Applied Sports Science newsletter – September 29, 2021

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for September 29, 2021


How TB12 keeps Tom Brady ageless and thriving in the NFL

Tampa Bay Times, Rick Stroud from

The QB credits his relationship with longtime trainer Alex Guerrero and preventative treatment for his career longevity. The Bucs brass and teammates also are buying in.

Lakers say they’re building a vintage championship contender

Associated Press, Greg Beacham from

… At 36 years old, James is on a roster of his peers as he enters his 19th NBA season. Nine of the Lakers’ 14 current players are 32 or older, including including eight of their 11 new additions — and Anthony Davis is a high-mileage 28. Depending on any late moves, the Lakers’ average age is likely to be nearly 31, which would be two years older than any other NBA roster.

But instead of fixating on his new teammates’ 1980s birthdates, James thinks people should be focusing on the skill, experience and athleticism represented by all those numbers. Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and a supporting cast of accomplished NBA veterans are teaming up with James and Davis, and they are confident they can prove age is not yet a hindrance to their incredible talent.

Bryce Harper Didn’t Need Luck For An MVP-Level Season

FiveThirtyEight, Brian Menendez from

If you do a Google search for “Is Bryce Harper overrated?” you’ll find plenty of evidence to support the claim that he is. Similarly, if you search, “Is Bryce Harper underrated?” you may find just as much evidence. The up-and-down career of the polarizing Phillies right fielder has provided plenty of fodder for all opinions.

But no matter what you believe about Harper, he seems to have recaptured the magic of his previous peaks. The former MVP is playing like one again, leading the National League in weighted runs created plus (173) and second in wins above replacement (6.6), according to FanGraphs. The NL MVP race has been wide open for much of the season, with Harper and San Diego’s Fernando Tatís Jr. the front-runners, though a hard-charging Juan Soto has entered the fray as well. In the final week of the 2021 season, Harper has one more chance to make his case to voters — who may want to look back at how he got here.

NBA: Warriors’ Klay Thompson could be out until ‘maybe January’

Yahoo Sports, Ben Rohrbach from

Thompson will participate in non-contact drills in training camp. He has not been cleared to scrimmage.

“If you were to watch Klay, certainly, at this point working out, if you didn’t know, you’d say, ‘Well, this guy looks like he can play now,'” Myers told reporters at Monday’s media availability. “But he hasn’t played 5-on-5 in quite some time, so that’s up to the training staff and it’s up to the individuals to see when that’s the right time to come back. But we’ll tell you. I just don’t have the exact answer to those questions yet.”

Myers suggested Thompson could spend time with the Warriors’ G League affiliate in Santa Cruz, where he can more easily use practice time to get into game shape during the regular season. The decision to return to game action will be a joint one between Thompson and the team’s director of sports medicine, Dr. Rick Celebrini.

Are two heads better than one? Or do too many cooks spoil the broth?

University of Pennsylvania, CSS Lab from

Can we predict whether a team of interacting individuals will outperform a group of individuals working alone?

In their new paper “Task complexity moderates group synergy,” Abdullah Almaatouq and Duncan Watts, along with co-authors Mohammed Alsobay and Ming Yin, tackle this question at the task level. Key to their approach is a measurable interpretation of task complexity, defined in terms of the number of task components and the interdependencies between them. Using this framework, they find that collaborative teams are more efficient than even the most efficient individuals when the task is complex—but not when the task is simple.

An Individualized Intervention Increases Sleep Duration in Professional Athletes

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research from

Athletes typically obtain less sleep than is generally recommended for healthy adults. The aim of this study was to determine whether individualized feedback could increase sleep duration in professional cricket players in the 3 weeks before the start of the domestic season. Players were randomly assigned to a control group (i.e., no individual feedback; n = 8) or an intervention group (i.e., individual feedback about bedtime, wake time, and sleep duration; n = 7). Night-time sleep and daytime naps were monitored using wrist activity monitors in conjunction with self-report sleep diaries for 1 week before, and 1 week after, the feedback intervention. Cumulative sleep duration was calculated as the sum of the sleep duration for a night-time sleep episode and any naps that occurred on the following day. Differences in cumulative sleep duration before and after the intervention were examined using a mixed-effects analysis of variance. There was an interaction between group and week for cumulative sleep duration (p = 0.039; η2 = 0.6; large). The average cumulative sleep duration was longer (+36 minutes) in the intervention group in week 2 compared with week 1. Individualized feedback can be used to increase sleep duration in professional cricket players. In future, it will be important to determine whether improvements in sleep duration can be maintained throughout the season.

Thomas Tuchel at Mainz: ‘You need A-levels for some of these exercises!’

The Guardian, Daniel Meuren and Tobias Schächter from

Over the course of 10 years in youth football, Thomas Tuchel had made progress. First, as assistant manager, he learned from Hansi Kleitsch at Stuttgart, who was considered a luminary in German junior football. Then he gained experience as head coach of teams in various age groups.

As was both tradition and doctrine at German academies at the time, Tuchel used repetition to drill in his exercises: the same pass practised 100 times, the same 100 passing sequences repeated during a training routine.

“Now, we’re doing a much higher number of repetitions but no longer in a drilling manner,” he said. “We train on very complex, tight pitches and always get the players to come up with new solutions depending on the shape of the game.” Put more simply, players were practising passes in game circumstances under higher pressure than in a match, without thinking about what they were doing.

FIFA joins forces on ground-breaking female player health and performance study

FIFA, News from

FIFA, in collaboration with Orreco and Western Sydney University, is investing in female player health and performance research to build better future sports science systems.

For decades, the scientific understanding of the female athlete has been overlooked. Physiology, nutrition, injury patterns, sleep and recovery recommendations have all been based on research into male athletes, but this is quickly changing.

