Applied Sports Science newsletter – March 17, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for March 17, 2018


Doc: Think you have Joey Votto figured out? You have no idea.

Cincinnati Enquirer, Paul Daugherty from

The baseball player whose statistics are redefining how we identify hitting greatness never looks at his statistics. Between Opening Day and October, a Tibetan monk has a better chance of knowing Joey Votto’s numbers than Joey Votto does.

“It’s too stressful,’’ he says.

He’d love it if ballpark video-board operators didn’t post his stats when he came to the plate. “Drives me crazy,’’ he allows. He doesn’t read about himself or watch ESPN about himself because he knows the media will dwell on his numbers.

“I don’t ever want the numbers to give me a ceiling (or) give me a false sense of comfort. Like I’ve made it. The numbers are a reflection of the immediate past. If I’m looking at the past, I’m not seeing the present,’’ says Votto.


Bears Are Gambling on Allen Robinson’s Potential Even After His ACL Tear, NFL, Conor Orr from

… I thought our Andy Benoit nailed it in his NFL free agency guide and tracker when he noted that Allen’s greatest strength is down the field and toward the sideline. It’s a place where the best wide receivers win the ball, and Benoit noted that some NFL team would risk a large sum of money to find out if he could do that even after a devastating knee injury.


After signing with Legia Warsaw, Iloski seeks ambitious goals

American Soccer Now, Brian Sciaretta from

As a college player with UCLA, Iloski was talented but struggled with injuries. After a disappoiting MLS draft, his fortunes changed with a contract offer from Poland’s biggest club, now the California native is determined to take advantage of the opportunity.


LaMarcus Aldridge Finally Opens Up

VICE Sports, Michael Pina from

… The very first question I ask doesn’t catch him off guard: Are you surprised to be here?

“I wouldn’t say I had doubt,” Aldridge begins. “I knew I’d have to have some things fall into place and I’d have to refine myself and kind of work with [Gregg Popovich] and the organization on how I could be the player I was in this system.

“I knew some work had to be done. I wouldn’t say I doubted it, but I knew a lot of things had to be worked on and I took my responsibility and I went home and got healthy and worked hard and made sure I came back with the right mentality. Pop and the organization then did their thing to try and let me be myself. So I wouldn’t say I doubted it, but I knew a lot of things had to be done. I knew it was going to be tough.”

In his 12th season, Aldridge’s renaissance has been muffled by several factors, from his unfair standing as an increasingly useless and persistently boring mid-range craftsman to the simple fact that over the past dozen years he hasn’t showed any explicit desire to reveal himself the way most famous people do.


A healthy Sam Bradford is what Cardinals are counting on — for one year at least – Arizona Cardinals Blog- ESPN

ESPN NFL, Josh Weinfuss from

… When he’s healthy, Bradford can be quite good despite a 34-45-1 career record. He’s a career 62.5 percent passer with a 1.77 touchdown-to-interception rate. He has a touch that can’t be taught and the ability to make this year’s Cardinals offense, based around running back David Johnson and wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a contender in the NFC West. He could also be the ideal quarterback to mentor and help groom a rookie for the future.

In short, he could be the perfect bridge quarterback for a team that’ll pick No. 15 overall in April’s draft. And if the Cardinals want him back in 2019, they’ll have the ability to exercise an option on his contract for another $20 million.

Of course, that’s all contingent on whether Bradford can stay healthy. And that’s a big if.

No, make that a massive if.


Effect of the Game Time Schedule under the Physical Performance of Professional Soccer Players

International Journal of Sports Science from

The physical performance of soccer players is multifactorial, among these, the game schedule seems to be a factor to be considered, after all, the time of the day in which the match is played, either daylight or nightfall, can influence directly on their performance. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the influence of game time has on the physical performance of professional soccer players in relation to distance traveled and intensity of effort during game play. In order to do so, 24 professional players from a team of the 4th division of Brazilian soccer were evaluated, in which the observed matches (referenced as n = 13 in the spreadsheet) were performed in the afternoon (4:00 PM, referenced as n = 8 in the spreadsheet) and in the evening (9:00 PM referenced as n = 5 in the spreadsheet). All the players, except the goalkeeper, were equipped during matches with the Global Positioning System, and through the QSports software® were obtained the values of distance traveled and intensity relative to the distance traveled in the game, which is divided into three levels: 0 – 10 km/h (Low), 11 – 18 km/h (Average), and 19 – 26 km/h (High). Thus, the findings did not present any differences in relation to the distance traveled; however, in the matches held at 9:00 PM, the players ran a greater distance in average intensity than those at 4:00 PM. In conclusion, it is suggested that games performed after 9:00 PM influence the intensity in which the match is played, being covered greater distance in average intensity. [full text]


