Applied Sports Science newsletter – December 9, 2017

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for December 9, 2017


How teenager CJ Cummings could help rescue weightlifting

ESPN, Bonnie D. Ford from

Decimated by doping, weightlifting could face Olympic exile. But one of its brightest hopes is a humble, gifted South Carolina teenager who wants to be part of a new wave of credible winners.


After a strong start to season, Broncos’ Trevor Siemian admits he’s “out-of-sync” and often pressing

The Denver Post, Nicki Jhabvala from

… “I’m good. It happens,” he said Wednesday. “You look around the league, you see quarterbacks take their licks. I feel like I’ve taken my fair share, no doubt. But it’s all on me. I’ve been reckless with the ball at times, made some bad throws. I can own up to that. I’ve got to improve, no doubt.”

As the Broncos’ season has tumbled, there has been a familiar pattern from the offense: Turnovers lead to an early deficit, forcing them to move away from the run game and often prompting Siemian to press to make a big play and stop the bleeding. Often that has backfired, setting the Broncos further into a tailspin with another turnover here, a poor throw there, and before they know it, an even larger deficit.

It’s a vicious cycle the Broncos have been unable to stop since they returned from their Week 5 bye, and one that cost Siemian his starting job midway through the season.


Clint Dempsey relishes playing in MLS Cup after 2016 health scare, Soccer, Brian Straus from

… “Maybe he changed his mentality a little bit. Scary moments can do that,” Sounders midfielder Cristian Roldan told Tacoma’s The News Tribune. “Clint has always been motivated. He just hasn’t shown it. Now he shows it a little bit, and it is incredible to see. He is a guy that is always happy.”

A year ago, as Seattle was surging toward its first MLS Cup title, Dempsey was a passenger, forced to sit and watch as heart trouble threatened his career. Now, he’s enjoying a new lease on his professional life, emerging as a key figure in a championship defense that will culminate Saturday afternoon with a rematch against Toronto FC here at BMO Field. Dempsey technically has an MLS crown to his credit. He tallied eight goals in 17 games in 2016, was at the final and celebrated in the locker room with a medal around his neck. But make no mistake, Dempsey–who also lost two finals as a member of the New England Revolution–is relishing the opportunity to win one on the field, in uniform, and on his terms. He’s relishing it and focused on making the most of it.


After first career start, Bengals rookie LB ready for more

myDayton Daily News, Laurel Pfahler from

… The Bengals might not have gotten Evans had he been to the combine or had any linebackers coaches attended his Pro Day, though. He ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash with special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons and defensive backs coach Robert Livingston in attendance.

“We’re glad he’s here,” Guenther said. “… Maybe he would have gotten more exposure (at the Combine), but that’s why you do your homework and find stuff out about guys and study the tape and trust what you see. He’s a real good cover linebacker. He played a lot there at Oklahoma at a high level. It’s kind of like believing everything you read sometimes. You’ve just got to trust your evaluation and stay true to it.”

The 6-foot-2, 233-pound outside linebacker led the Bengals in tackles this preseason but only played defense in one of the Bengals’ first seven games, while mainly limited to special teams.


Special report: Athletes’ juggle can be a struggle

Athletics Weekly, Anna Boniface from

Are athletes who hold down a full-time job more stressed? Do they get less sleep and how are their social lives affected? Would they give up their careers to become full time athletes if given the opportunity? These are just some of the things I wanted to address in an online survey I conducted this year. I was interested in how many endurance athletes are in full-time work, like I am, and how much they are able to train.

Responses flooded in and while some findings were predictable, there were a few surprises thrown in as well. Around 65% of the athletes who took part in my survey were in full time work, many with demanding careers such as doctors, physiotherapists, teachers, accountants, researchers and surveyors.

Results showed that the most common mileage was 60-100 miles per week (34% of athletes). I know from personal experience that this mileage is in the life-consuming territory.


