Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 19, 2017

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


Aaron Rodgers on Packers pressure; Jay Cutler a Dolphin, The MMQB, Peter King from

… “I want to play another seven, eight, nine, 10 years,” the 33-year-old Rodgers told me in a quiet locker room Friday afternoon.

Much more about Rodgers and the Packers, and the pressure that lies on them, in a few moments. But news happened Sunday. The quarterback America loves to loathe walked out of retirement and into an impossible dream. Jay Cutler has to find a way to beat New England. That’s only the hardest assignment in football.


How Netflix changed the diet of the Arizona Cardinals’ David Johnson

ESPN NFL, Josh Weinfuss from

There’s a fad spreading through the NFL, and Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson is among the latest to pick it up: a plant-based diet.

After watching two food documentaries on Netflix, Johnson and his wife, Meghan, both adopted a plant-based diet about a month ago. Thus far, according to Johnson, an All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection a year ago, he feels better since (mostly) removing meat from his diet.


Pete Carroll on LT George Fant: ‘He’s a new athlete right now’

Seahawks Wire, Lindsey Wisniewski from

… Carroll continued: “I’m really excited to watch him continue to develop; he does feel different, he feels the power that he’s gained and he knows that he’s more experienced and he knows his confidence is up because of all of that. It’s a pretty good thing for him.”

Fant packed on the muscle over the summer. After playing at 296 pounds his rookie year, the left tackle is up to 320 pounds and feeling the perks of his offseason of strength and conditioning.


Rested Dream forward Angel McCoughtry eyes return to hoops

Associated Press, Andy Buhler from

Angel McCoughtry has no regrets about becoming the latest WNBA player to sit out the season to rest and recover from playing professional basketball year-round.

“I’m not waking up aching, nothing is hurting right now,” said the 30-year-old Atlanta Dream forward. “It’s a good feeling.”


Change of Direction and Agility Tests: Challenging Our Current Measures of Performance.

Strength & Conditioning Journal from



A comprehensive strength testing protocol offers no clinical value in predicting risk of hamstring injury: a prospective cohort study of 413 professional football players | British Journal of Sports Medicine

British Journal of Sports Medicine from

Background Hamstring injuries remain prevalent across a number of professional sports. In football, the incidence has even increased by 4% per year at the Champions League level over the last decade. The role of muscle strength or strength ratios and their association with risk of hamstring injury remain restricted by small sample sizes and inconclusive results.

Purpose The purpose of this study is to identify risk factors for hamstring injury in professional football players in an adequately powered, prospective cohort study. Using both established (isokinetic) and novel (eccentric hamstring test device) measures of muscle strength, we aimed to investigate the relationship between these strength characteristics over the entire range of motion with risk of hamstring injury.

Methods All teams (n=18) eligible to compete in the premier football league in Qatar underwent a comprehensive strength assessment during their annual periodic health evaluation at Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital in Doha, Qatar. Variables included isokinetic strength, Nordic hamstring exercise strength and dynamic hamstring: quadriceps ratios.

Results Of the 413 players included (68.2% of all league players), 66 suffered a hamstring injury over the two seasons. Only isokinetic quadriceps concentric at 300°/s (adjusted for bodyweight) was associated with risk of hamstring injury when considered categorically. Age, body mass and playing position were also associated with risk of hamstring injury. None of the other 23 strength variables examined were found to be associated with hamstring injury.

Conclusion The clinical value of isolated strength testing is limited, and its use in musculoskeletal screening to predict future hamstring injury is unfounded.


The Faster Your Brain Moves The More Time Off You Need, John Rampton from

… On top of getting enough sleep at night, you need to unplug throughout the day because the brain can only focus for 90 to 120 minutes.

It’s all thank to the ultradian rhythm, which is a cycle that is present in our sleeping and waking lives.

There’s even a well-known study of the world’s most prodigious violinists. The study that found similar characteristics to the Nedergaard mice study were present when it comes to music practice.


