Applied Sports Science newsletter – December 28, 2017

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for December 28, 2017


The Training Characteristics of the World’s Most Successful Female Cross-Country Skier | Physiology

Frontiers in Physiology from

The main aim of this study was to investigate the training characteristics of the most successful female cross-country skier ever during the best period of her career. The participant won six gold medals at the Olympic Games, 18 gold medals at the World Championship, and 110 World Cup victories. Day-to-day training diary data, interviews, and physiological tests were analyzed. Training data was systemized by training form (endurance, strength, and speed), intensity [low- (LIT), moderate- (MIT), and high-intensity training (HIT)], and mode (running, cycling, and skiing/roller skiing), followed by a division into different periodization phases. Specific sessions utilized in the various periodization periods and the day-to-day periodization of training, in connection with altitude camps and tapering toward major championships, were also analyzed. Following a 12-year nonlinear increase in training load, the annual training volume during the five consecutive successful years stabilized at 937 ± 25 h, distributed across 543 ± 9 sessions. During these 5 years, total training time was distributed as 90.6% endurance-, 8.0% strength-, and 1.4% speed-training, with endurance-training time consisting of 92.3 ± 0.3% LIT, 2.9 ± 0.5% MIT, and 4.8 ± 0.5% HIT. Total LIT-time consisted of 21% warm-up, 14% sessions <90 min, and 65% long-duration sessions >90 min. While the total number of LIT sessions remained stable across phases (32 sessions), total LIT-time was reduced from GP (76 h/month) to SP (68 h/month) and CP (55 h/month). MIT-time decreased from GP (2.8 h/month) to SP (2.2 h/month) and CP (1 h/month). HIT-time increased from GP (2.8 h/month) to SP (3.2 h/month) and CP (4.7 h/month). Altitude training accounted for 18–25% of annual training volume and performed across relatively short training camps (≤16 days) with a clear reduction of HIT training, but increased total and LIT volume compared to sea-level training. Training before international championships included a 2-week increase in LIT and strength volume followed by a gradual reduction of training volume and increased HIT during the last week. This study provides unique data on the world’s most successful female cross-country skier’s long-term training process, including novel information about the distribution of and interplay between sessions of different forms, intensities, and exercise modes throughout the annual season. [full text]


Wentz, Watson, Goff, and Garoppolo: Meet the New QB Generation

The Ringer, Kevin Clark from

We won’t see another group like Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning, and Drew Brees ever again, but Jimmy Garoppolo, Deshaun Watson, Jared Goff, and Carson Wentz will do just fine


The Checklist Joel Embiid Must Complete to Stay Active, NBA, Jake Fischer from

The Philadelphia 76ers unwrapped their greatest Christmas gift on Monday morning: franchise center Joel Embiid. After starting the day a game-time decision due to a nagging sore back, Embiid played 34 minutes, dominating the New York Knicks to the tune of 25 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks and three assists. “He’s sort of like a borrowed stud,” head coach Brett Brown said. Embiid doesn’t practice. He receives hours of daily treatment. And roughly 35 minutes before tipoff, Brown receives the final go-ahead that his All-NBA-caliber big man will dress and start. “You inherit him in some games,” Brown said.

The pure uncertainty is remarkable. Perhaps the premier center in the entire league, Embiid is truly questionable every night. “We all step back and you say, ‘Who is he?’” Brown said. “Is he Sabonis, is he Olajuwon, is he Duncan; he can shoot a three, is he Dirk?” Yet on a daily basis, the Sixers simply must ask if Embiid will be ready to play. J.J. Redick had missed Philly’s two previous games before Christmas Day with a hamstring issue. And although he too was deemed questionable for the matinee, there was hardly any doubt that the Sixers sharpshooter would be firing under the Madison Square Garden lights. Embiid meanwhile has to progress through a meticulous series of benchmarks in order to be activated.


Inside the High-Drama World of Youth Competition Dance

The New York Times Magazine, Lizzie Feidelson from

The second time I met Angelina Velardi she had just lost a baby tooth. It left a gaping hole in her smile, but she liked how it looked: “Now if I show the judges I’m mature, they’ll be more impressed,” she said, happily. Angelina is a 12-year-old competitive dancer, and canny to the ways in which technical acuity and preadolescent pliability can be combined to her advantage. She started competitive dancing less than three years ago.