Special report: How to manage the athletics balancing act

Athletics Weekly, Anna Boniface from

Juggling a job with the demands of training is never easy. Anna Boniface reports on the pressures faced by athletes


What Athletes And Weekend Warriors Need To Know About Heart Rate Variability

SportTechie, Phil Wagner from

… In short, reading the HRV score will yield a better understanding of how the athlete is functioning that given day. The more rested and recovered the athlete is the higher his or her HRV score will be. If the athlete is stressed or over trained, he or she will have a lower HRV score indicating that the sympathetic nervous system is working overtime. These scores take into account all forms of stress such as academics, sleep patterns, or physical stressors brought on by the training itself. The main idea behind collecting this information is to limit, or avoid, overtraining that could potentially lead to injury. We know that acute overreaching is often the time athletes are most at risk for injury, therefore modifying activity allows the coach or athlete to stay one step ahead.


Ryland Morgans: Inside the Wales training camp

Training Ground Guru, Simon Austin from

WALES take on France in the Stade de France tonight. Their Head of Performance, Ryland Morgans, gave TGG an exclusive insight into what goes on in the week prior to a game.


Michigan State’s Holiday Bowl practices ‘crucial for our development’

Detroit Free Press, Chris Solari from

All that remains now is for the Spartans to begin practicing for the Holiday Bowl and a chance to win their 10th game of their turnaround season.

“It’s going to be crucial for our development,” MSU coach Mark Dantonio said Sunday. “I think as much as anything, playing another football game allows our guys to gain great experience. And playing a bowl game against a great opponent gives our guys additional experiences”


New Everton boss Sam Allardyce to hire sports psychologist to help players build on recent revival

Mirror Online (UK), David Maddock from

“If the brain is clear and positive, the player produces a positive performance,” says manager who has watched back-to-back wins in A week


Long haul: How can a 17-hour flight be made more bearable? – The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail, Suzanne Morphet from

As Australia prepares to welcome a 17-hour flight direct to Europe, researchers are putting their minds in the sky with a new clinical trial, measuring how flying affects one’s mental state, anxiety levels, immune function, sleep and jet-lag recovery


Georgia Football Used MuscleSound In SEC Championship Season

SportTechie, Joe Lemire from

… The ultrasound company is relatively new to college football, having worked with Colorado since last year and starting its collaboration with Georgia this fall.

Data provided by MuscleSound showed a sampling of up to eight Georgia players each week to provide a snapshot of the team’s physical preparedness. The Bulldogs received their highest score prior to its second game of the season, a come-from-behind road victory at Notre Dame that not only showed team stamina but also proved decisive in propelling the school toward its eventual No. 3 national ranking and matchup with Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl.


New Rice coach wants old-school, hi-tech football

Houston Chronicle, Glynn A. Hill from

Rice hired Mike Bloomgren to do more than win football games. He’s expected to shift its culture.

For Bloomgren, that starts with implementing a new offensive scheme and tapping under-utilized technology.

After meeting players Wednesday, he emphasized they would have a clean slate. Starter labels and statistics won’t matter.


Interview with Schalke head coach Domenico Tedesco from

For the first time, Spielverlagerung had the opportunity to interview a current Bundesliga head coach. Schalke coach Domenico Tedesco talks about the tactical evolvement of his players and how he involves them in his tactical planning.

Meeting in Gelsenkirchen. Michiel de Hoog of the Dutch website De Correspondent is researching for a story on the young generation of German coaches, who have been called ‘Laptop Coaches’ by some. He wants to know why young outsider without a history as professional players get the chance in Germany, but not in the Netherlands. What’s better than to visit Schalke 04, where sporting director Christian Heidel gave a 32-year-old newcomer the keys to the kingdom? When Michiel meets said newcomer, our author TE accompanies him. We would like to learn how important tactics is in the eyes of Domenico Tedesco, and how he equips his players with the necessary knowledge.


Hawks, Emory Healthcare Cut Ribbon For Opening of Emory Sports Medicine Complex | Atlanta Hawks

Atlanta Hawks from

On Tuesday afternoon, the Atlanta Hawks Basketball Club and Emory Healthcare had a ceremonial ribbon-cutting to celebrate the opening of the Emory Sports Medicine Complex, located at 1968 Hawks Lane in Brookhaven. Construction teams broke ground on the facility on June 24, 2016.


How 2 Kidney Transplants Yielded Real Madrid’s ‘Secret Weapon’

The New York Times, Rory Smith from

Terry Nelson, the inventor of the buoyancy suits used by many of the world’s top clubs and teams, found that training in water helped him move forward after his transplants.