The NFL Combine 40-Yard Dash: How Important is Maximum Velocity? – PubMed – NCBI

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research from

This investigation analyzed the sprint velocity profiles for athletes who completed the 40-yard (36.6m) dash at the 2016 NFL Combine. The purpose was to evaluate the relationship between maximum velocity and sprint performance, and to compare acceleration patterns for fast and slow athletes. Using freely available online sources, data were collected for body mass and sprint performance (36.6m time with split intervals at 9.1 and 18.3m). For each athlete, split times were utilized to generate modeled curves of distance vs. time, velocity vs. time, and velocity vs. distance using a mono-exponential equation. Model parameters were used to quantify acceleration patterns as the ratio of maximum velocity to maximum acceleration (vmax / amax, or τ). Linear regression was used to evaluate the relationship between maximum velocity and sprint performance for the entire sample. Additionally, athletes were categorized into fast and slow groups based on maximum velocity, with independent t-tests and effect size statistics used to evaluate between-group differences in sprint performance and acceleration patterns. Results indicated that maximum velocity was strongly correlated with sprint performance across 9.1m, 18.3m, and 36.6m (r of 0.72, 0.83, and 0.94, respectively). However, both fast and slow groups accelerated in a similar pattern relative to maximum velocity (τ = 0.768 ± 0.068s for the fast group and τ = 0.773 ± 0.070s for the slow group). We conclude that maximum velocity is of critical importance to 36.6m time, and inclusion of more maximum velocity training may be warranted for athletes preparing for the NFL Combine.


A New Way to Measure the Quality of Your Workouts

Runner's World, Ted Spiker from

I’ve had it up to here* with our outdated system of measuring running achievements. Why is it that you have to run this many miles or this many minutes, and it’s those numbers at the end of a run that determine whether you met or exceeded your expectations. [*hand to chin]

Well, enough is enough. I’m taking matters into my own feet and am going to start expanding my metrics system for running.

From now on, I will not only use the traditional data points to evaluate progress, but also I will weave these terms, phrases, and tests into my training log.


Suns Name Jeff Fish Director of Performance, Head Strength and Conditioning Coach

Phoenix Suns from

The Phoenix Suns have named Jeff Fish as director of performance and head strength and conditioning coach. Fish brings to the Suns’ athletic training staff over 25 years of experience as a performance director and strength and conditioning coach in professional and collegiate sports.

In his role, he will be responsible for strength and conditioning, player performance, nutrition and applied sports science, and will work closely with Senior Vice President of Athlete Health and Performance Aaron Nelson and his staff on injury prevention, rehabilitation and rest/recovery.


Rookie Transition Program only one step in NBA transition |, NBA, Rohan Nadkarni from

Incoming NBA rookies took one step closer to becoming full-blown professionals earlier this week by completing the Rookie Transition Program. The program is something of an orientation process for rookies, who learn the ins and outs of what it means to be in the NBA.

Like all well-meaning corporate initiations, this year’s event followed a theme that included a clever acronym: Be a PRO. (That’s professionalism, responsibility and opportunity.) Activities for the rookies were designed around those pillars, which sought to teach them about how to carry themselves, how to be an ambassador for the league, and how take advantage of their newfound status.

“Some of the things that they are talking to us about, people have talked to us [about] before,” Pistons rookie Luke Kennard said. “But each of these things are important. They are making sure that we have every little detail. Every aspect of what we’re going to go through is being brought up.”


Former soccer standout Drake Davis a ‘premier athlete’ and budding LSU wideout, Christopher Dabe from

… Davis, whose father is former LSU basketball player Lester Earl, came to LSU with a limited football background. He attended four different high schools and devoted much of his early childhood to soccer — a sport at which he was ranked among the top junior players in the U.S.

He attended The Dunham School in Baton Rouge and Mississippi-based St. Stanislaus — that’s where he first met LSU freshman quarterback Myles Brennan — in his first two years of high school.

After a year at Fort Union (Va.) Military Academy for his junior year, he transferred to IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., and decided then to put all his energy into football, he said.


Wyoming Cowboys Josh Allen goes from unknown to No. 1 pick in NFL draft buzz

ESPN College Football, Mark Schlabach from

… In hindsight, sitting out the rest of the 2015 season might have been the best thing that could have happened. Vigen said Allen weighed 215 pounds when he arrived at Wyoming, but it was a “bad 215.” Allen spent the next several months working to get bigger and faster, and his collarbone was fully healed by the time preseason camp came the next year. It was during preseason practices in 2016 when Bohl and Vigen realized how good Allen might be.