On a Friday afternoon last spring, Angelina and her teammates from Prestige Academy of Dance arrived at a technical high school in Sparta, N.J., for the Imagine National Dance Challenge, a children’s dance competition. Each girl wore her black uniform and sported the team hairstyle, a low bun gleaming with hair spray. Dina Crupi, Prestige Academy’s 25-year-old studio owner and competition-team director, had chosen the hairstyle for its versatility: It allowed various headpieces and hats to be put on and removed with ease. Crupi still had nightmares about last year’s style, a too-complex choice involving a pouf encircled by braids. While she stood sipping coffee, the girls warmed up around her, brushing their fingers against the athletic-gray lobby walls for balance. With their small heads, shellacked scalps and long necks, the teammates looked elegant and creaturely, like a row of lizards.

This was Prestige’s fifth competition this season, and its core team of 52 dancers would enter over 20 dance pieces over the course of the three-day competition.


The science of sleep

HMMR Media, Craig Pickering from

… example, which can keep an athlete up. Caffeine is a commonly used ergogenic aid, especially before competitions, and its use can impact the quality and duration of sleep that the athlete will get after the competition finishes; this is even more true when the competition occurs at night. As competitions tend to occur away from where the athlete lives, there are travel issues that can affect sleep quality and duration; the athlete may have to get up early, either to travel to the competition, or leaving the following day. If staying overnight, the athlete has to sleep in unfamiliar surroundings, which can negatively impact sleep. Time change can also have an impact, even if it is a relatively short change of just an hour. These issues will also be true when it comes to training camps, especially if that camp occurs at altitude, which itself can increase the time taken to fall asleep, and also increase the number of overnight awakenings.

More chronically, normal training can influence sleep. In some sports, such as swimming, athletes are required to train early in the morning, which will negatively impact the time the athlete can sleep. Athletes also tend to like to stay hydrated; this can cause an increase in the number of times they need to use the bathroom, including overnight, disturbing sleep.



In Bed With Maradona blog, Marc Boal from

The recent success of the Icelandic national team has caught the attention of the football world, for a country whose main exports are raw aluminium, fishing and to a lesser extent Bjork and Sigur Ros. How can this remote windswept Atlantic Island produce an overabundance of football riches?

The decision to set up a network of artificial turf pitches was made in the late 1990’s following an “investigative field trip” by the Icelandic FA (KSI) to Norway. The Norwegian FA had invested in a number of full-size indoor artificial pitches, in the north of the country, where the climate offered similar challenges to those experienced in Iceland.

Upon the return of the KSI delegation, a commitment was made to adopt and expand the Norwegian concept. A plan was put in place to build heated indoor “football houses” (knattspyrnuhús in Icelandic) in every town across Iceland and to support them with a network of heated, outdoor, full-size pitches. A third strand to the strategy was to establish mini-size artificial pitches at schools – to ensure anyone, who wants to play, has a facility to use from a young age.


Alabama, Clemson back in playoffs after mass talent exodus

Associated Press, NCAA College Football, John Zenor from

… Alabama arrived at Louis Armstrong International New Orleans airport on damp Wednesday morning to begin their final Sugar preparations. The Tid had to replace seven defensive players drafted within the first four rounds, including first-rounders Marlon Humphrey, Jonathan Allen and Reuben Foster.

The Tigers had seven offensive starters depart, including a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard receiver and 1,000-yard rusher (Wayne Gallman). Only 22.7 percent of the offensive production returned from 2016, less than all but two of 130 FBS teams.

Saban praises the way Alabama players have embraced new roles, and sees similar results from Clemson’s offense led by quarterback Kelly Bryant .

“They have really good players. They recruit well,” Saban said. “And the guys that they’ve had step in on offense have done a fantastic job for them this year, starting with the quarterback. The receivers, the new running backs, those guys have all been very effective for them. They are almost as productive offensively as they were a year ago.”


A Hockey League in the U.S. Attracts Europeans With an Eye on College

The New York Times, Julie Robenhymer from

Jacob Schmidt-Svejstrup came to the United States from Denmark at 14 to attend a boarding school so he could improve his English. The visit was supposed to last only one year.

He was playing on a travel hockey team, and when he saw some of his teammates get drafted into the United States Hockey League, the highest level of junior hockey in the country, he decided to stay.

Five years later, Schmidt-Svejstrup, 19, is leading the U.S.H.L. in scoring with 17 goals and 29 points in 23 games and has a scholarship to play at the University of Maine next season. He is representing Denmark at the men’s world junior championship, which began in Buffalo on Tuesday.