Validity of an ultra-wideband local positioning system to measure locomotion in indoor sports

Journal of Sports Sciences from

The validity of an Ultra-wideband (UWB) positioning system was investigated during linear and change-of-direction (COD) running drills. Six recreationally-active men performed ten repetitions of four activities (walking, jogging, maximal acceleration, and 45º COD) on an indoor court. Activities were repeated twice, in the centre of the court and on the side. Participants wore a receiver tag (Clearsky T6, Catapult Sports) and two reflective markers placed on the tag to allow for comparisons with the criterion system (Vicon). Distance, mean and peak velocity, acceleration, and deceleration were assessed. Validity was assessed via percentage least-square means difference (Clearsky-Vicon) with 90% confidence interval and magnitude-based inference; typical error was expressed as within-subject standard deviation. The mean differences for distance, mean/peak speed, and mean/peak accelerations in the linear drills were in the range of 0.2–12%, with typical errors between 1.2 and 9.3%. Mean and peak deceleration had larger differences and errors between systems. In the COD drill, moderate-to-large differences were detected for the activity performed in the centre of the court, increasing to large/very large on the side. When filtered and smoothed following a similar process, the UWB-based positioning system had acceptable validity, compared to Vicon, to assess movements representative of indoor sports.


Neural Scene De-rendering

Jiajun Wu, Joshua B. Tenenbaum, and Pushmeet Kohli from

We study the problem of holistic scene understanding. We would like to obtain a compact, expressive, and interpretable representation of scenes that encodes information such as the number of objects and their categories, poses, positions, etc. Such a representation would allow us to reason about and even reconstruct or manipulate elements of the scene. Previous works have used encoder-decoder based neural architectures to learn image representations; however, representations obtained in this way are typically uninterpretable, or only explain a single object in the scene.

In this work, we propose a new approach to learn an interpretable distributed representation of scenes. Our approach employs a deterministic rendering function as the decoder, mapping a naturally structured and disentangled scene description, which we named scene XML, to an image. By doing so, the encoder is forced to perform the inverse of the rendering operation (a.k.a., de-rendering) to transform an input image to the structured scene XML that the decoder used to produce the image.


The Next Big Step for AI? Understanding Video

MIT Technology Review, arXiv from

For a computer, recognizing a cat or a duck in a still image is pretty clever. But a stiffer test for artificial intelligence will be understanding when the cat is riding a Roomba and chasing the duck around a kitchen.

MIT and IBM this week released a vast data set of video clips painstakingly annotated with details of the action being carried out. The Moments in Time Dataset includes three-second snippets of everything from fishing to break-dancing.

“A lot of things in the world change from one second to the next,” says Aude Oliva, a principal research scientist at MIT and one of the people behind the project. “If you want to understand why something is happening, motion gives you lot of information that you cannot capture in a single frame.”


Ex-Nokia engineers’ clinical decision support startup helps doctors analyze and treat bone fractures (Updated)

MedCity News, Stephanie Baum from

The cutbacks at Nokia in recent years have prompted former staff with mobile hardware and software experience, design and engineering backgrounds to build their own business or help others launch tech startups. One such business is an early stage clinical decision support business for orthopedics based in Helsinki called Disior.

CEO Anna-Maria Henell worked for 15 years creating virtual simulations and modeling systems for technology research and development organizations. A medical adviser for the business, Dr. Risto Kontio is the chairman of the department for Maxillofacial surgery at the University of Helsinki Hospital.

Disior’s software converts medical images into 3D images covered in a mathematical grid that’s designed to help physicians assess fractures and pinpoint whether an implant is needed, where it should be placed, whether it can be minimized and what movement would look like. Physicians can use the interactive D images to optimize the mechanical stress on the bone and the screw interface, as well.


Aspetar holds first Sports Pharmacy Conference

Gulf Times from

Aspetar has held its first Sports Pharmacy Conference, an event that brought together sports pharmacists, physicians, sports scientists and other healthcare professionals to discuss how to optimise athlete care and advance pharmacotherapy related to sports medicine.

