Applied Sports Science newsletter – June 27, 2017

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for June 27, 2017


Bronson Kaufusi Eager to Contribute After Missing Rookie Season

Baltimore Ravens from

Bronson Kaufusi couldn’t stop smiling when he stepped to the podium during last week’s minicamp.

The massive defensive end was just happy to be talking and playing football again. A broken ankle cost Kaufusi his entire rookie season, but the third-round pick is now completely healthy and competing for a starting job on Baltimore’s defense.

“I love this game. I love everything about it, being with my teammates, all of that,” Kaufusi said. “I cannot wait to get out there; I can’t tell you. It’s that constant fire in me that’s burning always.”


No Frills, No Crowds, No Money: The Lonely Road to Tennis Glory

The New York Times, David Waldstein from

Less than a half-hour after a crushing defeat in front of two spectators, Aleksandra Wozniak paced the hallways of the municipal tennis center in Dothan, Ala., pleading on the phone with an airline representative.

Wozniak, a former top-25 player, had hoped to stay longer at the small tournament, but the loss forced her to immediately arrange a cheap 6 a.m. connection back home to Montreal. Once there, she would prepare anew for the next small tournament a week later in Charlottesville, Va., another lonely stop on a punishing minor league tennis tour.

In Dothan and Charlottesville, Wozniak, 29, competed alongside a special stratum of players struggling to claw their way out of tennis’s underappreciated lower rungs. Among those players is Fanny Stollar, a statuesque, 18-year-old Hungarian with hopes of joining the sport’s elite.

Stollar and Wozniak are at distinct stages in their careers. One is a rising prospect, the other a veteran making a comeback. But their goal — to play regularly on the WTA Tour — is the same, and for now they share a platform on the International Tennis Federation Pro Circuit, the junior varsity of professional tennis, where purses are too small to earn a living.


André Silva: an insight on the new AC Milan’s striker

Wyscout, The football blog from

In this intense start to the summer transfer market, Milan has signed the second most expensive player in its history. The signing of André Silva, a striker born in 1995, acquired for €38 million including the bonuses paid to Porto.

A significant amount, especially if you consider that we are talking about a player who was moved up to first team just a year and a half ago, a period during which he played in a total of 58 matches, scoring 24 goals and earning a spot on the Portuguese national team, where he scored 7 goals in the first 9 matches. What type of player are we talking about?


The Balance of Power in the Hips

Breaking Muscle, Jennifer Pilotti from

The hip joint is impressive looking. With 21 muscles that provide stability, keep the femur in the pelvis, and allow for an incredible range of movements, it’s a unique part of our anatomy.

The joint itself is located towards the front of the pelvis. If you find the two front hip bones and trace a line down to your hip crease, you will be close to the actual joint. If you stand up and place your hand there, when you move the thigh, you should feel movement under your hand. This is where the head of the femur, the long upper leg bone, is cupped neatly by the pelvis.

The muscles on the outside of your hip (which is often where people gesture when they are discussing the hip) are heavily involved in movement of the femur, allowing the upper leg to swing backward, out to the side, and in and out. More muscles are located in the front that move the leg forward and up, and still, others are located on the inside of the leg, bringing it in and allowing it to rotate.


Meet The Freshmen: UConn Women’s Incoming Class Getting Acclimated To Husky Way

Hartford Courant, Paul Doyle from

… The incoming freshmen arrived in Storrs late last month and have been taking classes while working out with their new teammates. It’s an ongoing process as they learn the demands of the program, but there is a constant

They have each other.

“These girls are like my sisters,” Espinoza-Hunter said. “I’ve only been with them for four and half weeks, and I already consider them my sisters.”

Here’s the thing: The Fantastic Four have been bonding for months through the magic of technology.


Something Special Happening for English Football Don’t get too carried just yet, but the signs are positive. – The fruits of the FA’s DNA Project are starting to emerge

Matt Whitehouse, The Whitehouse Address blog from

The FA had just never seem to get it right. Golden generations, penalty shoot-out defeats and that feeling that for all the talent and promise our players showed, they just couldn’t deliver in the big tournaments. In recent years we’ve seen the disappointment of our senior team fail miserably at both the 2010 and 2014 World Cup’s, as well as grind their way to a ‘honourable’ exit to Italy in the quarter finals of the 2012 Euro’s. We’ve seen the Under 21’s get knocked out in the group stage of the European Championships in each of the past three competitions. It hasn’t been a good time for English football. But this appears to be changing.


Ryland Morgans interview: How Crystal Palace training changes helped Premier League survival

Sky Sports, Peter Smith from

… With just four wins to their name, the Eagles were stuck in the relegation zone when new boss Allardyce made Morgans his Performance Director at the end of January.

Fast forward four months and Palace had been propelled to safety and a 14th-place finish. They won eight out of their final 16 games, including victories over some of the Premier League’s top teams, while Andros Townsend publicly praised Morgans’ impact.

But how did Palace pull it off? Sky Sports spoke to Morgans to find out…


Optimising load to optimise outcomes

British Journal of Sports Medicine, Philip Glasgow from

Optimising our loading

The human body is attuned to respond to various forms of mechanical loading and that this is perhaps the primary tool in the repertoire of sports medicine professionals. If exercise is the intervention of choice for a range of conditions, we must appreciate the mechanisms that underpin adaptation so we can refine our prescription and better benefit patients. The current issue of BJSM highlights a range of strategies that can be used to better monitor, manipulate and apply load in a range of contexts.