A new, exciting collaboration has seen FIFA join forces with Orreco, an Irish sports bioanalytics company that has pioneered innovation in female athlete sport science support, and Western Sydney University, Australia, to begin bridging this knowledge gap and come up with actionable guidelines or recommendations. This research will help provide the evidence base needed to provide data-driven system solutions for female football player sports science support via a fully funded PhD studentship.

Slinger Acquires Artificial Intelligence Company GAMEFACE.AI

Australia Ministry of Sport from

… Slinger, a sports brand focused on innovating game improvement technology and equipment, has today announced they are acquiring GAMEFACE.AI’s leading AI, data collection and performance analysis capabilities, to enhance Slinger’s connected sports and technology offering.

GAMEFACE.AI has already developed AI systems for the upcoming Slinger App, including instant analysis of groundstrokes and biomechanics, plus event recognition from match play situations.

GAMEFACE.AI offers advanced technology that will allow Slinger Bag to deliver both technical (biomechanics) and tactical (strategy) insights through its camera agnostic AI video platform.

Polar: Fitness tracking shouldn’t be so complicated

Pocket-lint, Rik Henderson from

… The brand’s “smart coaching” technologies use a more focused approach to reading and analysing fitness data than most, to help the wearer quickly assess how much exercise they should be doing or when to stop: “In the past, you had all the separate measurements, like heart rate, sleep tracking, training mode, recovery time. They were all basically independent features you had in your device, and you have to do your interpretation yourself,” we were told by Polar CEO Sander Werring for the latest episode of the Pocket-lint Podcast.

“Smart coaching enables us to take difficult scientific data and translate it into simple, actionable data. So, if you spend time exercising with a product, let’s make sure that it counts. Make sure that you do not under train and waste your time, or do not overtrain and lose time because you get injured.”

Is there an association between high-speed running biomechanics and hamstring strain injury? A systematic review

Sports Biomechanics journal from

Despite increased awareness of the multifactorial nature of Hamstring Strain Injury (HSI), the role of running biomechanics remains unclear. The aim of this systematic review was to investigate whether an association exists between running biomechanics and HSI. Five databases were searched from inception to January 2021. Eligibility criteria included epidemiological studies that provide data on running biomechanics in athletes who have sustained a HSI (retrospectively or prospectively) and compared to control data. Searches yielded 4,798 articles. Twelve met the selection criteria. Biomechanical analysis differed considerably across studies, thus meta-analyses was not possible. Studies largely found either no differences or contradicting findings between running biomechanics of athletes who have sustained a HSI (retrospectively or prospectively) and controls, with the exception of lateral trunk kinematics and horizontal propulsive forces. It is important to note some concern regarding the quality of included studies, particularly sample size, increasing the risk of bias associated with results. Further research utilising validated methods of biomechanical analysis, is needed to determine if an association exists between running biomechanics and HSI. Until then, definitive conclusions cannot be drawn as to whether specific biomechanical interventions should be included in injury prevention and/or rehabilitation programmes.

Why Was the Decision in Shelby Houlihan’s Doping Case So Unsatisfying?

Malcolm Gladwell from

… So an athlete you probably haven’t heard of gets busted for cheating, she offers a lame defense, and now her career is over. Why am I bringing this up? Because it touches on something that I’ve been fascinated with ever since I read a brilliant book many years ago by the sociologist Charles Tilly.

Tilly taught at Columbia University. He was one of the great minds of his generation. He wrote about things like war and democracy and labor movements over centuries. You can do a whole lot worse than to devote a few weeks to reading some Tilly. (Although, I’ll warn you, his books are not exactly beach reading.) At the end of his life, however, he wrote one final book, a short and elegant essay simply called “Why?”

To Bring Food Into Health, We Must Bring Health To The Food System

Health Affairs, Maninder Kahlon and Raj Patel from

Two of the oldest maxims in health care are “do no harm” and “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” However, these two maxims may no longer be compatible. In the current push to prescribe food as a medicine, the health care system may be harming those working in the food system who need that medicine the most. Fortunately, a systemic analysis of both food and health can help to align incentives to achieve the best outcomes for all involved.

Is The Mere Threat Of A Three Enough To Affect A Defense?

FiveThirtyEight, Caitlin Cooper from

Three-point percentage is often thought of as a barometer for spacing, and for good reason: The higher a team’s percentage, the riskier it is for opposing teams to roam away from the shooters. Legitimate shooters pose a threat from a range of distances, splitting focus for defenders and opening opportunities for their teammates. But what happens when a sharpshooter is suddenly — and frequently — misfiring on all types of threes?

It turns out that a lower 3-point percentage may not necessarily guarantee cramped elbow room.

Just look at Eric Gordon.

Analytics continue seeping into NFL decisions, but how much do Steelers buy in?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Brian Batko from

Fresh off a home loss to the Raiders, Ben Roethlisberger sat at his postgame news conference and fielded questions about why the Steelers punted instead of trying to convert a 4th-and-1 at their 34 with 8:36 left and facing a nine-point deficit.

Pressed on if he wanted coach Mike Tomlin to leave his offense on the field there, Roethlisberger said he doesn’t have a choice when the punt team is running on. Asked if he’d want to go for it and try to keep the drive alive, Roethlisberger simply cocked his head and smiled.

Later that night, the Baltimore Ravens had a 4th-and-1 of their own, at their 43, with 1:05 to go while clinging to a one-point lead against high-powered Kansas City. Coach John Harbaugh stepped onto the field, shouted to Lamar Jackson, “Do you want to go for this?” and kept his star quarterback out there. Jackson rushed for 2 yards, and the game was over.

Not exactly the same situations, but still, the juxtaposition was striking. And it might be less about coach-quarterback dynamics than it is about organizational philosophies.

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