evaluate postsurgical athletic performance and identify determinants of RTS.

Pooled RTS and graft rupture rates were calculated using random effects proportion meta-analysis. Time to RTS, performance data and determinants of RTS were synthesised descriptively.

MEDLINE, EMBASE, AMED, CINAHL, AMI, PEDro, SPORTDiscus and The Cochrane Library were searched from inception to 19 January 2016. Hand searching of 10 sports medicine journals and reference checking were also performed.

Studies were included if they reported the ratio of elite athletes who returned to their preinjury level of sport following ACL reconstruction. Twenty-four studies were included.

The pooled RTS rate was 83% (95% CI 77% to 88%). The mean time to RTS ranged from 6 to 13 months. The pooled graft rupture rate was 5.2% (95% CI 2.8% to 8.3%). Six out of nine studies that included a noninjured control group found no significant deterioration in athletic performance following ACL reconstruction. Indicators of greater athletic skill or value to the team were associated with RTS.

Eighty-three per cent of elite athletes returned to sport following ACL reconstruction, while 5.2% sustained a graft rupture. Most athletes who returned to sport performed comparably with matched, uninjured controls. This information may assist in guiding expectations of athletes and clinicians following ACL reconstruction. [full text]


Behind MLB chemistry: How teams try to sniff out ‘bad guys’

New York Post, Ken Davidoff from

… “I do believe that — especially if you’re in a large market and you bring aboard someone that is a massive problem, that has a lot of issues — those issues become everybody’s issues, and they do drain on you,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said. “They drain on the collective over the course of spring training and the 162-game regular season. Your teammates’ problems become your problems, which becomes an issue, a distraction and a fatigue factor that’s going to come with it.

“I do think that prevents you from being the best you overall can be. I believe in that. Whereas 20 years ago, you can bring anybody in and survive that. Now I don’t think it’s as easy — with social media, TMZ and stuff like that. Because you’re too busy instead of talking about the game and the results and the competition, you’re too busy talking about something that’s going on off the field or not game-related constantly. It’s a pain. It’s a problem.”


Which spring training stats actually matter?

ESPN, SweetSpot blog, Dave Schoenfield from

… The official spring training slate will kick off Friday with five games — four in Florida, one in Arizona — after a few preliminary games between major league squads and college teams have been played. We’ll pay at least cursory attention because there will be, after all, box scores and highlights. And we have to see if Matt Kemp has really lost 30 pounds, if Matt Harvey is healthy and pumping his fastball and if Yoan Moncada is striking out too often.

The question lingers: Should we be paying attention, beyond the spectacle of exhibition baseball in great weather and $45 souvenir T-shirts?


NFL draft: How combine stars can become NFL duds

ESPN NFL, Katherine Terrell from

The NFL scouting combine begins Monday, and, every year, the league is abuzz with talk of its next big stars, fueled by eye-popping combine numbers by players who seem destined for greatness.

But every year, those combine stars rekindle memories of players who didn’t live up to the hype once they made NFL rosters.

Combine stars to NFL busts. Does that sound too harsh? Tony Mandarich doesn’t think so, at least not in his case, and he’s usually at or near the top of every list of players who failed to parlay combine success into NFL glory.

“I’ve been asked … were you a bust in Green Bay? Hell, yes, I was a bust in Green Bay, and none of it was Green Bay’s fault,” Mandarich told last week. “It was all my fault, and I blamed everybody but me.”


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