MIT and Google researchers have made AI that can link sound, sight, and text to understand the world

Quartz, Dave Gershgorn from

If we ever want future robots to do our bidding, they’ll have to understand the world around them in a complete way—if a robot hears a barking noise, what’s making it? What does a dog look like, and what do dogs need?

AI research has typically treated the ability to recognize images, identify noises, and understand text as three different problems, and built algorithms suited to each individual task. Imagine if you could only use one sense at a time, and couldn’t match anything you heard to anything you saw. That’s AI today, and part of the reason why we’re so far from creating an algorithm that can learn like a human. But two new papers from MIT and Google explain first steps for making AI see, hear, and read in a holistic way—an approach that could upend how we teach our machines about the world.

“It doesn’t matter if you see a car or hear an engine, you instantly recognize the same concept. The information in our brain is aligned naturally,” says Yusuf Aytar, a post-doctoral AI research at MIT who co-authored the paper.


A succinct, excellent summary of the wearable medical sensor landscape

Twitter, Eric Topol from


We Still Don’t Have Any Idea How Much Quarterbacks Are Worth

The Ringer, Kevin Clark from

Do not try to understand NFL quarterback salaries. There is no pattern. Once the quarterback passes a baseline of competence, merit goes out the door. Comparing numbers between, say, Aaron Rodgers and Ryan Tannehill is a dangerous exercise. You know the Joker? He studied quarterback salaries before he decided to paint his face and ransack a city. If you stare into the abyss of NFL quarterback contracts, the abyss stares back. And then the abyss tells you there are a handful of countries with a lower GDP than Sam Bradford’s career cash earnings.

Quarterback salaries are in an upward freefall, and despite being the most important position in the sport by a longshot, we still don’t know the true worth of signal-callers. There’s no max salary in the NFL, but the best players at the position almost never hit free agency, so a true market never gets set and Rodgers ends up being the seventh-highest paid quarterback in the league. Despite, you know, being Aaron Rodgers.

We’re trying to understand quarterback money once again after Derek Carr signed the biggest deal in history on Thursday: a five-year contract paying the Raiders star $25 million a year. At first blush, that may seem like a lot. Except, it’s not. Whatever the value of a franchise quarterback, it’s a hell of a lot higher than $25 million.


Five building blocks of a data-driven culture

TechCrunch, Carl Anderson and Michael Li from

… To be data-driven requires an overarching data culture that couples a number of elements, including high-quality data, broad access and data literacy and appropriate data-driven decision-making processes. In this article, we discuss some of the key building blocks.

Single source of truth

A single source of truth is a central, controlled and “blessed” source of data from which the whole company can draw. It is the master data. When you don’t have such data and staff can pull down seemingly the same metrics from different systems, inevitably those systems will produce different numbers. Then the arguments ensue. You get into a he-said-she-said scenario, each player drawing and defending their position with their version of the “truth.” Or (and more pernicious), some teams may unknowingly use stale, low-quality or otherwise incorrect data or metrics and make bad decisions, when they could have used a better source.


Successful Data Analytics Starts With Building Right Team

Bloomberg BNA, Genevieve Douglas from

… A successful data analytics team often includes a data wrangler, a developer, a business analyst, a statistician, a “visualizer,” and a communicator, Ares said. There doesn’t have to be one employee per role, but all roles are essential to a successful team. “They are very different functions,” he added.

According to Ares, the goal is to have enough expertise to accomplish:

  • Data management and security: The data specialist will be focused on understanding the different source systems and how to extract data from them. Applying these skills requires extensive knowledge of the organization’s internal systems and how the data is stored, he said.
  • Statistics and data analytics: Everyone on the team “really should have some numbers sense,” Ares advised. While there may be team members who are much more advanced than others in this sphere, this will be key to being successful, he said.
  • Design and visualization: Not all analytics outputs need to show “complex” graphs and visuals, but having this resource will make the communication around the data and findings easier to disseminate, Ares said.
  • Communication: Analytics teams need a team member with good communication skills and “a gift for storytelling,” according to Ares. This team member’s main goal is to bridge the gap between the needs of the business and the data that is available, he said.

    Purdue basketball among Big Ten programs investing more in analytics

    Journal & Courier, Nathan Baird from

    After a lifetime spent in gyms, on playgrounds and in intense backyard family games, Purdue forward Vincent Edwards knows where on a basketball court he can thrive.

    However, the senior-to-be isn’t relying only on feel. Edwards says advanced metrics provided by the Boilermaker coaching staff have enlightened him to needed areas of improvement.

    Edwards already assumed he needed to work on his mid-range game. The numbers proved it.

    “You know as a player you should know what your hot spots are and your weaknesses and everything,” Edwards said. “But when they actually bring you that chart, you can actually gauge your spots.


    Soccer’s Confounding Calculation: What’s a Player Worth?

    The New York Times, Rory Smith from

    For the better part of a decade, at least one leading Premier League team has devoted thousands of hours and kilowatts of brain power to answering what sounds, on the surface, like a simple question: How do you judge what any one player is actually worth?

    Every conceivable variable is taken into account, the tangible and the intangible, the objective and the subjective. In addition to thousands of data points breaking down each player’s performance and output, factors like his age, position, nationality, length of contract and commercial value are fed into the equation. So, too, are the buying power of the player’s current club, and the cost of his peers and, adjusting for inflation, his predecessors.

    The model is always being refined, but still, the club feels that it is as robust a valuation system as exists in soccer. It does not calculate a precise figure. Instead, it provides a guideline as to what might be a reasonable fee for any target the manager chooses to pursue, a general idea of that player’s actual economic value.


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