Applied Sports Science newsletter – June 11, 2019

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for June 11, 2019


Sinclair reflects on Canada’s soccer revolution ahead of Women’s World Cup from

Christine Sinclair sits down with Sportsnet’s Stephen Brunt ahead of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup to reflect on the evolution of the Canadian program during her time and the chance to make goal-scoring history in France.


‘He is a genius’ — Why Nadal pulled away to win his 12th French Open

ESPN Tennis, Simon Cambers from

… Intensity. Nadal’s ability to work for every single point, no matter how well he is playing, has been one of the hallmarks of his career. But it is the effect that it has on his opponents that is so important. Dominic Thiem played brilliantly in the first set of the 2019 French Open final on Sunday and lost it, 6-3. He played even better to win the second set, 7-5, but the fact that Nadal stayed close throughout meant that when Thiem had the slightest of dips at the start of the third, Nadal was there to take advantage. Nadal cruised to the third set, 6-1, then took the fourth by the same score to secure his 12th title at Roland Garros.

“Dominic dropped his level a little bit and Rafa was able to play confident again, and that was key,” Carlos Moya, the former French Open champion who took over as coach from Nadal’s uncle, Toni Nadal, last year, told a small group of reporters after the match. “When he broke that serve with a bad game from Dominic [to start the third set], we realized that the match was Rafa’s again.”


Norv Turner: It’s fun to watch Cam Newton get back to health

ProFootballTalk, Josh Alper from

… “He’s really attacked this rehab, and he’s done everything he could possibly do physically to get back to where he is with the shoulder,” Turner said. “The rehab’s gone great. Obviously, part of it he did on his own, a big part of it, before we got back. But since April 20 or so, when we got back, he’s been totally engaged, both physically and mentally. It’s been fun to watch him. He’s very serious about the rehab, but he’s been Cam. Everyone likes being around him. He brings energy every day, and he’s very helpful with the young quarterbacks.”


Pete Alonso, the Giddy Star Rising in Queens

The New York Times, Kevin Armstrong from

… The next stop on Alonso’s learning curve is the Subway Series in the Bronx. For Yankees fans just tuning in, here is the scouting report on No. 20:

1. He is known as “The Polar Bear” among his teammates and coaches. His beard, paunch, dense build (6-foot-3, 245 pounds), raw power and general good nature earned him the nickname.

“I’m not surprised,” his mother says. “I’ve got a picture of him shirtless on the Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska because he was like, ‘It’s not cold here.’ He was in eighth grade. This kid.”

2. Alonso is a Statcast all-star. His homers average 410 feet. His longest was 454 feet, and left his bat at 118.3 miles per hour.


Kawhi — In-season rest key to availability in Finals

ESPN NBA, Tim Bontemps from

Kawhi Leonard said Friday that if the Toronto Raptors hadn’t put him on a load-management plan during the regular season, he wouldn’t be playing in the NBA Finals.

“It was big,” Leonard said in a sit-down interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “When it got bad, we ended up taking, you know, four or five games off. And, you know, if we didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be here right now.

“The way we laid out the schedule was good. I’m happy.”


High-intensity exercise training enhances mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation efficiency in a temperature-dependent manner in human skeletal muscle: implications for exercise performance.

FASEB J journal from

The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether exercise training-induced adaptations in human skeletal muscle mitochondrial bioenergetics are magnified under thermal conditions resembling sustained intense contractile activity and whether training-induced changes in mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) efficiency influence exercise efficiency. Twenty healthy men performed 6 wk of high-intensity exercise training [i.e., speed endurance training (SET; n = 10)], or maintained their usual lifestyle (CON; n = 10). Before and after the intervention, mitochondrial respiratory function was determined ex vivo in permeabilized muscle fibers under experimentally-induced normothermia (35°C) and hyperthermia (40°C) mimicking in vivo muscle temperature at rest and during intense exercise, respectively. In addition, activity and content of muscle mitochondrial enzymes and proteins were quantified. Exercising muscle efficiency was determined in vivo by measurements of leg hemodynamics and blood parameters during one-legged knee-extensor exercise. SET enhanced maximal OXPHOS capacity and OXPHOS efficiency at 40°C, but not at 35°C, and attenuated hyperthermia-induced decline in OXPHOS efficiency. Furthermore, SET increased expression of markers of mitochondrial content and up-regulated content of MFN2, DRP1, and ANT1. Also, SET improved exercise efficiency and capacity. These findings indicate that muscle mitochondrial bioenergetics adapts to high-intensity exercise training in a temperature-dependent manner and that enhancements in mitochondrial OXPHOS efficiency may contribute to improving exercise performance


Women soccer players usually peak in their 20s—here’s why some excel into their 40s

Popular Science, Nicole Wetsman from

… Female athletes have certain advantages when it comes to endurance in sport, says Stacy Sims, an exercise physiologist and senior research fellow at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. Women tend to have more metabolically efficient muscles, and process more fatty acids in their muscles than men. They also have more mitochondria in their muscles, so they can produce more energy. “Men train to become more metabolically efficient. Women naturally do that,” she says. Through dedicated training, they can build the neuromuscular adaptations that maximize that ability—Sims says it takes around 15 years. If athletes enter a professional environment in their preteen years, that means they’ll likely peak in their late 20s.

Social factors also contribute to that timing, Sims says. “Women are marginalized in sport, so talent identification in kids happens later,” she says. “They have to fight so much to be identified, and tend to get into professional sports later.” Boys, on the other hand, may start that professional training younger, and therefore build to their physical peak earlier.