HRV as a measure of recovery in US College Football Players in-season

ithlete, Myithlete, Simon Wegerif from

… The main findings of this study largely backed up those of the pre-season study, showing that day to day recovery, assessed with HRV was faster and more complete for lighter players with lower body mass. However, the size of the changes were smaller in this study compared to pre-season. The authors suggested that the high training loads and temperatures of the pre-season camp could have conditioned the players to be more resilient during the season itself, via higher aerobic fitness and increased blood plasma volume. The higher sensitivity of HRV compared to resting HR is not surprising, considering that resting HR depends on both parasympathetic and sympathetic influences whereas HRV is a purer measure of the parasympathetic influence on the heart.

In terms of practical advice, the authors conclude that larger players are likely to require greater recovery durations from training and that coaches should both consider specific post-training recovery techniques for these larger players, and look out for signs of fatigue and mal-adaptation amongst them.


An investigation into the Dunning–Kruger effect in sport coaching

International Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology from

The Dunning–Kruger effect is a robust finding whereby individuals’ perceptions of their abilities differ significantly from objective assessments of ability. This effect has been found in a variety of tasks; however, there is a need for more research with respect to real-life competencies. The current study examined the Dunning–Kruger effect in coaches. Ninety-four high school volleyball coaches completed the teaching technique and strategy scales of the Coaching Efficacy Scale and an assessment of coaching ability. The results showed that, when split into quartiles based on ability, coaches in the lowest quartile had significantly higher efficacy than ability (t(24) = 3.61, p < .001), whereas those in the highest quartile had significantly lower efficacy than ability (t(25) = −4.78, p < .001). These results support the generalisability of the Dunning–Kruger effect. Implications with respect to the context of coaching are discussed.


Relative Age Effects Across and Within Female Sport Contexts: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis | SpringerLink

Sports Medicine journal from


Subtle differences in chronological age within sport (bi-) annual-age groupings can contribute to immediate participation and long-term attainment discrepancies; known as the relative age effect. Voluminous studies have examined relative age effects in male sport; however, their prevalence and context-specific magnitude in female sport remain undetermined.

The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence and magnitude of relative age effects in female sport via examination of published data spanning 1984–2016.

Registered with PROSPERO (No. 42016053497) and using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis systematic search guidelines, 57 studies were identified, containing 308 independent samples across 25 sports. Distribution data were synthesised using odds ratio meta-analyses, applying an invariance random-effects model. Follow-up subgroup category analyses examined whether relative age effect magnitudes were moderated by age group, competition level, sport type, sport context and study quality.

When comparing the relatively oldest (quartile 1) vs. youngest (quartile 4) individuals across all female sport contexts, the overall pooled estimate identified a significant but small relative age effect (odds ratio = 1.25; 95% confidence interval 1.21–1.30; p = 0.01; odds ratio adjusted = 1.21). Subgroup analyses revealed the relative age effect magnitude was higher in pre-adolescent (≤ 11 years) and adolescent (12–14 years) age groups and at higher competition levels. Relative age effect magnitudes were higher in team-based and individual sport contexts associated with high physiological demands.

The findings highlight relative age effects are prevalent across the female sport contexts examined. Relative age effect magnitude is moderated by interactions between developmental stages, competition level and sport context demands. Modifications to sport policy, organisational and athlete development system structure, as well as practitioner intervention are recommended to prevent relative age effect-related participation and longer term attainment inequalities.


Faster, higher, stronger, older: Relative age effects are most influential during the youngest age grade of track and field athletics in the United Kingdom

Journal of Sports Sciences from

The relative age effect (RAE) is a common phenomenon in youth sport, whereby children born early in the selection year are more likely to experience success and to sustain participation. There is a lack of research investigating variables which influence RAEs within track and field athletics. Such information is vital to guide policies in relation to competition structure, youth development squads and coach education. A database of competition results was analysed to determine the extent to which RAEs were present in track and field athletics in the United Kingdom. Subsequent analyses examined whether age, sex, event and skill level influenced the RAE. Examination of 77,571 records revealed that RAEs were widespread, but most pronounced during Under 13 (U13) competitions; that is, during athletes’ first exposure to formal track and field competition. Sex, event and skill level further influenced the existence and magnitude of RAEs at different age grades. Relative age is a key influencing factor within track and field athletics, especially at the youngest age category. Consequently, national governing bodies need to consider what administrative and stakeholder initiatives are necessary to minimise the effects of RAEs on young athletes’ early experiences of competition.