Former San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke was watching a Wyoming practice in late August, before the 49ers played an exhibition game at the Denver Broncos. Baalke and a couple of scouts were there to evaluate tailback Brian Hill and a handful of other seniors, but Allen was the one who made the biggest impression.

“Your quarterback could be in an NFL camp right now,” Baalke told Bohl.


What’s Your Heart-Rate Variability? It May Be Time to Find Out

Wall Street Journal, Charles Wallace from

… Endurance athletes, however, aren’t the only ones finding benefits from HRV data. Thanks in part to the availability of accurate heart-rate data on wearable devices, it’s being used in training by soccer, basketball and football players, among others, from the elite to the weekend warrior. Psychologists are using it to train golfers and tennis players to control their heartbeats so they’re calmer under pressure. And some see managing heart-rate variability as a way for nonathletes to deal with stress.

By learning how to control their respiration with slow, rhythmical breaths, people can temporarily increase their heart-rate variability, which some medical experts say can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress and anxiety.


After Josh Rosen’s remarks, Sun Devils admit student-athlete challenges

Arizona Sports 98.7, Craig Morgan from

… Ken Shropshire is the first Adidas Distinguished Professor of Global Sport at ASU, a newly endowed faculty position created with a contribution from Sun Devil Athletics’ partner, Adidas. The new center, which is global in scope, aims to create, support and encourage collaborative, multidisciplinary inquiry and translate complex sports-related research to broad audiences through multiple media platforms, forums and global gatherings.

Shropshire will hold a joint faculty appointment at the W. P. Carey School of Business and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“We want to move the public away from this conversation about better compensation for student-athletes to better education,” said Shropshire, whose book “Miseducation of the Student Athlete: A Manifesto for Change” is due out in November. “Maybe it doesn’t happen in four, five or six years. Maybe it’s 10 so we create a more realistic way for them to focus on both athletics and education, but how do we get them to earn meaningful degrees and to have meaningful direction in life?”


How wearable tech is giving people a sixth sense

The Outline, Erin Stewart from

Are health trackers imparting a permanent psycho-awareness of our bodies?


Effects of inter-limb asymmetries on physical and sports performance: a systematic review. – PubMed – NCBI

Journal of Sports Sciences from

The prevalence of inter-limb asymmetries has been reported in numerous studies across a wide range of sports and physical qualities; however, few have analysed their effects on physical and sports performance. A systematic review of the literature was undertaken using the Medline and SPORT Discus databases, with all articles required to meet a specified criteria based on a quality review. Eighteen articles met the inclusion criteria, relating participant asymmetry scores to physical and sports performance measures. The findings of this systematic review indicate that inter-limb differences in strength may be detrimental to jumping, kicking and cycling performance. When inter-limb asymmetries are quantified during jumping based exercises, they have been primarily used to examine their association with change of direction speed with mixed findings. Inter-limb asymmetries have also been quantified in anthropometry, sprinting, dynamic balance and sport-specific actions, again with inconsistent findings. However, all results have been reported using associative analysis with physical or sport performance metrics with no randomised controlled trials included. Further research is warranted to understand the mechanisms that underpin inter-limb differences and the magnitude of performance changes that can be accounted for by these asymmetries.


Wearables basketball: Connected tech for aspiring basketball players

Gadgets & Wearables, Marko Maslakovic from

… At the moment, the NBA does not allow the use of wearable technology during official games. This is in contrast to the MLB which has approved a number of devices for use during games. Nevertheless, when training, professional basketball teams are using hi-tech body-monitoring devices to track workloads and movement in the name of injury prevention.

Luckily, you don’t need to wait for the NBA to jump onto the wearables bandwagon. Read on for our overview of connected basketball tech you can use today.


Georgia Tech’s Josh Pastner Uses VR During Recruiting Visits

SportTechie, Avery Yang from

Georgia Tech men’s basketball coach Josh Pastner is implementing virtual reality into his recruiting process.

