Applied Sports Science newsletter – July 3, 2017

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for July 3, 2017


Giants’ Matt LaCosse credits new training regimen with offseason surge

Giants Wire, Kevin Hickey from

… Looking to come back stronger, LaCosse trained at TEST Sports Clubs in Martinsville, N.J., during the offseason, which helped him regain confidence in his knee.

“I think it completely changed the way I feel, the way I move and run. It’s a phenomenal facility,” LaCosse told Giants Wire. “Just coming off of my knee surgery from this year and coming back, I didn’t know how I was going to do in spring ball, but TEST just helped me get so much more confidence and so much more comfortable with my knee and my body and I was able to have a good spring ball because of how good I felt.”


From Georgetown to Nebraska to a cheese counter: Tim Adleman’s unlikely path to majors

The Washington Post, Dan Steinberg from

… Adleman wasn’t drafted after his junior season, and so he finished his degree in health care management. (Wilk has been at Georgetown for nearly 20 years and can’t remember another baseball player who studied in the school of nursing). He was taken by the Orioles in the 24th round of the 2010 draft, a lanky 6-foot-5 senior right-hander with modest velocity, an unremarkable breaking ball and no signing bonus. He made the all-star team while with short-season Class A Aberdeen, but before his second season, Baltimore’s organization wanted him to speed up his delivery to prevent stolen bases.

“And for whatever reason, it was just an adjustment that I couldn’t make on the fly,” Adleman said. His pitches stayed up too high in the zone, his numbers ballooned, he couldn’t bring them down, and by spring training of 2012 he had been released. He tried to catch on with the independent Florence (Ky.) Freedom, but struggled with atypical control issues during a simulated game. There went another chance.


Murray confirms his fitness for Wimbledon

Reuters from

… “I’ve had hip problems since I was very young,” said the Scot, who added that he had benefited from several days’ rest. “It’s not something new to me. It’s just been very sore the last few weeks.

“It was giving me quite a lot of trouble moving to certain shots and getting into certain positions.

“This is an extremely important tournament, so you worry a little bit. It’s a little bit stressful if you can’t practise for a few days.


Soccer Academy Reaches Across Border to Nurture Young Players

The New York Times, Vincent M. Malozzi from

On a stormy Saturday, a group of young boys wearing red soccer uniforms and cleats in a dizzying array of colors clip-clopped out of the rain and into an old warehouse, where wealthy residents of this historic community along Raritan Bay once stored their antique cars.

That space is now occupied by an unlikely tenant, and serving a very different clientele. Xolos Academy F.C. New Jersey, a soccer academy affiliated with the Mexican first-division team Club Tijuana, has transformed the warehouse into a synthetic-turf field of dreams, its walls covered with logos and action photos of a favorite son.

They coach soccer here now, but what the academy really offers is opportunity for the sons and daughters of Hispanic immigrants from the area. These are the kind of players who routinely fall through the cracks of American soccer, victims of financial hardships that sometimes prevent their talents from being properly nurtured, and exposed, in the pay-to-play culture that dominates youth soccer in the United States.


Face value: the science of first impressions

The Guardian, Hannah Devlin from

Roman statesman Marcus Cicero once called the face “a picture of the mind with the eyes as its interpreter.” In the centuries since, humanity’s obsession with the clues hidden in our faces has grown. Once the preserve of mystics, the human face has now come under the scrutiny of scientific examination. We are now closer to understanding how our minds process a seemingly infinite array of face types, and what – if anything – faces can tell us about the people behind them.

To explore all this and more, Hannah Devlin speaks with the California Institute of Technology’s Professor Doris Tsao, whose recent mind-reading study on primates challenged a long-held view of the way the brain processes faces. We also hear from Princeton University professor of psychology, Alex Todorov – author of Face Value: The Irresistible Influence of First Impressions – about the first impressions we all form based on the faces the we see. [audio, 34:40]


Does Prompting Students During Retrieval Practice Improve Performance?

