Applied Sports Science newsletter – May 25, 2017

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for May 25, 2017


Going Long: An Interview with Kate Grace

Medium, the morning shakeout, Mario Fraoli from

Take me back to the beginning of your running career, or as close to the beginning as possible. How’d you first get into running and what was your initial exposure to the sport?

I was a soccer player. I feel like everyone who’s a mid-distance runner was a soccer player. I played soccer and [running] was part of our training. In California, soccer is a winter sport and we can run cross country [in the fall]. I went out for the cross country team when I was a freshman. That was training for varsity soccer — we would go and run cross country. That was my first experience in a race setting, and I got to know my coach and some teammates who suggested that I continue to come out for running.

It took me maybe two years until I made the transition. Sometime at the end of my sophomore year is when I became more of a track athlete versus soccer player, even though I did continue playing soccer throughout high school. I was a runner in high school and I ran in college, but I wouldn’t say… I don’t know, there was less access to the online running community, or I just wasn’t seeking it out, but I definitely didn’t consider myself knowledgeable in the sport and/or a player in the sport until after college.


Kids need to work, eat, rest and play

Mick Hughes Physiotherapy from

When it comes to injury prevention (performance enhancement), simple is always best. Here are 2 perfect examples of what happens when you dont get the basics right.

In a study of elite adolescent athletes (15-19 years) it was found that a “perfect storm” of increased training intensity, increased training load and less than 8 hours sleep per night resulted in a 2.3x greater risk of sustaining an injury (acute or overuse) compared to athletes who had no change in these variables (von Rosen et al, 2017).


Why is Your Teenager Acting So Weird? Let a Neurobiologist Explain

KQED Future of You, Julia Scott from

… Teenagers do have frontal lobes, which are the seat of our executive, adult-like functioning like impulse control, judgment and empathy. But the frontal lobes haven’t been connected with fast-acting connections yet. The brain actually connects regions from the back of the brain to the front, so the last place to have these fast-acting connections is the frontal lobe.

But there is another part of the brain that is fully active in adolescents, and that’s the limbic system. And that is the seat of risk, reward, impulsivity, sexual behavior and emotion.


How to be a great (CS) teacher

Medium, Andy J. Ko from

… If students are failing a CS class, it’s because of one or more of the following: 1) they didn’t have the prior knowledge you expected them to have, 2) they aren’t sufficiently motivated by you or themselves, 3) your class lacks sufficient practice to help them learn what you’re teaching. Corollary: just because they’re passing your class doesn’t mean you’re doing a great job teaching: they may already know everything you’re teaching, they may be incredibly motivated, they may be finding other ways to practice you aren’t aware of, or they may be cheating.

To prevent failure, one must design deliberate practice, which consists of: 1) sustained motivation, 2) tasks that build on individual’s prior knowledge, 3) immediate personalized feedback on those tasks, and 4) repetition.


Resilience and sport: Neurophysiology and readiness, rather than mental toughness and grit

Medium, John Sullivan from

Finding ways in which athletes can be ready for the demands of sport training and competition is paramount for success. The scope of this summary will clarify the importance of why we need to depart from concepts of ‘mental toughness’ and ‘grit’ and, instead, focus on understanding neurophysiology and readiness to create opportunities for managing athlete health and performance throughout cycles of training and competition.


Why Effective Practice Is Just As Important As the Hours of Practice

KQED, MindShift, Katrina Schwartz from

… To get the most out of practicing it must be consistent, intensely focused, and target the edge of one’s ability. That’s why educators target the zone of proximal development in every learner. There are several things individuals can do to make practicing more effective:

1. Focus when engaged in practice
2. Minimize distractions
3. Start slow and increase speed later
4. Practice repeatedly with frequent breaks
5. Visualize the skill to help reinforce practice


In ‘Enormous Success,’ Scientists Tie 52 Genes to Human Intelligence

The New York Times, Carl Zimmer from

In a significant advance in the study of mental ability, a team of European and American scientists announced on Monday that they had identified 52 genes linked to intelligence in nearly 80,000 people.

These genes do not determine intelligence, however. Their combined influence is minuscule, the researchers said, suggesting that thousands more are likely to be involved and still await discovery. Just as important, intelligence is profoundly shaped by the environment.

Still, the findings could make it possible to begin new experiments into the biological basis of reasoning and problem-solving, experts said. They could even help researchers determine which interventions would be most effective for children struggling to learn.


22-Year-Old Lidar Whiz Claims Breakthrough

IEEE Spectrum, Philip E. Ross from

Lidarland is buzzing with cheap, solid-state devices that are supposedly going to shoulder aside the buckets you see revolving atop today’s experimental driverless cars. Quanergy started this solid-state patter, a score of other startups continued it, and now Velodyne, the inventor of those rooftop towers, is talking the talk, too.