Pastner has brought virtual reality goggles to his recruiting visits, which are able to show potential commits what it’s really like to live, work and play at Georgia Tech and in Atlanta. The goggles add distinctive flair to the visits, as recruits are able to experience, in 360 degrees virtual reality, Georgia Tech’s basketball facilities, potential living spaces, and a courtside seat to a Yellow Jackets basketball game. The technology was developed by Foundry 45, a VR company based out of Atlanta.


The smart patch that monitors your sweat

adigaskell, The Horizons Tracker from

… One company that’s attempting to move such thinking from lab to market are San-Francisco based startup Kenzen. They’ve developed a peel-and-stick sensor that evaluates your sweat to provide predictive analytics for your sports performance.

The system revolves around a biosensor that the company call the Echo Smart Patch. It’s designed to be worn all of the time and provide real-time analysis of your sweat. The metrics returned include your hydration levels, calories burned, electrolyte balance and glucose levels.

The sensor is worn a bit like a heart rate monitor and fits on the rib cage. It connects to an app on your phone via Bluetooth, and will send smart alerts to the user if their readings drop too low. The company have developed all of the technology, including the AI engine that analyzes the data. It


Biosensing Chewing Gum for Oral Disease Detection: Study

The Scientist Magazine®, Aggie Mika from

In a study published today (August 15) in Nature Communications, researchers demonstrate that a chewing gum equipped with a biosensor can be used to detect signs of oral disease.

Their sensor is triggered by certain disease-associated enzymes in the chewer’s saliva. These enzymes—matrix metalloproteinases—break the sensor apart by targeting the protease-cleavable fragment of the sensor. This frees a bitter taste-inducing substance.

The researchers tested their sensor on patients’ saliva, both from 19 patients with peri-implant disease and 14 healthy patients with non-diseased implants. Peri-implant disease is a disorder of modern dentistry, generally described as inflammation in the area surrounding a dental implant.


Premier League 2017-18: Player tracking, VR matches and connected stadiums

Wareable (UK), Tom Wiggins from

… “The latest motion analysis circuits are the size of a microSD card,” [Istvan Godon] told us. “The coin battery supplying the power is the largest component, and even the most complex sensors are only about the size of a matchbox. 5G will play an important role in providing a common platform that will be able to collect the various sensory data [from them].”

But clubs aren’t currently allowed to access data from wearables until after the final whistle. With the introduction of 5G, however, live data from wearable sensors could be crucial in injury prevention – and denying coaches and physios that information would not only be unfair on the clubs, but more importantly the players who work so hard to stay fit.


Exclusive: Google buys Seattle health monitoring startup Senosis, bolstering digital health push – GeekWire

GeekWire, John Cook from

… [Shwetak] Patel, who founded Senosis Health with four other clinicians, researchers and tech transfer experts from the University of Washington, won a MacArthur genius grant in 2011 and his past innovations have ranged from energy meters to air quality sensors.

With Senosis, Patel and his team of about a dozen engineers and physicians took on a bigger challenge: Turning smartphones into monitoring devices that collect health metrics to diagnose pulmonary function, hemoglobin counts and other critical health information.

The company’s apps – including SpiroSmart and SpiroCall, HemaApp and OsteoApp – were under review by the Food and Drug Administration earlier this year when GeekWire first wrote about the novel concept. At the time, Patel seemed especially bullish on the idea of using the enhanced cameras, accelerometers and microphones of modern-day smartphones as a new type of health care diagnostic tool.


The Future of Footy: Rehab and recovery

YouTube, Deakin University from

Watch as ESPN discusses the cutting edge approaches being taken to rehabilitation and recovery with John Leyden, the Geelong Cats Academy Strength and Conditioning Coordinator.


US study sparks calls for register of Australian sports injuries

The New Daily (AU), Sarah McPhee from

Australia must develop a national register for sports injuries if it is to uncover serious patterns of trauma as the US has done with its footballers, a senior researcher says.

A study published on Tuesday in US medical journal JAMA found signs of the degenerative brain disease CTE in 99 per cent of former National Football League (NFL) players who donated their brains to the research.