Personalizing wearable devices

Harvard University, Wyss Institute from

… When humans walk, we constantly tweak how we move to save energy (also known as metabolic cost).

“Before, if you had three different users walking with assistive devices, you would need three different assistance strategies,” said Myunghee Kim, Ph.D., postdoctoral research fellow at SEAS and co-first author of the paper. “Finding the right control parameters for each wearer used to be a difficult, step-by-step process because not only do all humans walk a little differently but the experiments required to manually tune parameters are complicated and time consuming.”

The researchers, led by Conor Walsh, Ph.D., Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute and the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Scott Kuindersma, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Engineering and Computer Science at SEAS, developed an algorithm that can cut through that variability and rapidly identify the best control parameters that work best for minimizing the energy used for walking.


Accuracy, intra- and inter-unit reliability, and comparison between GPS and UWB-based position-tracking systems used for time–motion analyses in soccer

European Journal of Sport Science from

There is interest in the accuracy and inter-unit reliability of position-tracking systems to monitor players. Research into this technology, although relatively recent, has grown exponentially in the last years, and it is difficult to find professional team sport that does not use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology at least. The aim of this study is to know the accuracy of both GPS-based and Ultra Wide Band (UWB)-based systems on a soccer field and their inter- and intra-unit reliability. A secondary aim is to compare them for practical applications in sport science. Following institutional ethical approval and familiarization, 10 healthy and well-trained former soccer players (20 ± 1.6 years, 1.76 ± 0.08 cm, and 69.5 ± 9.8 kg) performed three course tests: (i) linear course, (ii) circular course, and (iii) a zig–zag course, all using UWB and GPS technologies. The average speed and distance covered were compared with timing gates and the real distance as references. The UWB technology showed better accuracy (bias: 0.57–5.85%), test–retest reliability (%TEM: 1.19), and inter-unit reliability (bias: 0.18) in determining distance covered than the GPS technology (bias: 0.69–6.05%; %TEM: 1.47; bias: 0.25) overall. Also, UWB showed better results (bias: 0.09; ICC: 0.979; bias: 0.01) for mean velocity measurement than GPS (bias: 0.18; ICC: 0.951; bias: 0.03).


Non-Traditional Chips Gaining Steam

Semiconductor Engineering, Jeff Dorsch from

… “Substrate suppliers are all working to develop the most stable, flexible, and innovative technologies in each type. They know that every application demands tradeoffs when choosing a substrate,” she said. “There are tradeoffs in processing methods – primarily temperature, but also sheet-fed vs. roll-to-roll. There are tradeoffs in flexibility, too. Sometimes you want full flexibility, sometimes a little bit of flex is enough, such as the Samsung Galaxy S8 smartphones. And there are tradeoffs in electrical, thermal and mechanical properties, including determining stability when encapsulating or packaging. There also are tradeoffs in clarity, or transparency, which are useful in display applications; trade-offs when determining if the substrate will be multilayer or ‘smart’ by incorporating sensors (Purdue’s Birck Institute is doing a lot of characterization on this). And there are tradeoffs in throughput, costs, and process complexity. Some substrates lend themselves to roll-to-roll more than others. Overall, substrate characteristics must match the application. Evaluating the appropriate substrate is one part of the evaluation phase in creating a solution for any given application.”


Vikings unveil new state-of-the-art HQ just in time for free agency

ESPN NFL, Courtney Cronin from

The Minnesota Vikings have moved into their new team headquarters in Eagan, Minnesota. The 277,000 square foot Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center features state-of-the-art training equipment and technology that puts the Vikings in an elite group of NFL franchises with world-class facilities.

Highlights from inside the 100-percent privately funded facility include six practice fields, a draft “war room” with 40 55-inch television monitors that allow Minnesota to swiftly move through prospects while on the clock, a training room three times the size of the Vikings’ old facility in Eden Prairie, equipped with a special room for concussion testing, a cryotherapy chamber, three specialized pools, an anti-gravity treadmill and more.

As free agents are brought in to tour the new digs beginning next week, they’ll get to take in all the lavish facility has to offer with tools they can use to perform at their best in a training center that’s second to none.