NBA Finals 2019: High-profile injuries put pressure on training staffs

USA Today Sports, Jeff Zillgitt from

A man you’ve probably never heard of is under immense pressure at the NBA Finals. He doesn’t dribble, shoot, pass or draw up plays.

His name is Rick Celebrini, and he is the Golden State Warriors’ director of sports medicine and performance.

Celebrini and his staff are working hard to get star Kevin Durant back on the court while keeping the player’s best interest in mind. Durant, who will be a free agent this summer, has been out since May 8 with a strained calf.

“When he’s ready to play, he’ll play. That’s our approach,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said earlier in the series against Toronto, which the Raptors lead 3-1.


Epidemiology of injuries in professional football: a systematic review and meta-analysis

British Journal of Sports Medicine from

Objective We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of epidemiological data of injuries in professional male football.

Method Forty-four studies have reported the incidence of injuries in football. Two reviewers independently extracted data and assessed trial quality using the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology statement and Newcastle Ottawa Scale. Studies were combined in a pooled analysis using a Poisson random effects regression model.

Results The overall incidence of injuries in professional male football players was 8.1 injuries/1000 hours of exposure. Match injury incidence (36 injuries/1000 hours of exposure) was almost 10 times higher than training injury incidence rate (3.7 injuries/1000 hours of exposure). Lower extremity injuries had the highest incidence rates (6.8 injuries/1000 hours of exposure). The most common types of injuries were muscle/tendon (4.6 injuries/1000 hours of exposure), which were frequently associated with traumatic incidents. Minor injuries (1–3 days of time loss) were the most common. The incidence rate of injuries in the top 5 European professional leagues was not different to that of the professional leagues in other countries (6.8 vs 7.6 injuries/1000 hours of exposure, respectively).

Conclusions Professional male football players have a substantial risk of sustaining injuries, especially during matches.


A season long investigation into the effects of injury, match selection and training load on mental wellbeing in professional under 23 soccer players: A team case study

European Journal of Sport Science from

This study examined the influence of injury, match selection and training load on mental wellbeing (MW) in a squad of professional soccer players. Using a longitudinal design, twenty-five male soccer players (age, 20 ± 1 years, height, 1.80 ± 5.79 m, body mass 76.33 ± 7.52 kg) from the under 23 squad playing in the Premier League 2 division in the UK completed the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Well-being Scale (WEMWBS) each week of the 2017/2018 season (37 weeks in total). Injury and non-selection for the match squad were the only significant predictors of MW (P < 0.05). Injury had the biggest influence on MW that was lower when injured vs. not injured (43.6 ± 5.0 vs. 49.9 ± 3.5, respectively, P = 0.001, ES = 1.48), accounting for 40% of the variation in MW. This increased to 50% when not being selected to play games was also considered. Weekly training loads measured by GPS (total distance, sprint distance and total duration) and individual player win rate did not influence MW (P > 0.05). These findings highlight the importance of monitoring MW in professional soccer players and suggest that injured players and those rarely selected for the match squad should be educated on the strategies available for managing their mental health and wellbeing.


Jalen Rose Has a Problem with Basketball Analytics

The New Yorker, Isaac Chotiner from

It seems to me that a lot of ex-players don’t like the increasing focus on analytics and advanced stats in the conversation around sports. Do you think that is fair as a generalization, and if so, why do you think that is?

Oh, wow, you are going to start off with a don’t-get-fired topic that I am going to pull you behind the curtain on, if you really want to know the impetus behind the backlash.

I’m all ears.

No. 1, there are many people that feel like it has a cultural overtone to it that basically suggests that, even though I may not have played and you did, I am smarter than you, and I know some things that you don’t know, and the numbers support me, not you. Two, you notice that, when it is a powerful job in sports—whether it is an owner, whether it is a president, whether it is a general manager, whether it is a coach—usually in football and basketball, sports that are primarily dominated by black Americans, it’s also an opportunity to funnel jobs to people by saying that, “I am smarter than you because the numbers back up what I say, and I am more read. I study more. I am able to take these numbers and manipulate my point.” It’s almost like when you hear that a player doesn’t have experience at doing X job. People that normally get the jobs you are describing don’t, either. They didn’t play at most levels, but that suffices as their “experience” and validates their opportunity for power.


The Americans Who Are Expected To Crush The World Cup

FiveThirtyEight, Tony Chow and Sara Ziegler from

The U.S. women’s national soccer team kicks off its campaign to win its fourth World Cup trophy on Tuesday. Watch the video above to learn about this year’s squad and to find out which players could have the biggest impact on the pitch.


The staggering amount Liverpool’s squad is now worth as Premier League rank revealed

Liverpool Echo, Connor Dunn from

Here is what every player in Jurgen Klopp’s squad is estimated to be worth right now and how much the Reds could make from potential outgoings


Measuring predictability in hitters

SB Nation, Beyond the Boxscore blog, Patrick Brennan from

With the rising prominence of the shift, the trait of being unpredictable at the plate has more value.


Does sports betting puts student athletes at risk?

Burlington County Times (NJ), James McGinnis from

… Many colleges and universities publish volumes of a student-athlete data — figures that can now be studied in detail by hardcore bettors at newly legalized sports betting operations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

And, legal experts are urging such schools to update their policies and better educate players, coaches and staff on the complicated rules of a game when you can now bet on every match-up.

In May, the Philadelphia-based law firm Schnader Harrison Segal & Lewis LLP released a “Universities & Sports Betting Alert.”

“The legitimization of collegiate sports wagering imposes risks that have the potential to undermine the integrity of both the institution and the sports contests, as well as to jeopardize the welfare of student-athletes,” said Theresa E. Loscalzo, co-chair of the firm’s e-commerce and technology practice group.


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