Under this innovative theme, participants tackled the concept of sports pharmacotherapy, constructed an optimised pharmacy practice model, identified essential knowledge and skills, and shared their insights on how to advance sports pharmacy practices, benefiting from Aspetar’s contributions to global research, according to a press statement.

Commenting on the conference, Aspetar’s pharmacy director Dr Manal al-Zaidan said: “This is to our knowledge the first sports pharmacy conference of its kind. It provided an ideal opportunity for Aspetar experts and researchers to join hands with healthcare professionals in sharing insights about sports pharmacy concepts which encompasses the use of drugs in athletics, whether for therapeutics or for performance enhancement, and how to apply enhanced inter-professional collaboration to improve athlete care.”


Anthony Galea, sports doctor to elite athletes, loses licence for nine months

Toronto Star, The Canadian Press, Colin Perkel from

Renowned Canadian sports doctor was widely known for a blood-spinning injury treatment, although prosecutors said some patients received human growth hormone, which is banned by major sports.


The I.O.C. Finally Stops Tiptoeing. And Russia Pays the Price.

The New York Times, Juliet Macur from

So, in came the long-lost integrity police. And out went the Russians. They are barred from the 2018 Games for what I.O.C. President Thomas Bach called an “unprecedented attack on the Olympic Games and sport,” though some to-be-determined number of Russian athletes will get to participate if they can prove some to-be-determined degree of performance enhancing drug-free living.

It took Mr. Bach a year of investigators’ nit-picking through details and documents before he pretty much decided that, well, yes, that initial report was true.

To that, clean athletes everywhere should say, well, finally.

“It’s a good step for clean athletes,” said Lowell Bailey, an American biathlete and current world champion who has been outspoken about doping. “But it’s a dark day for Olympic sport. I think most athletes who compete clean would say that they want the broadest field of competition at the Olympics because that’s just the spirit of competitiveness. No one wants to show up and have a weak field.”

He added: “I’m glad that the I.O.C. has taken these measures, but I do hope that this stands as really a turning point for the defense of clean sport.”


Minn. researchers say student athletes need better education on energy drinks

Duluth News Tribune, Karen Tolkkinen from

A pair of central Minnesota sports medicine researchers aren’t afraid of controversy in tackling popular energy drinks.

They say their research shows college athletes who consume drinks such as Red Bull and Monster have lower grade-point averages and know less about nutrition than college athletes who don’t use energy drinks.

“It’s a little bit of a provocative message,” said Jeff Brand, an orthopedic surgeon with Heartland Orthopedics, an affiliate of Douglas County Hospital in Alexandria.


Why former NHLer Riley Cote wants hockey to embrace cannabis, Dan Robson from

… It was a short career, but one Cote wouldn’t have had at all if he wasn’t willing to throw punches with some of the toughest players in the league. And like many of the players he went punch for punch with, his trade caused him an enormous amount of physical and mental stress.

To deal with that stress, Cote turned to cannabinoids whenever he could.

“I’d quietly use it as an ally of mine. It helped me manage anxiety [and] pain,” he says. “There was no physical addiction. It just made me feel better.”


Are Diets Based on DNA the Next Big Thing?, AC Shilton from

… evidence is mounting that genetic differences matter, especially in some key ways for athletes. For example, “Some studies are now coming out showing that a person’s genotype partly dictates whether they respond favorably to caffeine ingestion,” Wilson says. He points to a 2015 study published in the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports that found different outcomes during a time trial depending on a single gene called CYP1A2. One group did better by rinsing and swallowing the caffeine. The other group did better by straight ingestion.

Since scientists still don’t know the full functionality of all the genes that make up our DNA, we’re probably pretty far from a comprehensive double-helix diet. But, while we wait, many athletes have decided to try to “hack” what their bodies need on their own. That’s why Stevie Smith, a D.C.-based Ironman and registered dietician, tried Inside Tracker, a biomarker measuring service that uses blood tests to optimize performance. Inside Tracker is adding a genetic component to its testing service soon, but even without it, Smith says comparing her biomarkers to those of her mother—who races short course triathlons—has been a good reminder of just how different two athletes’ needs can be. “The biggest differing biomarkers we have are with markers that indicate inflammation in the body and those that are noted to be affected by large training volumes and intensities,” she says. Genetically, Smith and her mom probably share quite a bit of DNA, but because they’re training loads are so different, customization is key.