The Learning Scientists, Megan Smith from

When we practice retrieval, or bring information to mind from our memories, we typically improve our memory for the information. Retrieval practice can be implemented in a lot of different ways, and we’ve talked about a number of them, for example short-answer or multiple-choice quizzes, writing out everything you know, using flashcards, creating concept maps from memory (see this post and this post), or drawing what you know from memory. Possibly one of the easiest ways to implement retrieval practice in the classroom is to ask students to put away their course materials and write out everything they can remember. (In the cognitive literature, this is called “free recall” because the students are recalling everything they can remember in any order they want, without explicit prompts.)

However, free recall without any prompts is very difficult. In my previous research, my colleagues and I have found that elementary students really struggle with the blank sheet of paper. But even for college students, free recall can be difficult, and students are not always able to remember to recall everything. Of course, perfect recall isn’t necessary for students to benefit from retrieval. However, my colleagues and I wanted to see if we could provide scaffolded prompts to help students better recall during retrieval practice (1). Our idea was that if we gave them prompts that helped them recall more during practice, they might perform better on the learning assessment one week later.


Deep-Learning Networks Rival Human Vision

Scientific American, Apurv Mishra from

For most of the past 30 years, computer vision technologies have struggled to help humans with visual tasks, even those as mundane as accurately recognizing faces in photographs. Recently, though, breakthroughs in deep learning, an emerging field of artificial intelligence, have finally enabled computers to interpret many kinds of images as successfully as, or better than, people do. Companies are already selling products that exploit the technology, which is likely to take over or assist in a wide range of tasks that people now perform, from driving trucks to reading scans for diagnosing medical disorders.

Recent progress in a deep-learning approach known as a convolutional neural network (CNN) is key to the latest strides. To give a simple example of its prowess, consider images of animals. Whereas humans can easily distinguish between a cat and a dog, CNNs allow machines to categorize specific breeds more successfully than people can. It excels because it is better able to learn, and draw inferences from, subtle, telling patterns in the images.


Coaching’s Generation Y2K

The MMQB, Robert Klemko from

There was once a small closet inside the old One Buc Place that Buccaneers management saw fit to make into an office, complete with a foreign object nobody quite knew what to do with in the mid-90’s: the coaching staff’s only computer. The hallways were so narrow in that wing of Tampa’s 1976 relic of a facility that if the coach across the hall left his door open just so, the man in the closet was trapped. Coaches were still viewing and showing film on beta tapes and drawing playbooks by hand, so they shoved the 24-year-old quality control coach in the smallest office in the building and let him tinker with the new tech.

Then the new millennium arrived, and magical things started taking shape in the closet. Young men who would later become head coaches and coordinators in the NFL lobbied their bosses to ditch the paper and pencil and embrace a host of computer programs that would make their jobs easier. As offensive quality control coach in 2004, Kyle Shanahan, then 25, converted Jon Gruden’s playbook into XOS, an early pioneer in football’s digital movement. When Nathaniel Hackett arrived in 2006 for his first NFL job—replacing Shanahan as offensive QC coach—he converted Gruden’s 17,000-play bible into Microsoft Visio.

Hackett had grown accustomed to introducing new technology to skeptical coaching staffs; in 2003 he arrived at Stanford, a school with one of the foremost computer science graduate programs in the world, expecting to be taught a thing or two about football tech. Instead, he found them still hand-drawing plays.


The 10,000-Step Myth: Here’s How You Should Be Tracking Your Fitness

Tom's Guide, Brian Eastwood from

On a recent vacation, Liz Dickinson, the founder of Mio Global, spent several hours a day riding a bicycle. For all this intense physical activity, the step counter she was wearing registered only a few hundred steps.

For Dickinson, the experience illustrated all too well that the 10,000-step-a-day goal — the default for corporate wellness programs and fitness recommendations — doesn’t mean much.

