Applied Sports Science newsletter – May 23, 2017

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for May 23, 2017


Can Joey Gallo sustain his extreme performance at the plate?

ESPN, SweetSpot blog, Dave Schoenfield from

… You can see what makes Gallo unique, even within this extraordinary group: He has the highest strikeout rate and the highest wRC+. That strikeout rate, in fact, would be the highest ever by a player with at least 400 plate appearances. Only eight times has a player with that many PAs fanned in at least 35 percent of them; Melvin Nieves has the highest at 38.8 percent. If you’re striking out that much, you eventually find yourself on the bench.

Can Gallo keep this up? He has 26 hits — half of them for home runs. That’s insane. When Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001, 46.7 percent of his hits went for home runs. Mark McGwire was at 46 percent when he hit 70 in 1998. His 2001 season, listed above? He had 56 hits, 29 for home runs — that’s 51.8 percent. As such, Gallo isn’t quite in unprecedented territory. His BABIP is extremely low at .200, which you would expect because when he does make contact, it often flies over the fence.


Olympic shot putter Michelle Carter on mental edge, Rio, Chris Chavez from

Chris Chavez: You’ve got three Olympic appearances on your resume and each time out you took baby steps for a higher finish and then last summer, you ultimately won. How much of that is attributed to handling the pressure of that stage and getting used to it.

Michelle Carter: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, right? I always figure that as you experience life and things, you usually learn and pick up on things that you can do better. That’s how I look at my career over time. Each time, I took a piece of those meets and those experiences so that I could put it together for the grand finale. I told myself, “OK, Michelle. Last time, you were really excited about this and by your fifth throw, you were super tired. Don’t get so excited and calm down to pace your energy.” I walked myself through things like that. I also realize that I do this at practice. I learn how to put myself in situations at practice that cause me to zone in on what I’m trying to accomplish at meets. I try to make my practice surrounding as close to competition pressure to focus on what I need to do on the big stage.


How an early-season challenge brought innovation for KU basketball

The Kansas City Star, Jesse Newell from

… The Jayhawks’ four-guard lineup was originally supposed to be a backup plan. Coach Bill Self envisioned playing it sparingly while using a primary lineup with forward Carlton Bragg at the 4.

The latter idea never fully developed. Bragg wasn’t emerging to step into Perry Ellis’ role as a scoring forward, while wings Josh Jackson, Svi Mykhailiuk and Lagerald Vick appeared ready for extended minutes.

“I think the more we practiced,” Townsend said during the NCAA Tournament in March, “we saw that (small lineup) was having our best team on the floor.”


Jet Stream: Using the Marc Pro For Myokines and Recovery

LAVA Magazine, T.J. Murphy from

Here was a refreshing bit I recently found on in a website FAQ for the electrical muscle stimulation product, Marc Pro: One of the questions reads, “Can Marc Pro build abs or other muscles?”

The answer was this: “No.” It went on to clarify that—after 30 years of being in the industry—EMS technology is effective at speeding recovery and post-exercise rebuilding of tissue, but what it’s not going to do for you is build a six-pack of abs for you while you do little more than sit on a couch.

I got the CEO of Marc Pro, Ryan Heaney, on the phone to help me understand exactly how EMS can or should be used by athletes to gain an advantage.


Do subjective assessments of running patterns reflect objective parameters?

European Journal of Sport Science from

Running patterns are often categorized into subgroups according to common features before data analysis and interpretation. The Volodalen® method is a simple field-based tool used to classify runners into aerial or terrestrial using a 5-item subjective rating scale. We aimed to validate the Volodalen® method by quantifying the relationship between its subjective scores and 3D biomechanical measures. Fifty-four runners ran 30 s on a treadmill at 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18 km h−1 while their kinematics were assessed subjectively using the Volodalen® method and objectively using 3D motion capture. For each runner and speed, two researchers scored the five Volodalen® items on a 1-to-5 scale, which addressed vertical oscillation, upper-body motion, pelvis and foot position at ground contact, and footstrike pattern. Seven 3D biomechanical parameters reflecting the subjective items were also collected and correlated to the subjective scores. Twenty-eight runners were classified as aerial and 26 as terrestrial. Runner classification did not change with speed, but the relative contribution of the biomechanical parameters to the subjective classification was speed dependent. The magnitude of correlations between subjective and objective measures ranged from trivial to very large. Five of the seven objective parameters significantly differed between aerial and terrestrial runners, and these parameters demonstrated the strongest correlations to the subjective scores. Our results support the validity of the Volodalen® method, whereby the visual appreciation of running gait reflected quantifiable objective parameters. Two minor modifications to the method are proposed to simplify its use and improve agreement between subjective and objective measures.