Heart Rate Variability, A Real-Time Method of Health Monitoring: An Interview with Jason Moore of Elite HRV

Medgadget, Alice Ferng from

… HRV is a complex biomarker that acts as a comprehensive “check-engine light” for the body and mind, that is also non-invasive and responsive. More specifically, HRV is measured by calculating the time between R-R spikes on an ECG trace and comparing these values over time. This variation in beat-to-beat interval is a physiological phenomenon that provides a wealth of information about the autonomic nervous system. For example, HRV can help assess the risks for patients who have suffered a heart attack, or to detect significant changes in the nervous systems of athletes after hard training. Therefore, HRV can be used as a tool to monitor overall health or to detect when an athlete has overtrained. Ideally, you would take measurements of your HRV daily so that baseline values can be established, which would allow you to know how your nervous system is doing whenever there is a deviation from that baseline. This way, you can tone things down before the body is overloaded, especially on top of accumulated fatigue.

We are excited to feature an exclusive interview with the CEO and Founder of Elite HRV, Jason Moore. Mr. Moore also teaches about the science and applications of HRV in online courses offered by Elite HRV.


Scientists Are Designing Artisanal Proteins for Your Body

The New York Times, Carl Zimmer from

The human body makes tens of thousands of cellular proteins, each for a particular task. Now researchers have learned to create custom versions not found in nature.


UCLA researchers create skeletal muscle from stem cells

UCLA, Broad Stem Cell Research Center from

UCLA scientists have developed a new strategy to efficiently isolate, mature and transplant skeletal muscle cells created from human pluripotent stem cells, which can produce all cell types of the body. The findings are a major step towards developing a stem cell replacement therapy for muscle diseases including Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, which affects approximately 1 in 5,000 boys in the U.S. and is the most common fatal childhood genetic disease.

The study was published in the journal Nature Cell Biology by senior author April Pyle, associate professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics and member of the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cell Research at UCLA. Using the natural human development process as a guide, the researchers developed ways to mature muscle cells in the laboratory to create muscle fibers that restore dystrophin, the protein that is missing in the muscles of boys with Duchenne.


Fine dining or fast food? Eating’s better in Power Five

Associated Press, Eric Olson from

At Nebraska, athletes dine on specially made entrees such as mahi mahi steaks, bison meatloaf or chicken marsala at the Lewis Training Table.

At Akron, athletic director Larry Williams can only hope his athletes skip the fried stuff at the Robertson Dining Hall buffet and any runs to fast-food restaurants.

The hundreds of millions of dollars that have poured into the Power Five conferences, much of it from television rights fees, have enriched dozens of schools and allowed them to give their athletes the best of everything, right down to what they eat every day. Schools outside the Power Five draw far less revenue and many provide the same dining options available to non-athletes on campus.


Nutritional Interventions to Expedite Recovery in Team Sports: Evidence to Practice

Sport Performance & Science Reports; Matt Jones and Jace Delaney from

Given the frequency and close proximity of competitive fixtures within many team sports at present the need for practitioners to fully understand, and be able to implement efficacious recovery strategies has never been greater. The following technical note aims to elucidate some of the latest research within the area of nutrition and recovery, particularly as it relates to the rapid restoration of energy stores and performance parameters to support recovery with limited time between competition. Here we also reflect on personal experiences during such situations within the English Premier League, World Cup Qualifiers, the NRL and NCAA Division 1 sports, discussing the potential challenges faced by practitioners and suggestions on how best to overcome them. Alongside the technical note there will be a free to download Excel spreashsheet that provides some practical advice to support the efficient application of each of the recommendations.


How many possessions does an NBA lineup need to play before we are confident it is good?

Thomas Bassine, Threes and Layups blog from

Plus-minus data is at the bedrock of a lot of thoughtful NBA analysis. If I tell you that the Celtics have outscored their opponents by 153 points in the 350 minutes that Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Al Horford have shared the court this season (per basketball reference), then you might reasonably conclude that these players are doing something right when they are playing together. At the end of the day, a valuable lineup needs to have a good raw plus-minus score (points scores minus opponents points scored). If a lineup of players is, over time, consistently outscored by the opposing lineups then this lineup cannot be considered effective.

The key question is what exactly does over time mean? One of the problems with looking at raw-plus minus scores for lineups are that they are heavily effected by small sample sizes. Especially early in the season, a good game or two can make an entirely average lineup look like world beaters.

To quantify how many possessions we need to watch to determine if a lineup is truly effective, I went back to intro statistics. Specifically, we need to go over the basics of a method called hypothesis testing.


Engage Student Analysts in a World-Class Performance Analysis Department

Hudl Blog from

Sports clubs at every level face the challenge of finding quality staff to make the most of any new technology at their disposal.

Natasha Patel, head of performance analysis at Southampton FC, explains how they have built strong links with their local university to capitalise on the increasing numbers of analysis degree courses they offer.

“We have a big work placement student programme at Southampton Football Club,” said Patel. “We’ve worked with local universities for the past five years and branched out more nationally as analysis has gotten bigger, not only in undergraduate degrees but also master degrees.”


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