Applied Sports Science newsletter – June 10, 2019

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for June 10, 2019


The French Connection: Why Lindsey Horan’s Past Represents the USWNT’s Future

The Ringer, Andrew Helms from

… Though veteran players like Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe have greater name recognition, Horan will be the national team’s anchor in France, the midfielder who makes the supercharged American attack flow. Many analysts have called her the team’s most important player, which is a roundabout way of stating that she just may be the team’s best player. And at 25, she’s still getting better.

But what makes her so good isn’t just her technical skill, tactical savvy, or strength. It’s the mind-set that she’s acquired on her journey from Denver to Paris and back again. Over those seven years, she’s come to believe that her success is a process and not an outcome, the byproduct of the choices she has made and—just as crucially—the choices she did not make. And more broadly, Horan’s unique path to the World Cup may foretell significant changes for the future of women’s professional soccer. “I actually said this to her, that ‘You sacrificed a lot to get to this point, and I’m delighted to inform you that it is paying off, and that you’re here,’” says Ellis of her congratulatory call with Horan. “‘But we still have more to do.’”


Eagles making a big bet on Carson Wentz — and it’s the right one

ESPN NFL, Tim McManus from

Signing quarterback Carson Wentz to a four-year extension was the right move for the Philadelphia Eagles, even if it comes with significant risk.

That risk, of course, is linked to Wentz’s health. He has suffered season-ending injuries in each of the past two seasons. He tore the ACL and LCL in his left knee during the 2017 season and was shut down this past December after a stress fracture was detected in his back. He broke his wrist in college, broke his ribs during the preseason his rookie year and had a separate stress fracture in his back during his adolescence that was discovered his freshman year at North Dakota State.

It’s hard not to think about that injury history when weighing the merits of signing Wentz, 26, to an extension through 2024 that’s worth $128 million and includes $107 million in guarantees, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.


Who is Kawhi Leonard?

ESPN NBA, Tim Bontemps from

… “After the first morning, this kid was always at the front of the line,” [Fran] Fraschilla said. “He never said anything in the drills, but he was a ferocious competitor. When I asked about him, they said he was a local kid from the Inland Empire [a region that begins about 40 miles east of downtown Los Angeles], and we wanted to give him a chance.

“He competed the entire three days and didn’t say a word. I don’t remember a conversation with him. … I don’t even remember what his voice was at the time.”

More than a decade later, the question remains: Who is Kawhi Leonard?


Baseball Pitchers’ Perceived Effort Does Not Match Actual Measured Effort During a Structured Long-Toss Throwing Program. – PubMed – NCBI

American Journal of Sports Medicine from


During rehabilitation throwing programs, baseball players are commonly asked to throw at reduced levels of effort (ie, 50% effort, 75% effort, etc) to moderate stress to healing tissues. It is currently unknown how changes in players’ perceived exertion compares with changes in actual exertion during structured long-toss programs.

To determine whether decreased effort correlates with decreased throwing metrics, whether metrics decrease proportionally with reductions in perceived effort, and to quantify intrathrower variability.

Descriptive laboratory study.

Sixty male high school and collegiate baseball pitchers participated in a structured throwing program. A motusBASEBALL sleeve was worn by all players, which measured elbow varus torque, arm velocity, arm slot, and shoulder rotation. Ball velocity was measured with a radar gun. Each pitcher threw 5 throws a distance of 120 ft with 3 efforts: maximum effort, 75% effort, and 50% effort. Throwing metrics were compared among the 3 levels of effort to see if each 25% decrease resulted in proportional decreases in elbow varus torque and ball velocity. Intrathrower variability was determined for each throwing metric at each degree of effort.

All throwing metrics decreased as players decreased their perceived effort ( P < .001). However, these observed decreases were much smaller in magnitude than the decreases in perceived effort. During the 75% effort throws, elbow varus torque was only reduced to 93% of maximum and velocity dropped to 86% of maximum. Similarly, for the 50% effort throws, elbow varus torque remained 87% of max effort torque, while velocity remained 78% of max. Intrathrower reliability was considered excellent for most metrics (intraclass correlation coefficient, >0.75).

For every 25% decrease in perceived effort, elbow varus torque only decreased 7% and velocity only decreased 11%. Thus, when players throw at what they perceive to be reduced effort, their actual throwing metrics do not decrease at the same rate as their perceived exertion.