Tallahassee app Footy Training brings soccer training to iOS

Tallahassee Democrat, Nick Farrell from

… Footy Training, founded by Armand Dikranian, is a mobile app and “comprehensive development tool” for soccer players.

Dikranian was Assistant Coach of the 2014 NCAA Championship-Winning FSU Women’s Soccer team. Following that, he decided to build a business to help train and support players all across the country. The Footy Training app contains gamified drills, exercises and lessons for up to five years of training.

The app has five different modules for players to use and includes hundreds of instructional videos. It can help train players on things like ball-handling, scoring, passing and general dexterity. Users can “compete” against real-life pros from the U.S. National team, as well against friends and teammates who use the app.


Brownlees join forces with Werlabs to create very own blood test

220Triathlon from

The Brownlee Brothers blood test includes the most relevant markers that can both be affected by exercise and affect performance, and is aimed to offer people a broader understanding of their body, enabling them to take control of their health and physical performance.

Alistair Brownlee said: “When we saw the robust approach to health that Werlabs takes, we knew we wanted to get involved and create a blood test that would be of benefit to people whether or not they are athletes.

“To get through the mental and physical wear and tear of our training it is vital that we are in peak condition, both physically and mentally. Together with Werlabs we created this blood test, that looks at over 30 blood values. “It was so interesting to get an insight into what is happening inside our bodies, to ensure we are doing what is right for our health from the inside out.”


Hologic partners with University of Minnesota on athletic performance software

Medical Design and Outsourcing, Danielle Kirsh from

HologicHologic Dexalytics (Marlborough, Mass.) has signed an exclusive agreement with the University of Minnesota to be the distributor of the university-developed Dexalytics: Teams athletic performance software in North America.

The financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Hologic’s Horizon dual X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) system already provides precise body composition assessment. What the cloud-based Dexalytics software is able to do is go beyond simply providing metrics of body fat percentage, total lean mass and total fat mass. The software uses a proprietary system to transform pages of clinical data into a manageable athlete score directly connected to sports performance. Team trainers, coaches and medical staff get sport- and position-specific body composition ranges for athletes, allowing them to track progress for an individual or group of athletes.


Virginia Tech’s helmet study helped lead to first blood test for concussions

Roanoke Times, Luanne Rife from

Virginia Tech’s football team physician on Monday shared ground-breaking news with first-year students at Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine during his annual concussion lecture.

The Food and Drug Administration this month approved the first blood test to be used in determining whether someone has a brain-injuring concussion. The test looks for two brain proteins that leak into the blood within minutes of a concussive blow to the head.

Dr. Gunnar Brolinson said it will help not only sideline doctors like himself but emergency room physicians everywhere in deciding which patients will need expensive and high-dose radiation CT scans.


Davidson students crunch data to prevent sports concussions

Raleigh News & Observer, Stephen Martin and Christopher Gergen from

Kendall Thomas knows firsthand the steep physical price that elite athletes too often pay.

A goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team at Davidson College, she has endured three major knee injuries during her soccer career and watched many teammates suffer concussions, which are prevalent in the sport.

Her experiences have fueled Thomas’ passion for helping athletes prevent injuries. Last summer, she got a chance to do something about it, while also delving into another of her passions – numbers.

Thomas, a junior math and computer science major at Davidson, and her classmate George Baldini, a computer science major who is also a manager of the Davidson men’s basketball team, interned with Athlete Intelligence, a Seattle-based sports technology and analytics company.


Calgary researchers develop tool to literally shine light on concussions

CBC News, The Canadian Press from

Researchers at the University of Calgary say they have developed a portable brain-imaging system that would literally shed light on concussions.

Symptoms of a concussion can vary greatly between individuals and include headaches, nausea, loss of memory and lack of co-ordination, which make it difficult to find treatment options.

U of C scientist Jeff Dunn says there has been no accepted way to get an image of a concussion, but he and his team have developed a device, called a Near-Infrared Spectroscopy, that measures communication in the brain by measuring oxygen levels in blood.


Concussion baseline testing is failing up to 55% of the time, says prof

CBC News from

Baseline testing, meant to protect athletes between the ages of 10 and 21 who have suffered brain injuries from returning to play before it’s safe, may be failing up to 55 per cent of the time, according to a professor at the University of Windsor.

Christopher Abeare studied 8,000 young athletes to determine whether the tests were working.

