Applied Sports Science newsletter – May 19, 2017

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for May 19, 2017


Rested Cristiano Ronaldo hitting form at the perfect time for Real Madrid – ESPN FC

ESPN FC, Dermot Corrigan from

Cristiano Ronaldo is currently having the best end to a season in his entire career. Manager Zinedine Zidane’s rotation policy has kept Real Madrid’s main man fit and fresh at exactly the right time.

In recent years, Ronaldo has often reached the final stages of the campaign hampered by fitness issues. His limited influence in open play during the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals was ultimately not so important given he ended up celebrating a vital late contribution, but his inability to hit top form in the La Liga run-in has arguably led to Madrid going four years without lifting the trophy.

Things look very different this year, as Ronaldo has accelerated just when needed most.


Paul Pogba Can’t Save Manchester United Alone. Nobody Can.

The New York Times, Rory Smith from

English soccer’s obsession with the individual over the team is projected onto the world’s most expensive player.


Detroit Lions’ Eric Ebron starts Pilates to try to stay healthy – NFC North- ESPN

ESPN NFL, Michael Rothstein from

Eric Ebron couldn’t stop sweating. His body shook. The new workout he started this offseason was affecting him — for good and bad. The good: It was making a difference. The bad: It was leaving him fatigued and ready to be done for the day.

This was Ebron’s initial experience into the world of Pilates, an exercise regimen created to improve flexibility, posture and strength, including in the core. He did this in suburban Detroit and also worked with a private instructor.


Injury Was Inevitable for Noah Syndergaard

New York Magazine, Will Leitch from

One of the more absurd, madcap musical chairs of recent Mets vintage — and, boy howdy, have there been plenty — was April’s foofaraw involving an injury to pitcher Noah Syndergaard.

Last year, the Asgardian ace threw his fastball harder on average than any starter in baseball, a blazing, terrifying, that-doesn’t-really-seem-fair thunderbolt that consistently ran to an almost-impossible-to-believe 97.6 mph, the highest in baseball history. This spring, he showed up to training camp boasting that he’d added 17 pounds of muscle that would allow him to throw still harder. And he was as good out of the gate as any Met has been in decades (three starts, 19 IP, 2 ER, 20 K, 0 BB). Then he began complaining of a “dead arm” but refused to submit to an MRI, declaring that he knew his godlike body best and that he was fine. The Mets believed him — partly because they wanted to and partly because, as Mets general manager Sandy Alderson put it, “I can’t tie him down and throw him in the tube” — and let him make his next start. You probably know what happened next: Syndergaard left the game early, in pain, and afterward learned he’d miss at least two months.


The functional movement test 9+ is a poor screening test for lower extremity injuries in professional male football players: a 2-year prospective cohort study | British Journal of Sports Medicine

British Journal of Sports Medicine from

Background The 9+ screening battery test consists of 11 tests to assess limitations in functional movement.

Aim To examine the association of the 9+ with lower extremity injuries and to identify a cut-off point to predict injury risk.

Methods Professional male football players in Qatar from 14 teams completed the 9+ at the beginning of the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 seasons. Time-loss injuries and exposure in training and matches were registered prospectively by club medical staff during these seasons. Univariate and multivariate Cox regression analyses were used to calculate HR and 95% CI. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves were calculated to determine sensitivity and specificity and identify the optimal cut-off point for risk assessment.

Results 362 players completed the 9+ and had injury and exposure registration. There were 526 injuries among 203 players (56.1%) during the two seasons; injuries to the thigh were the most frequent. There was no association between 9+ total score and the risk of lower extremity injuries (HR 1.02, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.05, p=0.13), even after adjusting for other risk factors in a multivariate analysis (HR 1.01, 95% CI 0.98 to 1.04, p=0.37). ROC curve analysis revealed an area under the curve of 0.48, and there was no cut-off point that distinguished injured from non-injured players.

Conclusion The 9+ was not associated with lower extremity injury, and it was no better than chance for distinguishing between injured and uninjured players. Therefore, the 9+ test cannot be recommended as an injury prediction tool in this population.


Prognostic factors for musculoskeletal injury identified through medical screening and training load monitoring in professional football (soccer): a systematic review.

British Journal of Sports Medicine from


To identify prognostic factors and models for spinal and lower extremity injuries in adult professional/elite football players from medical screening and training load monitoring processes.