Dr Lauren Fortington, from the Australian Centre for Research into Injury in Sport and its Prevention (ACRISP), is pushing for a national log of sporting injuries to help inform and evaluate current safety measures.


New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton need more damage control

ESPN NFL, Mike Triplett from

Firing the team orthopedists was a jarring and probably necessary move by coach Sean Payton after an embarrassing turn of events at New Orleans Saints camp this week.

But Payton and the altered medical staff will have to do even more damage control to ensure they don’t lose the trust of the locker room after cornerback Delvin Breaux’s misdiagnosis turned into such a mess.


This New Online Primary Care Service Focuses On Runner’s Health, Running, Amanda Loudin from

… Adam St. Pierre, a 35-year-old endurance coach from Boulder, Colo., has also experienced frustration from the healthcare system, although for different reasons. “Living in Boulder, we have a good network of physicians who understand runners,” he says. “But getting an appointment quickly isn’t easy, so you end up waiting to address the issue.”

St. Pierre, however, has found a modern-day solution to the problem, a recently launched online primary care system called SteadyMD. The best part, he says, is that among the areas of care is one designed just for runners.

The new primary care service, which is just beginning to onboard running patients, is the brainchild of Yarone Goren, COO, and Guy Friedman, CEO. The two launched the site last winter as a boutique service that allows patients to develop long-term, preventative care relationships with physicians who understand their particular needs. Niche platforms include fitness and lifting, functional fitness, strength training and power lifting, LGBTQ, and most recently, running.


Sports and ACL Injuries: MOON ACL Reconstruction Award Winning Study

Rick Wright, Sports and ACL Injuries blog from

At the AOSSM Annual Meeting the 10 year outcomes for the MOON Group were presented by Kurt Spindler MD. The study won the AOSSM O’Donoghue Award for best clinical study for 2017. The MOON Group is a 7 site study focusing on primary ACL reconstructions.

Findings in this study of 1592 ACL reconstructions with 83% follow up showed several factors impacting the IKDC and KOOS Sports and Recreation and KOOS Quality of Life with worse scores. These included: Grade 3 and 4 cartilage wear in any compartment, previous medial meniscectomy, revision ACL reconstruction, higher BMI, smoking, reoperation or subsequent surgery and lower baseline scores.


Good hydrations: From water to wine, how drinks affect health

New Scientist from

We swallow 1.7 litres of fluids on average a day – and with them a lot of myths about what is, and isn’t good for us


Marijuana and Its Effects on Athletic Performance: A Systematic Review. – PubMed – NCBI

Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine from


To determine the effects of marijuana on athletic performance.

We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, AMED, and SPORTDiscus from their beginning to September 2016. Study quality was assessed using the Cochrane collaboration tool for assessing risk of bias and the Cochrane GRADE scale. No meta-analyses were performed for this review.

Subjects in a track, gym, or recreational ward.

Any primary study which included male and female adults of any athletic background between ages 18 and 65, with no other comorbid conditions.

Any primary study which used marijuana cigarettes and included a control group.

Vital signs, pulmonary measures, physical work capacity, grip strength, and exercise duration were determined to be relevant outcomes.

Three trials examined marijuana and its effects on athletic performance. Two trials had a high risk of bias and 1 trial had an unclear risk of bias. The effect of marijuana on outcomes including heart rate, blood pressure, and exercise duration remains unclear. Low quality evidence suggests that treatment, sham, and inactive control groups do not have a significant difference for grip strength. Low quality evidence suggests that there is an ergogenic effect of treatment demonstrated by increased bronchodilation and FEV1 compared with inactive control and that there is an ergolytic effect of treatment demonstrated by decreased physical work capacity compared with sham and inactive control groups.

Because the number and quality of studies was low, the effects of marijuana on athletic performance remain unclear.


How Driscoll’s Reinvented the Strawberry | The New Yorker

The New Yorker, Dana Goodyear from

The berry behemoth turned produce into a beauty contest, and won.


Sugar and Protein Don’t Get Along

Breaking Muscle, Andy Peloquin from

According to a new study from the USDA-Agricultural Research Service Grand Forks, Human Nutrition Research Center has a clear answer: it definitely can.