“We were mildly surprised to see that it was potentially as high as 50 or 55 per cent that showed some signs of having invalid baseline performance,” he said.


Decades Ago, Pilots Learned to “Fly by Instruments.” Doctors Need to Do the Same

Harvard Business Review, Jonathan Woodson from

… In medical education today, students acquire medical knowledge via memorization and gain experience and good judgment through lengthy apprenticeships. Their degree of competence as physicians will depend on what information they retain and what clinical experiences they are exposed to in the course of their careers. Professional development often consists of training provided by medical device manufacturers and pharma reps, which leads to highly variable levels of proficiency among caregivers. And gaining proficiency often means practicing on patients.

Professional development, like education, needs to incorporate more digital technologies and simulation platforms to reduce variability in competence and experiences. And caregivers must learn to trust AI and digital technologies to augment their clinical judgment. Every year there appear more predictive models capable of foreseeing outcomes and complications of treatments, practices, medications, and procedures. Yet, as anyone who routinely attends mortality and morbidity conferences in hospitals knows, there is the recurring problem of individual clinicians overriding available specific patient data or altering proper care as a result of confirmation bias, leading to medical errors.


Arsenic, Lead Found in Popular Protein Supplements

Consumer Reports, Jesse Hirsch from

Whether for weight loss, muscle building, or simply as a convenient quick meal on the go, many Americans turn to protein powders and drinks.

But a new study shows that many of the top-selling powders and drinks may contain concerning levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead, and toxins like bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in some plastic containers and food can liners.

These substances have been linked to cancer, brain damage, and reproductive issues.


IOC consensus statement: dietary supplements and the high-performance athlete

British Journal of Sports Medicine from

Nutrition usually makes a small but potentially valuable contribution to successful performance in elite athletes, and dietary supplements can make a minor contribution to this nutrition programme. Nonetheless, supplement use is widespread at all levels of sport. Products described as supplements target different issues, including (1) the management of micronutrient deficiencies, (2) supply of convenient forms of energy and macronutrients, and (3) provision of direct benefits to performance or (4) indirect benefits such as supporting intense training regimens. The appropriate use of some supplements can benefit the athlete, but others may harm the athlete’s health, performance, and/or livelihood and reputation (if an antidoping rule violation results). A complete nutritional assessment should be undertaken before decisions regarding supplement use are made. Supplements claiming to directly or indirectly enhance performance are typically the largest group of products marketed to athletes, but only a few (including caffeine, creatine, specific buffering agents and nitrate) have good evidence of benefits. However, responses are affected by the scenario of use and may vary widely between individuals because of factors that include genetics, the microbiome and habitual diet. Supplements intended to enhance performance should be thoroughly trialled in training or simulated competition before being used in competition. Inadvertent ingestion of substances prohibited under the antidoping codes that govern elite sport is a known risk of taking some supplements. Protection of the athlete’s health and awareness of the potential for harm must be paramount; expert professional opinion and assistance is strongly advised before an athlete embarks on supplement use. [full text]


Recent Perspectives Regarding the Role of Dietary Protein for the Promotion of Muscle Hypertrophy with Resistance Exercise Training

Nutrients journal from

Skeletal muscle supports locomotion and serves as the largest site of postprandial glucose disposal; thus it is a critical organ for physical and metabolic health. Skeletal muscle mass is regulated by the processes of muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and muscle protein breakdown (MPB), both of which are sensitive to external loading and aminoacidemia. Hyperaminoacidemia results in a robust but transient increase in rates of MPS and a mild suppression of MPB. Resistance exercise potentiates the aminoacidemia-induced rise in MPS that, when repeated over time, results in gradual radial growth of skeletal muscle (i.e., hypertrophy). Factors that affect MPS include both quantity and composition of the amino acid source. Specifically, MPS is stimulated in a dose-responsive manner and the primary amino acid agonist of this process is leucine. MPB also appears to be regulated in part by protein intake, which can exert a suppressive effect on MPB. At high protein doses the suppression of MPB may interfere with skeletal muscle adaptation following resistance exercise. In this review, we examine recent advancements in our understanding of how protein ingestion impacts skeletal muscle growth following resistance exercise in young adults during energy balance and energy restriction. We also provide practical recommendations for exercisers who wish to maximize the hypertrophic response of skeletal muscle during resistance exercise training. [full text]


Sports nutritionists work closely with University athletes

University of Virginia, The Cavalier Daily, Aisha Singh from

… “Because athletes tend to expend a lot more energy than non-athletes, [they] consume more food overall to provide energy for the physical activity performed as well as to help the body recover,” Steve Malin, an assistant professor in the kinesiology department, said in an email. “The type of calories athletes require may differ based on whether the athlete is more aerobic or power based.”