The MEDLINE, AMED, EMBASE, CINAHL Plus, SPORTDiscus electronic bibliographic databases and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews were searched from inception to July 2016. Searches were limited to original research, published in peer reviewed journals of any language. The Quality in Prognostic Studies (QUIPS) tool was used for appraisal and the modified GRADE approach was used for synthesis. Prospective and retrospective cohort study designs of spinal and lower extremity injury incidence were found from populations of adult professional/elite football players, between 16 and 40 years. Non-football or mixed sports were excluded.

858 manuscripts were identified. Removing duplications left 551 studies, which were screened for eligibility by title and abstract. Of these, 531 studies were not eligible and were excluded. The full text of the remaining 20 studies were obtained; a further 10 studies were excluded. 10 studies were included for appraisal and analysis, for 3344 participants.

Due to the paucity and heterogeneity of the literature, and shortcomings in methodology and reporting, the evidence is of very low or low quality and therefore cannot be deemed robust enough to suggest conclusive prognostic factors for all lower limb musculoskeletal injury outcomes identified. No studies were identified that examined spinal injury outcomes or prognostic models.


Rugby research team find 20-minute exercise plan reduces injury risk

The Guardian, Robert Kitson from

A study has found a specific 20-minute exercise programme can reduce injuries in teenage rugby players by more than 70%. Experts from the University of Bath say they are excited by the dramatic findings, which are to set to be implemented across all levels of the community game by the Rugby Football Union before next season.

According to the benchmark study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found overall injuries fell by 72% when players completed the newly devised exercise session at least three times a week, either just before a match or before training. Concussion injuries were also reduced by 59% in a survey that involved monitoring 40 schools nationwide and nearly 2,500 players aged 14 –18.


What know-it-alls don’t know, or the illusion of competence

Aeon Ideas, Kate Fehlhaber from

One day in 1995, a large, heavy middle-aged man robbed two Pittsburgh banks in broad daylight. He didn’t wear a mask or any sort of disguise. And he smiled at surveillance cameras before walking out of each bank. Later that night, police arrested a surprised McArthur Wheeler. When they showed him the surveillance tapes, Wheeler stared in disbelief. ‘But I wore the juice,’ he mumbled. Apparently, Wheeler thought that rubbing lemon juice on his skin would render him invisible to videotape cameras. After all, lemon juice is used as invisible ink so, as long as he didn’t come near a heat source, he should have been completely invisible.

Police concluded that Wheeler was not crazy or on drugs – just incredibly mistaken.

The saga caught the eye of the psychologist David Dunning at Cornell University, who enlisted his graduate student, Justin Kruger, to see what was going on. They reasoned that, while almost everyone holds favourable views of their abilities in various social and intellectual domains, some people mistakenly assess their abilities as being much higher than they actually are. This ‘illusion of confidence’ is now called the ‘Dunning-Kruger effect’, and describes the cognitive bias to inflate self-assessment.


Robert Sapolsky: The biology of our best and worst selves from

How can humans be so compassionate and altruistic — and also so brutal and violent? To understand why we do what we do, neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky looks at extreme context, examining actions on timescales from seconds to millions of years before they occurred. In this fascinating talk, he shares his cutting edge research into the biology that drives our worst and best behaviors.


Relationship between Pre-Training Subjective Wellness Measures, Player Load and Rating of Perceived Exertion Training Load in American College Football.

International Journal of Sports Physiology & Performance from


The relationship between pre-training subjective wellness, external and internal training load in American College football is unclear. This study examined the relationship between pre-training subjective wellness (sleep quality, muscle soreness, energy, wellness Z score) on 1) player load and 2) session rating of perceived exertion (s-RPE-TL) in American College footballers.

Subjective wellness (measured using 5-point, Likert scale questionnaires); external load (derived from global position systems [GPS] and accelerometry) and s-RPE-TL were collected during three typical training sessions per week for the second half of an American collegiate football season (eight weeks). The relationship between pre-training subjective wellness and 1) player load and 2) s-RPE training load were analysed using linear mixed models with a random intercept for athlete and a random slope for training session. Standardised mean differences (SMD) denote the effect magnitude.

A one unit increase in wellness Z score and energy were associated with a trivial 2.3% (90% confidence interval (CI): 0.5, 4.2; SMD: 0.12) and 2.6% (90% CI: 0.1, 5.2; SMD: 0.13) increase in player load. A one unit increase in muscle soreness (players felt less sore) corresponded to a trivial 4.4% (90% CI: -8.4, -0.3; SMD: -0.05) decrease in s-RPE training load.

