Applied Sports Science newsletter – May 25, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for May 25, 2018


Manuel Neuer: ‘I don’t feel the fear. I’m always thinking positive’

The Guardian, Grant Wahl from

… The downside of Neuer’s approach is the football version of hara-kiri. If he misjudges the speed and trajectory of the ball or the striker and arrives too late, he may concede a goal and look silly in the process. “I don’t feel the fear in my head in this moment,” he says. “I am always thinking positive. It’s all about the first step. If I think I will get the ball, I go out. I can’t stop halfway because the goal is empty and the player would have the opportunity to shoot. You make the reaction, and then, of course, you have to be sure to get the ball. But it’s years of practice. You can’t say from one day to the other: ‘Now I will do it,’ you know? You have to feel it.”

When Neuer speaks about his goalkeeping influences as a youngster, one revealing aspect is his division between German and non-German keepers and his association of the word “modern” with those who hail from outside Germany. “In Germany, Jens Lehmann was a model style for a German goalkeeper,” Neuer says of the player who spent 10 seasons at Schalke, the club that developed Neuer. “In the international style, my idol was [the Netherlands’] Edwin van der Sar. He was so modern, much more modern than Lehmann. He had another level. He could play with his left and right foot and go out of the box and go out to get crosses. He was present as a personality. Then there was Oliver Kahn: his reflexes, his ambition. He trained hard, and in that sense he was my idol. So I have some different pieces put together. It’s like having a lot of coaches, and you save something from the coach that you think is good for you – and that becomes you.”


Are the Minutes Finally Catching Up to LeBron?

The Ringer, Haley O'Shaughnessy from

For the first time in a long while, LeBron James looks tired. For the Cavs to avoid elimination, their talisman will need to overcome the exhaustion caused by carrying the team.


Sleep study targets brain processes causing poor decision-making

Washington State University, WSU Insider from

Sleep deprivation can take a heavy toll on our ability to make sound decisions, with potentially disastrous outcomes. With support from a $2.8 million grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Defense, a team of researchers from Washington State University’s Sleep and Performance Research Center will embark on a new three-year research study to find out how exactly this works inside the brain.

Funded through the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, the project will lay the groundwork for the development of new countermeasures to reduce the harmful cognitive effects of sleep deprivation in military operations and other around-the-clock, safety-critical settings.


A 2-Year Prospective Cohort Study of Overuse Running Injuries: The Runners and Injury Longitudinal Study (TRAILS)

American Journal of Sports Medicine from


The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, noting flaws in previous running injury research, called for more rigorous prospective designs and comprehensive analyses to define the origin of running injuries.

To determine the risk factors that differentiate recreational runners who remain uninjured from those diagnosed with an overuse running injury during a 2-year observational period.
Study Design:

Cohort study; Level of evidence, 2.

Inclusion criteria were running a minimum of 5 miles per week and being injury free for at least the past 6 months. Data were collected at baseline on training, medical and injury histories, demographics, anthropometrics, strength, gait biomechanics, and psychosocial variables. Injuries occurring over the 2-year observation period were diagnosed by an orthopaedic surgeon on the basis of predetermined definitions.

Of the 300 runners who entered the study, 199 (66%) sustained at least 1 injury, including 73% of women and 62% of men. Of the injured runners, 111 (56%) sustained injuries more than once. In bivariate analyses, significant (P ≤ .05) factors at baseline that predicted injury were as follows: Short Form Health Survey–12 mental component score (lower mental health–related quality of life), Positive and Negative Affect Scale negative affect score (more negative emotions), sex (higher percentage of women were injured), and knee stiffness (greater stiffness was associated with injury); subsequently, knee stiffness was the lone significant predictor of injury (odds ratio = 1.18) in a multivariable analysis. Flexibility, quadriceps angle, arch height, rearfoot motion, strength, footwear, and previous injury were not significant risk factors for injury.

The results of this study indicate the following: (1) among recreational runners, women sustain injuries at a higher rate than men; (2) greater knee stiffness, more common in runners with higher body weights (≥80 kg), significantly increases the odds of sustaining an overuse running injury; and (3) contrary to several long-held beliefs, flexibility, arch height, quadriceps angle, rearfoot motion, lower extremity strength, weekly mileage, footwear, and previous injury are not significant etiologic factors across all overuse running injuries.


England fatigue is inevitable, but attention to detail can help Gareth Southgate counteract it

The Telegraph (UK), Michael Davison from

… Quite a few of the players have not been regular starters for their teams, whilst the Leicester and Tottenham players have been involved week in week out for their team, compared to the Manchester City players who have in effect been celebrating more than training every week since they won the Premier League in April. The transitioning process will require compromises from the technical coaching team to give time and resources to bring the players up to a common fitness level.