Dartmouth-led team develops smartwatch with all the moves

Dartmouth University from

In an effort to make digital smartwatches more convenient for their users, researchers at Dartmouth College and the University of Waterloo have produced a prototype watch face that moves in five different directions.

With the ability to rotate, hinge, translate, rise and orbit, the model dramatically improves functionality and addresses limitations of today’s fixed-face watches. The concept, named Cito, will be presented on May 10at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Denver, Colorado.

“Users want smartwatches that fit their lifestyles and needs,” said Xing-Dong Yang, assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth. “The Cito prototype is an exciting innovation that could give consumers even more great reasons to wear smartwatches.”


Clinical devices and services: Repair shops

Nature, Nature Research, Liam Drew, Andrew Scott, Branwen Morgan & Karl Gruber from

Advances in materials and techniques are restoring damaged body parts to full function.


ARM Wants to Put Its Chips Inside Your Brain

MIT Technology Review, Michael Reilly from

ARM is getting into the brain game. The U.K. chip designer is one of the biggest players in the computing industry, especially when it comes to mobile devices. But it has now announced that it’s interested in building chips meant to go in between your ears, too.

Brain implants are a hot topic right now. Earlier this year, a fully paralyzed man used a cutting-edge implant to move his arm for the first time in years. Big money is pouring in from investors in Silicon Valley who are trying to walk the fine line between solving tough research problems and building commercially viable products. Tech world A-listers, like Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, are fully aboard the hype train, promising a future in which implants enhance human intelligence and make us effectively telepathic.


Cinematography on the fly – System directs camera-equipped drones to maintain framing of an aerial shot.

MIT News from

In recent years, a host of Hollywood blockbusters — including “The Fast and the Furious 7,” “Jurassic World,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” — have included aerial tracking shots provided by drone helicopters outfitted with cameras.

Those shots required separate operators for the drones and the cameras, and careful planning to avoid collisions. But a team of researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and ETH Zurich hope to make drone cinematography more accessible, simple, and reliable.

At the International Conference on Robotics and Automation later this month, the researchers will present a system that allows a director to specify a shot’s framing — which figures or faces appear where, at what distance. Then, on the fly, it generates control signals for a camera-equipped autonomous drone, which preserve that framing as the actors move.


[1705.06950] The Kinetics Human Action Video Dataset

arXiv, Computer Science > Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition; Will Kay et al. from

We describe the DeepMind Kinetics human action video dataset. The dataset contains 400 human action classes, with at least 400 video clips for each action. Each clip lasts around 10s and is taken from a different YouTube video. The actions are human focussed and cover a broad range of classes including human-object interactions such as playing instruments, as well as human-human interactions such as shaking hands. We describe the statistics of the dataset, how it was collected, and give some baseline performance figures for neural network architectures trained and tested for human action classification on this dataset. We also carry out a preliminary analysis of whether imbalance in the dataset leads to bias in the classifiers.


The New Tommy John Surgery That Could Change Baseball

VICE Sports, Ray Glier from

… In 2012, the same year a record 36 pitchers had the procedure, [Dr. Jeff] Dugas started to wonder if a less invasive surgery were possible. Could there be a repair of the ligament that would cut rehabilitation to five or six months, instead of the usual 12 to 18?

Dugas has an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from North Carolina State, and he decided to put it to use in order to try to find out. If he succeeded, it would change the game.


How Collaboration Leads To Innovation

Block Six Analytics, Adam Grossman from

… The strategy behind establishing an innovation presence is clear. Barcelona has specifically been looking to grow its fan base and revenues in the United States. The team already has an office in New York City, has received approval for an expansion team in the National Women’s Soccer League for the 2018 season, and has developed six soccer academies in the U.S. Its new relationship with Georgetown will also further increase the visibility of its International Champions Cup match versus Manchester United in July in Washington D.C., where Georgetown is located.