Measuring pre-training subjective wellness may provide information about players’ capacity to perform within a training session and could be a key determinant of their response to the imposed training demands American College football. Hence, monitoring subjective wellness may assist the individualisation of training prescription in American College footballers.


Lab-grown blood stem cells produced at last

Nature News & Comment, Amy Maxmen from

After 20 years of trying, scientists have transformed mature cells into primordial blood cells that regenerate themselves and the components of blood. The work, described today in Nature, offers hope to people with leukaemia and other blood disorders who need bone-marrow transplants but can’t find a compatible donor. If the findings translate into the clinic, these patients could receive lab-grown versions of their own healthy cells.

One team, led by stem-cell biologist George Daley of Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, created human cells that act like blood stem cells, although they are not identical to those found in nature1. A second team, led by stem-cell biologist Shahin Rafii of Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City, turned mature cells from mice into fully fledged blood stem cells.


Three Washington business heavyweights are betting on a ‘sports prediction’ app

The Washington Post, Aaron Gregg from

The experience of fantasy sports start-ups DraftKings and FanDuel is seen as a cautionary tale for many in the sports business. Both rose to sky-high valuations only to crash into a regulatory wall as legal challenges complicated their ability to solicit payments from users. Last year, the two companies agreed to merge amid a broader restructuring.

But a group of powerful Washington-area investors thinks it’s found a way to engage sports fans in a similar way, minus the legal trouble.

The Washington professional basketball and hockey holding company Monumental Sports & Entertainment, Silver Spring-based Discovery Communications and former Washington Post owner Graham Holdings are joining a $12 million investment in WinView, a Silicon Valley start-up that lets users make minute-by-minute predictions on their smartphones during sports games. Users compete against one another and win small cash prizes if they’re right often enough. The firm’s executive chairman is Tom Rogers, a former television executive who headed NBC Cable and TiVo.


Think all artificial turf is the same? Think again! Just look around MLS

FourFourTwo, Tim Newcomb from

Monofilament polyethylene blend, silica sand and cryogenic rubber, aka artificial turf. You see it in MLS, whether in Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, New England or even Atlanta’s soon-to-be home (Minnesota will transition to natural grass when it moves into its new home).

But what is different about each turf, and how do the surfaces compare? That question gets defined not by the product installed in each stadium but by the uses of each venue, and how those uses dictate maintenance. Portland, Seattle and New England all feature Georgia-based FieldTurf’s most premium product, the Revolution 360 infill system, as will Atlanta. Vancouver bucks the FieldTurf trend and opts for Germany-based PolyTan’s LigaTurf RS+ CoolPlus system.

But don’t think all five turfs will play the same.


An Introduction to LIDAR: The Key Self-Driving Car Sensor

Voyage, Oliver Cameron from

At Voyage we recently shared the news of Homer, our first self-driving taxi. Homer is outfitted with a whole range of sensors to aid in understanding and navigating the world, key to which is LIDAR (short for light detection and ranging). In this post you’ll learn more about LIDAR, its origins in the self-driving car space, and how it stacks against other sensors.


[1705.06628] Robust respiration tracking in high-dynamic range scenes using mobile thermal imaging

arXiv, Computer Science > Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition; Youngjun Cho, Simon J. Julier, Nicolai Marquardt, Nadia Bianchi-Berthouze from

The importance of monitoring respiration, one of the vital signs, has repeatedly been highlighted in medical treatments, healthcare and fitness sectors. Current ubiquitous measurement systems require to wear respiration belts or nasal probe to track respiration rates. At the same time, digital image sensor based PPG requires support of ambient lighting sources, which does not work properly in dark places and under varied lighting conditions. Recent advancements in thermographic systems, shrinking their size, weight and cost, open new possibilities for creating smart-phone based respiration rate monitoring devices that do no suffer from lighting conditions. However, mobile thermal imaging is challenged in scenes with high thermal dynamic ranges and, as for PPG with noises amplified by combined motion artefacts and breathing dynamics. In this paper, we propose a novel robust respiration tracking method which compensates for the negative effects of variations of the ambient temperature and the artefacts can accurately extract breathing rates from controlled respiration exercises in highly dynamic thermal scenes.


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