“There’s no scientific validation.” Dickinson said. “It’s very hard to do it every day, and there’s no mention of intensity, or difficulty level, or heart rate, or breathing, or anything that determines whether exercise is valuable to you from a cardiovascular perspective.”


The way we run protects our upper bodies but our legs suffer

New Scientist, Daily News, Nicole Wetsman from

Love a good run, but keep getting leg injuries? That could be because the way we run puts the brunt of jogging’s hard impact shocks on our lower limbs.

The average recreational runner usually clocks between 150 and 170 steps a minute. This means that in a light, half-hour run, your feet will strike the ground around 5000 times. “Every time your foot hits the ground, your body absorbs the impact,” says John Mercer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

To study how these vibrations affect our bodies, Delphine Chadefaux at Aix-Marseille University in France and her colleagues used high-speed cameras, leg sensors and force-sensing plates to follow motion, acceleration, muscle activity and the force of hitting the ground in 10 recreational runners. Each participant ran both barefoot and in shoes, and at two different speeds.


David Price Center in Brentwood uses stem cell, plasma treatments instead of surgery

The Tennessean, Elaina Sauber from

… stem cells and platelet-rich plasma are just part of the center’s three-pronged approach to treatment, CEO Jeff Ervin said.

What sets IMAC centers apart from other facilities, he said, is that they bring multiple professionals all under one roof to treat patients collaboratively.

What began in Paducah 17 years ago as a physical medicine center evolved over the years and created the basis for the five IMAC centers that have since opened in three states.

“We found that patient outcomes are much more successful by integrating physical medicine with medical practitioners themselves,” Ervin said.


All that I learned about sport injuries, I learned from comics

University of Calgary, UToday from

Comic book villains may be a source of inspiration when implementing and evaluating injury prevention strategies in youth sport and recreation. “Villains are excellent at understanding and using human nature in their schemes,” said Carly McKay, PhD, researcher from the University of Bath, U.K., presenting at the recent Research and Community Engagement (RACE) symposium.

McKay suggests taking lessons from health psychology and social marketing to influence positive behaviour changes in injury prevention. “Because let’s face it, research can be dry, so why not look to other fields to see how it can be implemented differently?”


​That EPO Study You’re Reading About May Not Tell The Full Story

Bicycling, Joe Lindsey and Selene Yeager from

After two decades of being told that the banned blood booster EPO has had a devastating effect on endurance sports, the world got some surprising news this week from a newly-published study, which contends that EPO does not actually improve real-world cycling performance.


Confed Cup: Germany’s victory over Chile is a lesson to the world, Luis Miguel Echegaray from

… Aside from technical superiority, Germany has always been a mentally strong team. No matter what happens throughout the match or how well the opposition starts, the focus and composure remains. This is not something that just happens by coincidence, it’s an attribute that can be seen from youth soccer to the under-21 team (which won the European Championship on Friday) and its considered a national priority in order to succeed.

On Sunday, Low knew that the best way to beat Chile was to make the South Americans think they were in control due to possession but this was only a facade, as Germany waited for Pizzi’s men to make their own mistakes…and then, pounce.


Research Shows When Groups Are Diverse, Individuals Are Less Likely to Go Along With the Crowd

Entrepreneur, Evan P. Apfelbaum and Sarah E. Gaither from

… Given the changing nature of the workplace, and with help from our colleagues, Hannah Birnbaum from the Kellogg School of Management and Laura Babbitt and Samuel Sommers from Tufts University, we recently set out to revisit Asch’s work with one important twist: We compared rates of conformity in all-white groups — the types of groups that Asch used — to racially diverse groups, which are more reflective of today’s demographics.

Across three studies that drew from different samples of participants, we found that white participants in racially diverse groups were significantly less likely to conform to a clearly inferior decision compared to white participants in all-white groups. That is, in diverse groups, white participants were less likely to follow suit as they witnessed their fellow group members converge on the wrong decision.


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