Sugar-sweetened drinks tend to reduce fat oxidation after your meals by an average of 8% per meal. This means your body has a harder time breaking down fat molecules (both stored and dietary) when you eat. Ultimately, this leads to an increase in stored fat and a decrease in expended energy.

But when you pair sugar with a high protein meal, that’s when things get bad. Just a 15% protein meal can lead to a significant decrease in fat oxidation (7.2 grams). If it’s a high-protein meal (up to 30%), fat oxidation decreases even further, to 12.6 grams. And the effects don’t stop there.


BLOG: Expected assists in context

OptaPro, Tom Worville from

“Expected assists measures the likelihood that a pass will be a primary assist. The model is based on the finishing location of the pass, what type of pass it was and a variety of other factors. This model is not reliant on whether a shot was taken from this pass, so credits all passes, regardless of whether they result in a shot.”

This blog outlines the process behind this model, as well as explaining how it can be valuable in evaluating performance.


How to share data for collaboration

PeerJ Preprints, Shannon E Ellis and Jeffrey T Leek​ from

“Within the statistics community, a number of guiding principles for sharing data have emerged; however, these principles are not always made clear to collaborators generating the data. To bridge this divide, we have established a set of guidelines for sharing data. In these, we highlight the need to provide raw data to the statistician, the importance of consistent formatting, and the necessity of including all essential experimental information and pre-processing steps carried out to the statistician. With these guidelines we hope to avoid errors and delays in data analysis.”


Doing Data Science Right

Instacart, Jeremy Stanley from

Doing Data Science Right — Your Most Common Questions Answered explains why data science is so important for many startups, when companies should begin investing in it, where to put data science in their organization and how to build a culture where data science thrives.

If you are curious to learn more about how data science is set up at Instacart, read on! We will walk through each of the big questions in the article, and explain how data science at Instacart has handled the topic.


High School Sports Participation Increases for 28th Straight Year, Nears 8 Million Mark

National Federation of State High School Associations from

… Competitive spirit registered the largest increase among girls sports with an additional 18,712 participants, followed by outdoor track and field (8,508), volleyball (8,470), soccer (6,810) and lacrosse (5,423).

“As we celebrate the 45th anniversary of Title IX this year, this report on girls participation numbers underscores the significance of that important decision in 1972,” said Bob Gardner, NFHS executive director. “It is great to see an ever-increasing number of girls taking advantage of that opportunity to compete in high school sports.”


Soccer Capital: Lure of London, and Its Money, Reshape Premier League

The New York Times, Rory Smith from

… Another consultant to foreign investors into English soccer put it more bluntly: London, he said, acts as a “giant magnet to money.” Increasingly, that magnet is powerful enough to bend and shape the very landscape of the Premier League.

Ten years ago, on the eve of the 2008-9 season, six teams in English soccer’s top division came from the capital and its general vicinity. Nine, by contrast, hailed from England’s North West, representing not only the powerhouses of Manchester and Liverpool, but also towns like Blackburn, Wigan and Bolton. Soccer’s other traditional heartlands — the Midlands, around Birmingham, and Yorkshire and the North East, home of Newcastle and Sunderland — took up the remaining five spots.


How baseball agents are negotiating the gap in information and analytics in MLB –, R.J. Anderson from

… The ongoing data revolution has obscured a simple fact. With teams receiving improved information, their greatest competitive advantage is perhaps no longer over one another. Rather, the information gulf now resides between the teams and the players — or, precisely, the players’ agents. With the league investing in new data sources, like Statcast, the gap could continue to grow.

The agents know it, too.

“The intelligence level on that side has grown, and that’s the difference,” Octagon Baseball statistical analyst Rod Blunck told CBS Sports. “The effort that teams are making to know more about the sport is on a different level than the agents’ side.”


xG is on TV. Now What?

StatsBomb, Ted Knutson from

… This is where you have to be really careful in making claims about what single shot xG numbers do and do not convey. The analytics community are all guilty of treating these as defaults, largely because the venue where we usually discuss these things is limited to 140 characters. That doesn’t allow much room for caveats. In reality, every tweet about xG values of single shots or even single games comes with a whole host of legal fine print that no one really cares about except the data scientists.

