Applied Sports Science newsletter – July 1, 2019

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for July 1, 2019


The job hunt begins: Matt Mooney out to prove himself during NBA Summer League

Chicago Tribune, Niles Herald Spectator, Steve Reaven from

… “I was thinking recently that I’ve really never had a ‘real’ job. The focus has always been basketball,” said Mooney, a 6-foot-3 guard who helped Texas Tech reach the NCAA Tournament championship game this spring. “I finished up college on a really good note, but now taking the next step is very real.”

Mooney described his college career as a “journey.” It began in the fall of 2014 at Air Force, where he played one season. Then he transferred to South Dakota and played two seasons with the Coyotes. He helped them win 48 games in two seasons and averaged a team-high 18.7 points per game as a junior.


An Introduction to Physical Literacy

Lower Extremity Review, E.J. Durden-Myers and N. R. Green from

The notion of ‘literacy’ within the concept of ‘physical literacy’ arises from the importance of our embodied interaction with the world. It is accepted that we have a range of capabilities such as musical, literary, mathematical, etc., which can be developed. We all have an embodied potential and it is important that policies and mechanisms which are influential in providing opportunities to promote physical activity are coordinated, so that individuals can develop physical literacy throughout their lives. Physical literacy differs from most other literacies in its concern for the affective dimension, ie, motivation and confidence, and its focus on lifelong valuing and personal responsibility. However, it shares reference to the application of skills and knowledge and understanding with most others. Through maximizing movement opportunities during the early years, expanding experience in varied environments throughout formal schooling and providing opportunities throughout life to engage in physical activity, everyone has the potential to make progress on their physical literacy journey. Overcoming adversity or injury is also key to making progress and, as such, the healthcare profession has a huge role to play in supporting the development of physical literacy.


The Metrics Athletes Should Track Every Morning

Training Peaks, Joe Hamilton from

As a previously coached athlete and a coach myself, the nebulous “listen to your body” mandate once perplexed me. What exactly does listening to your body mean? And does everybody listen to their body the same way? As I have trained and coached, I have gained perspective on how and when to listen to your body to help achieve your goals.

It can be tempting to focus only on the physiological costs of prescribed workouts in the form of Training Stress Score (TSS), heart rate and intensity factor (IF). This is especially true among “Type A” athletes, who pride themselves on motivation and day-to-day execution. However, one of the most important (yet overlooked) metrics is simple: how you feel when you wake up in the morning.

For example, there are days when I wake up, measure my morning heart rate, and crawl to the shower. As I make my way out the door, I feel agitated and grouchy. At work, I find that climbing the two flights of stairs is difficult. If I look at my Performance Management Chart, it will usually confirm what I’m feeling: my Training Stress Balance (TSB) is negative and/or my ramp rate is high. All of these indicators will help confirm what my body and mind are already telling me: to adjust my workout or rest for the day.


Boston Red Sox Alex Cora offers travel advice before London trip: ‘Drink Pedialyte, not Bud Light’, Chris Cotillo from

The Red Sox will take one of their longest flights of the year Wednesday afternoon, flying to London for their two-game series against the Yankees this weekend.

The team has prepared for the trip by changing their eating and sleeping habits, using an app called “Teamworks” to get their bodies ready for a unique week that includes three off days and two trans-Atlantic flights. For manager Alex Cora, who plans to sleep on the way to London and stay awake for the flight back, things are much different than when he went to Japan for Boston’s opening series as a player in 2008.


Wolves create and hire new position: VP of Basketball Performance and Technology

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Chris Hine from

The Timberwolves made another addition to their basketball operations Friday, creating a unique position under President Gersson Rosas.

The Wolves are hiring Robby Sikka to be their vice president of basketball performance and technology. Sikka has an extensive background in sports medicine and has consulted with teams across the NBA, NHL, NFL and MLB. The Wolves are hiring Sikka to work exclusively for them.

Sikka will help assess and improve the Wolves’ on-court performance through the use of analytics and technology.


Want Your Kid to Play Pro Soccer? Sign Her Up for Basketball

WIRED, Science, Sara Harrison from

… “Sports performance has always coincided with the stories we tell ourselves about the American Dream,” says Matt Bowers, a professor at the University of Texas, Austin, who studies athlete development. “Being able to work your way towards a better life through this type of outlet.”