According to Director of Sports Nutrition Randy Bird some basketball players eat 4,000 to 5,000 calories per day.

“Besides quantity, [players] focus on carbohydrates for energy, protein to repair their muscles from the damage of workouts, and foods that help their bo


How firing the manager impacts a struggling team

Howler Magazine, Jared Odenbeck from

… Our now-former head coach stood helpless in the corner and looked on silently. In that moment, I genuinely felt for him. He coached with clear and apparent passion for the game and the club. Sure, we were piss-poor from a results standpoint in the past last five games, but our possession-dominating performances deserved more. Lindome had offered him his first head coaching job at the professional level, and he lasted merely four months at the helm. The board afforded him no mercy whatsoever. In almost every situation where a coach’s job rests fragile and vulnerable on the chopping block, I believe that players deserve some amount of blame. Yet, none came our way that night. The door slammed. That was that.

When we arrived to training the next day, the dressing room was heavy with expectation and the weight of the unknown. For so long, many of the players knew exactly what to expect from training: what corners they could cut, how little effort they put in to post-training runs, what the boss required of them, and whether or not he all-but-guaranteed them a spot in the starting 11 every week. After dropping all three points for a few games on the bounce, despite our performances, players started to lose inspiration in training. Shoulders slumped. Fingers pointed. The buck was passed. Every day felt like a drag. I couldn’t tell you which came first, the chicken or the egg, but they undoubtedly happened together. Aside from the enjoyment I felt in our possession-based, risk-everything style, I wondered if I had walked into a nightmare.


Niyo: Analytics taking root with Lions, NFL — like it or not

The Detroit News, John Niyo from

… The Lions are no strangers to analytics, working with data consultants like Louisville-based EdjSports in the past and utilizing wearable technology for years. Jon Dykema, the team’s cap manager and contract negotiator, has been in charge of directing the team’s analytics initiatives on the personnel side, while Evan Rothstein, a former quality control coach whose new title is “head coach assistant for research & analysis,” did much of that work on the coaching side.

Now Patricia has added another member to his staff, hiring David Corrao as his director of football research. That’s a position famously filled in New England by longtime Bill Belichick confidant Ernie Adams, a secretive figure who plays a vital role in many areas — scouting, in-game strategy, statistical analysis and so on. And in typical Patriots fashion, when asked last week about Corrao’s duties in Detroit, Patricia smiled and replied, “Yeah, so, he’s gonna do a lot of research … and things like that.”


March Madness: Does Conference Tournament Timing Matter?

The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, Brendan Kent from

… hould you be wary of teams that played an early conference tournament when making your First Round bracket picks?

To find out, I dug into Kaggle’s excellent March Madness data set, which contains NCAA Tournament, conference tournament, and regular season games from 1985 to 2016. I teased out the number of games between a team’s final non-NCAA Tournament game (either a conference tournament game or a final regular season game, if the team’s conference did not hold a tournament) and its first NCAA Tournament game, essentially a team’s pre-NCAA Tournament rest days.

I then tested whether the number of rest days had any impact on a team’s performance in its first tournament game (either a First Round game or First Four game) by regressing an indicator for whether a team won its first game on difference between the opponent’s seed and the team’s seed, the year, and the team’s rest days.


Undercover with the data ‘nerds’ dividing opinion in football

iNews (UK), Sam Cunningham from

There is not a tracksuit or cone in sight. A lot of young-to-middle-aged men, largely in thin jumpers and shirts with no ties. A lot of beards. Plenty of thick-rimmed glasses.

This is the other side to football: as far removed as you can get from the tough tackles, the thumping headers, the mud and the wind and the rain. This is the brains, the numbers, the formulae behind the beautiful game.

i has gone undercover — in thin jumper and shirt with no tie, and thick-rimmed glasses — at the annual OptaPro Forum, a meeting of some of football’s smartest minds, the convergence of analysts from Chelsea to Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain to Barcelona, the Football Association to the Premier League. They are hated by traditionalists and heralded as the future by forward-thinkers. They do some of the most important work in football you probably know nothing about. Away from the spotlight, data is improving football immeasurably.


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