Peyton: API

GitHub – Throne-AI from

Peyton is a Python library that allows you to interact with the platform for sports prediction. From this library, you can download historical and competition data, user ranking data, and submit predictions.


MLB Pace Has Never Been Slower. Who’s to Blame?

FanGraphs Baseball, Travis Sawchik from

Pitch clocks are likely coming to an MLB stadium near you in 2018, according to a report by Buster Olney from earlier this month.

There’s a practical reason for the introduction of the clock and for the commissioner’s interest in it: the game keeps slowing down. In fact, in the pitch-tracking era — and likely in the history of the sport — the pace of game has never been slower than it was in 2017.


Inside Derby County’s Analysis Department

Hudl Blog, Trevor Hellman from

The Rams have one of the most advanced video analysis departments in English football. Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how their club uses video, from the first team to their academy.


More than what we paid for

21st Club Limited, Omar Chaudhuri from

This week, Sportingintelligence released their annual Global Sports Salaries Survey (GSSS), providing insight into how pay varies across top sports leagues.

The inclusion of average first team pay in the big 5 European leagues means we can, using our World Super League (which ranks teams globally according to how good they are), compare teams on a like-for-like basis and assess which clubs are getting the biggest bang for their buck.

While we often think of small-budget teams overachieving, the three biggest overachievers vs pay were Atlético Madrid, Tottenham and Barcelona, with Getafe and Atalanta – who are in some cases as good as teams paying four times as much – not far behind. For some, wealth has not given way to complacency.


NBA Referee Experience and Home Bias

The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, Henry Johnson from

… o see whether the link between experience and home bias holds for NBA referees, I´ve pulled data from Basketball-Reference, which has officiating data going back to the 1988-1989 season. For each referee in the database, I’ll look at the relationship between career games officiated and homecourt bias. For the purposes of this post, let’s define homecourt bias as fouls called on the away team minus fouls called on the home team. The higher this number is, then, the more bias is shown.


Harrisburg becomes an American soccer science lab with USL team overhaul, Jonathan Tannenwald from

Harrisburg’s USL team is in the midst of a revolution that aims to produce a new kind of player development pathway.

In mid-November, Colorado-based Rush Soccer joined forces with the City Islanders, a team that was the Union’s minor-league affiliate from 2010-15. Rush has 84 youth soccer teams across America and other countries, including Brazil, and more than 40,000 players.


Why Germany’s 50+1 rule is living on borrowed time

These Football Times, Luci Kelemen from

… For all it’s worth, the state of football stadia also serve as a reminder of the stark differences: as Germany prepared for hosting the World Cup in 2006, only Leipzig’s received a facelift from that area of the country – the city where the German Football Federation (DFL) was founded and hosted the first title winner in VfB Leipzig.

Still, perhaps the administrative challenges of the reunification can at least partially explain why so many aspects of the Bundesliga’s inner workings are carefully measured and sanctioned compared to what we see elsewhere in the world. The 50+1 rule, first introduced in 1998, was designed to guarantee the continuation of the fan-based ownership of previous eras, requiring that a minimum of 51 percent of the club must be owned by its members, while still allowing for investment opportunities, nevertheless guaranteeing that the supporters still have a direct say in the matters of management – also, crucially, making sure that a single entity can’t control the whole club.


Browns shift to football acumen over analytics by naming John Dorsey to replace Sashi Brown

ESPN NFL, Tony Grossi from

… Dorsey’s old-school football lineage aligns more compatibly with coach Hue Jackson than did Brown, a Harvard lawyer who, along with baseball Moneyball guru Paul DePodesta, loaded up the Browns’ personnel department with young analytics experts.

Jackson’s battles with Brown over personnel decisions intensified in their second season together. Jackson and other coaches were particularly offset by the influence on personnel matters Brown bestowed on Ken Kovash, who rose from director of research to vice president of player personnel under Brown.

In his afternoon press conference, Jackson said, “Analytics only played a part in what we did. I will be the first to tell you that. Am I a football traditionalist? Yes, I am.”


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