Measured effort decreased with decreasing perceived effort, but these were not proportional. This has significant implications for physical therapists, physicians, trainers, coaches, and athletes to understand and monitor elbow stress during the rehabilitation process.


Longevity in MLS

US Soccer Players, Clemente Lisi from

… In an age of heart-rate monitors and GPS trackers, the health and conditioning of players is closely monitored. The area of sports science has come a long way in the past decade alone. It has allowed MLS teams to employ sports physicians and fitness trainers capable of extending careers. During the winter, players focus on physical fitness in the weight room with an emphasis on endurance, stamina, and diet. During the season, they supplement that with regular training sessions and playing games.

The league does have a number of players who appear unaffected by age. Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard is the oldest at age 40. Howard has already announced that he will retire at the end of this season. The former USMNT star is followed by fellow shot-stopper Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake at 39 years and 11 months, who is also calling it a career at the end of 2019. LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic at 37 years, and seven months. Rounding out the top five are RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman and Houston Dynamo defender DaMarcus Beasley at age 37. Beasley, too, recently announced that this would be his last season.

Another thing these five players have in common? All spent time, either at club or National Team level, with trainer Pierre Barrieu.


Load vs Capacity and Injuries

Vimeo, RunningReform from

Most injuries come down to a simple equation of the mechanical load exceeding the capacity of the tissue. If the load is much higher than the capacity, there is a higher risk of injury. If you protect too much, the load goes way down and the body adapts by reducing the capacity. Ideally, we would want to keep a consistent load on the body in order to maintain a higher capacity. Patellar maltracking, leg length differences, glutes not activating are well intentioned, but play little, if any role in pain and injury, but they do make people feel bad about themselves. This video attempts to explain the idea of Load vs Capacity. [video, 4:30]


[1906.00926] Human information processing in complex networks

arXiv, Physics > Physics and Society; Christopher W. Lynn, Lia Papadopoulos, Ari E. Kahn, Danielle S. Bassett from

Humans communicate using systems of interconnected stimuli or concepts — from language and music to literature and science — yet it remains unclear how, if at all, the structure of these networks supports the communication of information. Although information theory provides tools to quantify the information produced by a system, traditional metrics do not account for the inefficient and biased ways that humans process this information. Here we develop an analytical framework to study the information generated by a system as perceived by a human observer. We demonstrate experimentally that this perceived information depends critically on a system’s network topology. Applying our framework to several real networks, we find that they communicate a large amount of information (having high entropy) and do so efficiently (maintaining low divergence from human expectations). Moreover, we show that such efficient communication arises in networks that are simultaneously heterogeneous, with high-degree hubs, and clustered, with tightly-connected modules — the two defining features of hierarchical organization. Together, these results suggest that many real networks are constrained by the pressures of information transmission, and that these pressures select for specific structural features.


It’s a fact that the #USWNT has one of the best STEM minds and sports scientists around in @DawnScott06.

Twitter, U.S. Soccer from

There are so many ways a woman in STEM can make an impact, and @IfThenSheCan is working hard to support the next generation of game changers. [video, 2:14]


Should children wear fitness trackers?

TechRadar, Becca Caddy from

… Once considered quite niche, since Fitbit released the Ace children’s wearables have become more and more popular. Although there are no official figures on activity tracker sales for kids,

Gartner predicts wearable device sales will grow 26 percent in 2019 and acknowledges children’s devices are now a key segment of the market.

But why would your child need a fitness tracker?


The Wearable That Monitors Your Health During A Workout

adigaskell, The Horizons Tracker from

Wearable fitness devices have become capable of achieving ever greater feats in recent years, but one of the more interesting comes via a stretchy patch that was recently developed by a team from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, which is capable of analyzing our sweat as we exercise.

The work, which was documented in a recently published paper, scours our sweat for a range of organic molecules, such as glucose and lactic acid, which are reliable markers for a range of health indicators. The patch sits on the skin and directs our sweat towards electrodes that are coated in enzymes. These enzymes allow the sensors to then electrically detect low concentrations of various compounds.