Private sports clubs too have spurred more early investment in sports. They began with youth hockey teams in the 1970s and today cover nearly every mainstream sport, including soccer, basketball, baseball, and softball. Those teams, which are open to kids as young as 6 or 7, play year-round and often leave little time for other sports or for free play. “It makes sense for somebody who’s running a private sports club to want you to specialize year-round, because that’s their livelihood,” says Bowers. “We have to acknowledge that a part of the specialization is that it’s in a lot of people’s financial interests to have kids specializing and participating year-round.”

There’s something intuitive about the specialization approach as well. Want to be good at violin? Practice reading music and playing. Want to be good at soccer? Play soccer. With sports, however, development isn’t that linear: The so-called 10,000-hours rule just doesn’t apply. Playing multiple sports can actually help young athletes gain important skills, while focusing on only one could end up hurting their long-term development.


Germany’s Secret Weapon Was Once Its Most Potent One on the Field

The New York Times, Andrew Keh from

The LinkedIn profile of the new sports psychologist for the German women’s soccer team depicts an impressively blossoming career.

She studied at Goethe University in Frankfurt and worked as a researcher at MSH Medical School in Hamburg. She has contributed to several papers published in scientific journals, the latest one titled “Depression and anxiety symptoms in 17 teams of female football players including 10 German first league teams.”

But the online résumé of the psychologist, Birgit Prinz, also has some fairly conspicuous omissions: namely, two World Cup trophies, three FIFA World Player of the Year Awards and many, many years as one of the most dominant soccer players on the planet.


Monitoring Fatigue During Intermittent Exercise With Accelerometer-Derived Metrics

Frontiers in Physiology journal from

The aim of this study was to assess the sensitivity of accelerometer-derived metrics for monitoring fatigue during an intermittent exercise protocol. Fifteen university students were enrolled in the study (age 20 ± 1 years). A submaximal intermitted recovery test (Sub-IRT) with a duration of 6 min and 30 s (drill 1) was performed. In order to increase the participants’ fatigue, after that, a repeated sprint protocol (1×6 maximal 20 m sprints) was performed. Following that, participants repeated the Sub-IRT (drill 2) to evaluate the external and internal training load (TL) variations related to fatigue. Apex 10 Hz global navigation satellite system (GNSS) units were used to collect the variables total distance (TD), high metabolic distance (HMD), relative velocity (RV), average metabolic power (MP), heart rate maximal (HRmax) and mean (HRmean), muscular (RPEmus) and respiratory rating of perceived exertion (RPEres), dynamic stress load (DSL), and fatigue index (FI). A Bayesian statistical approach was used. A likelihood difference (between drill 1 and drill 2) was found for the following parameters: TD (BF10 = 0.33, moderate per H0), HMD (BF10 = 1.3, anecdotal), RV (BF10 = 0.29, moderate per H0), MP (BF10 = 1.3, anecdotal), accelerations (BF10 = 1.6, anecdotal ), FI (BF10 = 4.7, moderate), HRmax (BF10 = 2.2, anecdotal), HRmean (BF10 = 4.3, moderate), RPEmus (BF10 = 11.6, strong), RPEres (BF10 = 3.1, moderate), DSL (BF10 = 5.7, moderate), and DSL•m−1 (BF10 = 4.3, moderate). In conclusion, this study reports that DSL, DSL•m−1, and FI can be valid metrics to monitor fatigue related to movement strategy during a standardized submaximal intermittent exercise protocol. [full text]


In screening of young athletes, one-third have elevated BP

Healio, Orthopedics Today from

… “Physical activity is beneficial for primary prevention of hypertension, although smaller previous reports have described relatively high blood pressure in competitive athletes of varying age and sport disciplines,” Hedman, senior lecturer and physiotherapist in the department of medicine, division of cardiovascular medicine, Stanford Cardiovascular Institute at Stanford University, and colleagues wrote.

The researchers examined the data of athletes aged 13 to 35 years who underwent preparticipation evaluations facilitated by the Stanford Sports Cardiology program. Resting BP was measured in both arms and repeated once if there was a BP reading of 140/90 mm Hg or more.