The collaboration through Georgetown and its master’s in Sports Industry Management program is potentially more interesting. Students in Masters of Sports Administration (MSA) programs are becoming increasingly interested in entrepreneurship. In particular, innovation in technology, including machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual / augmented reality, wearable devices, and analytics provide many exciting opportunities for new companies. This is one reason I developed the “Entrepreneurship In Sports” class for Northwestern University; American University has a similar course.


Putting the me back in team

The Economist, 1843 Magazine, Ryan Avent from

… If the folks running The Economist were omniscient beings, capable of seeing exactly what everyone had done, then they could design a perfect compensation system to reward people in precise proportion to their contributions. They are not.

That makes the setting of rewards tricky, as Bengt Holmström, who won a share of the Nobel prize for economics in 2016, pointed out. If each person is responsible for lots of tasks, some of which (like writing a piece) are much easier to see and assess than others (like offering suggestions to a colleague), then pay systems which strongly reward individual effort will nudge workers into spending more time on the easily observable stuff and much less on everything else. There is little sense spending time helping others, and neglecting one’s own projects, when the big bonuses are handed out to individuals based on what little the bosses can see. Group rewards have their own risks. When performance bonuses are shared across a team, individual members might be tempted to shirk and let others carry the load, or to spend most of their effort claiming credit for the contributions of others.

There is no easy way around this trade-off.


The Warriors and Spurs are fighting for the soul of the game

ESPN NBA, Kevin Arnovitz from

… How would an organization with a severe allergy to the media deal with a player who thrives on using public platforms to hype himself up, inspire (or rankle) teammates, goad opponents and drive a daily narrative? Would he change its culture of reticence or find comfort in the commonalities — the Spurs’ reliance on humor as a bond, the distaste for isolation basketball, the rabid competitiveness?

The scenario prompts a tricky riddle about NBA culture — does the personnel inform the culture, or does the culture inform the personnel? Had the Spurs drafted LeBron James in 2003 and added Green 10 years later in one of their strokes of late-first/early-second round ingenuity, would Spurs’ culture look entirely different?

“You can say, ‘This is what I want our culture to look like,’ but it’s going to change depending on who your main players are,” Kerr says on the eve of Game 2. “The Spurs have been the Spurs because all of their main guys going back to David [Robinson] and Tim [Duncan] have been smart, quiet, respectful, hard-working, and Kawhi too — baller, no agenda, just wants to get better. So it all kind of works.”


Developing a Research Agenda for the Profession of Kinesiology: A Modified Delphi Study

Translational Journal of the American College of Sports Medicine from

Optimal delivery of health care service requires evidence-based practice by the professionals within their respective fields. Kinesiology recently became a regulated health profession in the Province of Ontario, drawing on principles of movement science in related areas of human clinical and performance disciplines to appropriately guide practice. However, with the addition of kinesiology to the class of regulated health professions, research that specifically guides service delivery and best practice policy is needed. A clear research agenda with identified priorities within the profession of kinesiology that is informed by current practitioners and stakeholders will enhance the discipline by ensuring clinical excellence and scientific relevance. A mixed methods Delphi study for consensus building was used, consisting of four rounds of participant engagement including baseline focus groups, online Delphi survey (two rounds), and final ranking of top research questions. In the final round, Kendall’s W was used to determine agreement among participants on final questions. n = 67 participated in the focus groups, and n = 104, 102, 102 kinesiologists participated in rounds 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Two hundred and eighteen baseline research questions were identified from the focus groups, spanning three thematic areas: clinical skills, education/professional development, and contemporary issues/advocacy for professionals. Following the conclusion of the third round, 32 research questions achieved consensus of “significant importance.” The list of 32 questions was prioritized by respondents to identify the top 10 research questions for professional kinesiology, which reached statistical concordance (W = 0.44, P < 0.001). This is the inaugural research agenda for registered kinesiologists. Consensus-based research priorities identified in this agenda should be considered when designing and allocating resources to professional kinesiology research.


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