5 Key Benefits of Collagen Supplements

Marc Pro from

What’s the most abundant protein found in the body? It’s collagen! Our bones, muscles, skin, and tendons are built from this protein. When we don’t have enough collagen running through our system, the structures can become weak and break down. Since collagen production declines with age, it’s important to find ways to increase our levels to keep our bodies healthy and functioning efficiently. Collagen supplements can have a ton of benefits for everyone, but especially athletes or people who are active.

1. Increase Muscle Mass


Dietary Protein Quantity, Quality, and Exercise Are Key to Healthy Living: A Muscle-Centric Perspective Across the Lifespan

Frontiers in Nutrition journal from

A healthy eating pattern, regardless of age, should consist of ingesting high quality protein preferably in adequate amounts across all meals throughout the day. Of particular relevance to overall health is the growth, development, and maintenance of skeletal muscle tissue. Skeletal muscle not only contributes to physical strength and performance, but also contributes to efficient macronutrient utilization and storage. Achieving an optimal amount of muscle mass begins early in life with transitions to “steady-state” maintenance as an adult, and then safeguarding against ultimate decline of muscle mass with age, all of which are influenced by physical activity and dietary (e.g., protein) factors. Current protein recommendations, as defined by recommended dietary allowances (RDA) for the US population or the population reference intakes (PRI) in Europe, are set to cover basic needs; however, it is thought that a higher protein intake might be necessary for optimizing muscle mass, especially for adults and individuals with an active lifestyle. It is necessary to balance the accurate assessment of protein quality (e.g., digestible indispensable amino acid score; DIAAS) with methods that provide a physiological correlate (e.g., established measures of protein synthesis, substrate oxidation, lean mass retention, or accrual, etc.) in order to accurately define protein requirements for these physiological outcomes. Moreover, current recommendations need to shift from single nutrient guidelines to whole food based guidelines in order to practically acknowledge food matrix interactions and other required nutrients for potentially optimizing the health effects of food. The aim of this paper is to discuss protein quality and amount that should be consumed with consideration to the presence of non-protein constituents within a food matrix and potential interactions with physical activity to maximize muscle mass throughout life.


After years as a pariah, MLS sees its reputation rising

Reuters, Rory Carroll from

Major League Soccer, once shunned by the international football community, is gaining respect thanks to its steady growth in popularity and new stadium projects, commissioner Don Garber said.


Carter Stewart’s impact could be felt for years to come

Yahoo Sports, Tim Brown from

… “There are eyes on the great players in America,” Boras said Thursday morning in the lobby of his headquarters. “There are opportunities beyond Major League Baseball, where these players can go and develop and do so in a system that is as good or better. And in a system where the treatment, the compensation and the lifestyle is much better than what is offered in the minor leagues. We certainly have the ability to make those corrections. To make it better.”

There is a broader conversation to be had about a brand of game that in recent years has produced Masahiro Tanaka, Shohei Ohtani, Kenta Maeda, Yu Darvish and Yusei Kikuchi, and that would pay Carter Stewart $7 million (plus incentives) over six years as a 19-year-old, in part to develop him into a better pitcher.

And yet the debate over whether the minor-league system is adequate simply because it is the only system we have ever known, or over what this says – or should say – about a hard-slotted draft compensation structure, or over when the search for competitive balance becomes nothing more than a way to keep labor costs manageable, does little to describe what is ahead for the 19-year-old in a gray suit and lavender shirt who has his hands folded stiffly in his lap.


The Wysh List – Inside the St. Louis Blues’ bounce-backs

ESPN NHL, Greg Wyshynski from

Remember the Tampa Bay Lightning?

The duration of the Stanley Cup playoffs makes it feel like their ignominious sweep at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets happened an epoch ago. But I was thinking about them this week, because the St. Louis Blues are everything the Lightning were not.

Don’t get me wrong (TM, The Players’ Tribune), I’m sure the Blues would much rather be the team rampaging through the NHL like a Murdersaurus with 128 points and 62 wins than the team that had to do a four-month wind sprint to make the postseason. But maybe that sprint was the intangible, intrinsic thing for which Jon Cooper was searching when his team staggered over a cliff after one round in one of the most embarrassing playoff ousters in NHL history.

“When you have the amount of points we had, it’s a blessing and a curse, in a way. You don’t play any meaningful hockey for a long time. Then all of a sudden you have to ramp it up. It’s not an excuse, it’s reality,” Cooper said after the series. “That’s how it goes: You have a historic regular season, and we had a historic playoff.”


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