I’ve arrived in London for the World Rugby Law Review group meeting. A key role of laws is player welfare/injury prevention, so let me try give a run down of the key factors regarding injury – what, when, how – in a short thread ‘tutorial’

Twitter, Ross Tucker from


Can Hockey Culture Ever Accept Mental Health Injuries?

Grandstand Central, Dan Szczepanek from

If pain tolerance is such an integral part of hockey culture, how will fans respond when an invisible injury forces a player to miss time?


You Can’t Have Home Runs Without Strikeouts

FiveThirtyEight, Michael Salfino from

The defining characteristics of baseball in 2019 are the home run and the strikeout. Both are at all-time highs as of Tuesday. Make no mistake, the two statistics are closely related — and have been throughout baseball history.

This season, as of Tuesday, there are 6.4 strikeouts per homer. The average in the Live Ball Era, which began in 1920, is 6.5. So when adjusting homers in relation to strikeouts, 2019 is nearly a perfectly average year, ranking 45th out of the last 100 seasons in terms of most strikeouts per homer leaguewide. And note that just four of the top 20 seasons with the fewest strikeouts per homer have occurred after the Expansion Era began in 1961: 1961 (5.51 strikeouts per home run), 2000 (5.51), 1987 (5.62) and 1999 (5.62), according to


Data Analytics conference – Daniel Krueger report

Daniel Krueger, Stop Bunching blog from

… Overall I thought the conference was really well done. The small space allowed for some really valuable conversation and networking amongst the relatively small MLS/American football analytics community. Events like these are extremely important over the next couple of years to continue to grow the space and share ideas. As more clubs join the MLS and hire analysts the community will undoubtedly grow. I would love MLS analysts to take the approach of NBA analysts, where (from the outside looking in) ideas and projects are shared widely amongst team analysts. As an analytics manager myself in the college space, I try to share projects and thought processes with as many other analysts as I can because, though my processes is no longer unique, I get the chance to learn from my colleagues and the overall state of our community is hopefully improved. MLS front offices largely encourage analysts to keep models and visuals in-house. Though the pay check of the analyst comes from the team, I would argue that, for the betterment of league, the collaboration and sharing of ideas league-wide will bring the overall level to a higher standard at a faster rate. I would also like the MLS to grow in its role as a resource for the in-house analysts. I’m certainly not arguing for the sharing of code and player evaluation ratings, but sharing ideas in more of a general sense.


Why Wimbledon’s Prize Money Isn’t As High As You Think: An Accounting Of A Tennis Player’s Expenses

Forbes, John Isner from

… For Wimbledon this year, I found a nice home a short walk from the All-England Club for around £30,000 for the duration of the tournament. The prize money for the first round at Wimbledon is £45,000, which weighed against flights, salaries and expenses for my team would make the tournament a money-losing event for me.

I also maintain a full staff throughout the year. I have a coach—his name is David MacPherson, and he’s one of the best coaches in the world—and I have a chiropractor, Clint Cordial, who works to keep me healthy. I pay their salaries. I pay for their flights as we travel around the world on a weekly basis, and I pay for their hotels and meals while we’re on tour. Additionally, instead of having a front office manage the business of my team the way Dirk does, I have to do it, and I enlist the help of a management agency to help me so I can focus on winning matches.

The coaches/trainers are employed in relation to my on-court performance, and my agency is responsible for the endorsement and sponsorship work. These guys share in my success, and my earnings (which I introduced in my previous post). While it varies from player to player, the standard coaching fee structure on the ATP Tour is salary plus a percentage of prize money earned, with a bonus based on end-of-year rankings.


A Better Measure of Health Than Body Weight

The Atlantic, James Hamblin from

… Health is more strongly correlated with body-fat percentage and distribution than with overall weight, but getting an accurate measure of one’s muscle-to-fat ratio is not especially simple—and still draws focus to body image in ways that can introduce its own risks of eating disorders, depression, social isolation, and all manner of things that may be more dangerous than body fat itself.

Except in extreme cases, no single number gives a good idea of whether a person is functionally healthy or not. The common numbers are not directly or easily changeable. As these numbers continue to dominate health care, however, an emerging body of evidence is finding useful and cheap numbers that anyone can track. If these new numbers aren’t being taken seriously, it may be because they seem too obvious.


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