Not Luminar. This company, which emerged from stealth mode earlier this month, is fielding a 5-kilogram box with a window through which you can make out not microscopic MEMs mirrors, but two honking, macroscopic mirrors, each as big as an eye. Their movement—part of a secret-sauce optical arrangement—steers a pencil of laser light around a scene so that a single receiver can measure the distance to every detail.


Determining application-specific peak power and energy requirements for ultra-low power processors

Adrian Colyer, the morning paper from

We’re straying a little bit out of The Morning Paper comfort zone again this morning to look at one of the key hardware issues affecting the design of IoT devices: how much energy they use, and the related question of their peak power requirements. Why is this interesting? Firstly, there are way more ultra-low power (ULP) based devices out there than you might imagine. And secondly, since we can’t accurately gauge the energy and peak-power requirements, we tend to over provision, leading to larger, heavier systems than we could otherwise build. Cherupalli et al. demonstrate a technique that gives much more accurate estimates of peak power and energy requirements, with tighter bounds. By understanding these requirements in detail, the results can also be used to guide optimisations that reduce power usage. We’ll get to all that soon, but first we need to dig a little deeper into the world of ULP devices.


Stretchable Electronic Patch for Infants in Clinical Trials

IEEE Spectrum, Jeff Hecht from

… [John] Rogers calls the technology “epidermal electronics.” Resembling a child’s temporary tattoo, it would be only about five micrometers thick, imperceptible when applied to the skin, biocompatible, and as stretchable and flexible as the skin itself. He wants to use it for clinical sensing including heartbeat, blood oxygen levels, hydration, and blood flow near the surface.

Conventional wafer-based electronics are much too rigid, he told the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics in San Jose last Wednesday. Silicon nanomembranes only tens of nanometers thick are more flexible, and it’s possible to make circuits that thin. However, that’s not enough. “You can’t make semiconductors thin enough to stretch,” he said.


Football: A deep dive into the tech and data behind the best players in the world

Ars Technica UK, Sebastian Anthony from

S.L. Benfica—Portugal’s top football team and one of the best teams in the world—makes as much money from carefully nurturing, training, and selling players as actually playing football. Football teams have always sold and traded players, of course, but Sport Lisboa e Benfica has turned it into an art form: buying young talent; using advanced technology, data science, and training to improve their health and performance; and then selling them for tens of millions of pounds—sometimes as much as 10 or 20 times the original fee.

Let me give you a few examples. Benfica signed 17-year-old Jan Oblak in 2010 for €1.7 million; in 2014, as he blossomed into one of the best goalies in the world, Atlético Madrid picked him up for a cool €16 million. In 2007 David Luiz joined Benfica for €1.5 million; just four years later, Luiz was traded to Chelsea for €25 million and player Nemanja Matic. Then, three years after that, Matic returned to Chelsea for another €25 million. All told, S.L. Benfica raised more than £270 million (€320m) from player transfers over the last six years.


double pass – FC Dallas

double pass from

Double pass has been assessing and supporting the USSF Development Academies of MLS and non MLS clubs in the season 2015-2016.

MLS Soccer clubs’ owners often question whether youth development must be seen as a return on investment rather than a cost.

The graph below from KPMG Football Benchmark shows that FC Dallas had the most points in the regular MLS 2016 season whilst having the lowest payroll of all MLS clubs.


Ten years into Major League Soccer’s push, room for improvement defines the league’s development project.

FourFourTwo, Paul Tenorio from

For nearly the last decade, Major League Soccer has promoted its homegrown program as a league-led initiative that will drive both the league’s growth and that of U.S. Soccer by developing talent within its own borders.

The program has matured significantly since the first Homegrown Player signed in 2008. The returns, however, have not yet been as fruitful as hoped. Part of that is rooted in the fact that MLS academies, unlike most in the world, have had only a short amount of time to grow and produce players.

Most MLS academies are only a decade old, which means Homegrown Players signed at the start of the program had not truly been developed at those clubs. After a decade of work and with a true foundation now in place, however, players like the New York Red Bulls’ Tyler Adams, FC Dallas’ Kellyn Acosta and Portland Timbers’ Marco Farfan represent the next frontier in Homegrown Players: those who spent their formative years in an MLS team’s academy system.


Counting down the 5 best academies in Major League Soccer

FourFourTwo, Scott French from

… Only a handful of homegrown signings have made a real impact in the league, but that’s changing as the system matures. There’s considerable young talent increasingly bidding for playing time, and the pool in the academies is deeper and more promising.

Academies have produced success stories in the league, with clubs, naturally, more adept at developing talent than others. Here are MLS’s five biggest academy successes:



Baseball’s Toughest (and Easiest) Schedules So Far

FanGraphs Baseball, Eno Sarris from

When you look up and see that the Athletics are in the midst of a two-game mid-week series against the Marlins in late May, you might suspect that the major-league baseball schedule is simply an exercise in randomness. At this point in the campaign, that’s actually sort of the case. The combination of interleague play and the random vagaries of an early-season schedule conspire to mean that your favorite team hasn’t had the same schedule as your least favorite team. Let’s try to put a number on that disparity.


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