However… since this is going to be on TV, some caution is advised.


The NFL Position That Everyone’s Talking About in 2017

OZY, The Huddle, Michelle Bruton from

… There’s no question that Atlanta got some nice production out of [Patrick] DiMarco in its 2016 passing game. In fact, DiMarco looked so good with the Falcons that the Buffalo Bills made him the highest-paid player at his position in free agency this offseason, offering him a four-year, $8.4 million contract — until the San Francisco 49ers blew that number out of the water in March when they agreed to pay fullback Kyle Juszczyk $21 million over four years.

What’s going on? Aren’t fullbacks a dying breed in the NFL? Well, not if they can play the H-back role that many NFL teams are now scrambling to incorporate into their offenses.


How former Liverpool men influenced Crystal Palace manager’s decisions on backroom staff

Croydon Advertiser (UK), Robert Warlow from

Frank de Boer has admitted that he had to disappoint some people he has worked with before, such was the quality of the backroom staff on his arrival at Crystal Palace.

The former Ajax and Inter Milan head coach has brought in two new faces to the management team at Palace, with ex-Sheffield Wednesday midfielder Orlando Trustfull joining as his assistant and Alessandro Schoenmaker coming in as performance coach.

But de Boer says that while he would normally bring in five members of staff to accompany him at a new club, he did not feel the need to at Palace, such was the quality of people like former Liverpool men Ryland Morgans and Sammy Lee, who joined the Eagles during Sam Allardyce’s time in charge as head of performance and assistant respectively.


US men’s basketball enters a new world _ without its stars

Associated Press, Brian Mahoney from

… Jeff Van Gundy coached in the NBA Finals and is analyst for them every year on ABC, but he’s leading the U.S. team as an international basketball rookie. He is busy brushing up on the nuances of a game that can be played and officiated completely differently than in the U.S.

He begins Thursday in Houston for training camp, where he will seek the 12 players who will travel to Uruguay and possibly Argentina for the AmeriCup and the potentially better-prepared opponents who wait.

“What we have to do is match and exceed their passion, how hard we play, how together we are as a group,” Van Gundy said, “because when the U.S. has not succeeded in international competitions, it’s because there wasn’t as much maybe sacrifice as you need, or maybe you were deficient in one skill that was important.”


Oy, oy captain! Picking captains can give coaches headaches

Associated Press, Ralph D. Russo from

… Captain selection is yet another thing that worries coaches. Most put it in the hands of the players before the season starts and hope for the best. Some coaches try to eliminate the headache by having weekly captains — or none at all.

Captains usually reflect a team’s leadership, and leadership problems can sink a season.

“If you’re not careful, voting for captains is a popularity contest,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “And the players vote for who the best player is. It’s not who makes the people around them better.”


Young Players Are Leading the Rise in Three True Outcomes

FanGraphs Baseball, Craig Edwards from

… Over the last couple years, though, we’ve also seen another big rise in homers — a product, it seems, both of a fly-ball revolution and potentially juiced ball. We’ve also witnessed the aforementioned growth of the strike zone begin to stagnate, perhaps even to reverse.

The combination of the strikeouts with the homers over the last few years has led to its own sort of trend: an emergence of hitters who record a lot of strikeouts, walks, and homers — each of the three true outcomes, in other words — without actually hitting the ball in play all that often.

The players responsible for this development are the sort who swing and miss frequently while refusing to offer at pitches on which they’re unable to do damage. To get a sense of who I mean, here’s a list of the top-10 players this season by percentage of plays ending in one of the three true outcomes.


Why Don’t Soccer Stars Sign Contracts Like LeBron James and Kevin Durant?

The Ringer, Ryan O'Hanlon from

… “Players still hugely value the security of contracts, even when they have significant negotiating power,” said Omar Chaudhuri, head of football intelligence at the consulting firm 21st Club. “It’s probably a loss-aversion thing, where the fear of getting a worse contract because of a slump in form outweighs the hope of an improved contract either at their current club or a new team after good performance.”

When players want to leave their current clubs, their pleas are often met with some form of the following comment: “Well, then you shouldn’t have signed a contract.”

In the future, maybe they won’t.


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