Conquering fatigue is the goal, in order to get the most of the forthcoming training block and avoid a slump in six weeks’ time when England may be entering the latter stages of the tournament.


Students exposed to more hardworking peers achieve higher grades

Blog on Learning & Development, Sabine Gysi from

Ulf Zölitz, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, who is affiliated with the Jacobs Centre for Productive Youth Development, talks about his research on the effects of peer personality on educational achievement. His most recent paper has important implications for policies related to child and youth development. He has found that interventions designed to develop socio-emotional skills have spill-over effects on the performance of fellow students.


PA Software Uses Your iPhone Camera and Machine Learning To Generate High-Quality Baseball Analytics

Forbes, Frederick Daso from

… Matthew Bowen is the founder of PA Software, a baseball video analytics software startup that brings the power and accuracy of multi-million dollar Major League Baseball analytics systems to your smartphone. Bowen got the idea for developing phone-driven baseball analysis software during his freshman year at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. He was watching an Atlanta Braves game with friends when ESPN’s K-Zone popped up on screen to showcase where the ball passed through the ‘strike-box.’ Many people have railed against the K-Zone being a permanent fixture on TV screens during baseball games, but Bowen saw a problem that had yet to be solved.

During an official baseball game, these baseball statistics are generated by teams of professional statisticians either from ESPN or other third parties that are dedicated to this kind of work. But these skilled data observers and collectors aren’t immediately available during a team practice, where this kind of information would be critical in maintaining or improving an individual players performance. A team would spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, to purchase motion-tracking equipment and work with dedicated third parties who specialize in collecting and generating these statistics. For the average baseball player looking to improve their game, the cost for these baseball analytics was prohibitive.

A combination of Bowen’s love for the game stemming from his days as a former high school baseball player, and support from his professor in the UA’s Emerging Scholars program led him to pursue research in computer vision for sports applications.


MonoPerfCap: Human Performance Capture from Monocular Video – ACM TOG (presented SIGGRAPH 2018)

YouTube, Christian Theobalt from

We present the first marker-less approach for temporally coherent 3D performance capture of a human with general clothing from monocular video. Our approach reconstructs articulated human skeleton motion as well as medium-scale non-rigid surface deformations in general scenes. Human performance capture is a challenging problem due to the large range of articulation, potentially fast motion, and considerable non-rigid deformations, even from multi-view data. Reconstruction from monocular video alone is drastically more challenging, since strong occlusions and the inherent depth ambiguity lead to a highly ill-posed reconstruction problem. We tackle these challenges by a novel approach that employs sparse 2D and 3D human pose detections from a convolutional neural network using a batch-based pose estimation strategy. Joint recovery of per-batch motion allows to resolve the ambiguities of the monocular reconstruction problem based on a low dimensional trajectory subspace. In addition, we propose refinement of the surface geometry based on fully automatically extracted silhouettes to enable medium-scale non-rigid alignment. We demonstrate state-of-the-art performance capture results that enable exciting applications such as video editing and free viewpoint video, previously infeasible from monocular video.


Ingestible “bacteria on a chip” could help diagnose disease

MIT News from

MIT researchers have built an ingestible sensor equipped with genetically engineered bacteria that can diagnose bleeding in the stomach or other gastrointestinal problems.

This “bacteria-on-a-chip” approach combines sensors made from living cells with ultra-low-power electronics that convert the bacterial response into a wireless signal that can be read by a smartphone.

“By combining engineered biological sensors together with low-power wireless electronics, we can detect biological signals in the body and in near real-time, enabling new diagnostic capabilities for human health applications,” says Timothy Lu, an MIT associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science and of biological engineering.


The Evolving Treatment Patterns of NCAA Division I Football Players by Orthopaedic Team Physicians Over the Past Decade, 2008-2016

Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach journal from


Previous studies have analyzed the treatment patterns used to manage injuries in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I football players.

Treatment patterns used to manage injuries in NCAA Division I football players will have changed over the study period.
Study Design:

Descriptive epidemiology study.
Level of Evidence:

Level 5.

The head orthopaedic team physicians for all 128 NCAA Division I football teams were asked to complete a survey containing questions regarding experience as team physician, medical coverage of the team, reimbursement issues, and treatment preferences for some of the most common injuries occurring in football players. Responses from the current survey were compared with responses from the same survey sent to NCAA Division I team physicians in 2008.

Responses were received from 111 (111/119, 93%) NCAA Division I orthopaedic team physicians in 2008 and 115 (115/128, 90%) orthopaedic team physicians between April 2016 and April 2017. The proportion of team physicians who prefer a patellar tendon autograft for primary anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction (ACLR) increased from 67% in 2008 to 83% in 2016 (P < 0.001). The proportion of team physicians who perform anterior shoulder stabilization arthroscopically increased from 69% in 2008 to 93% in 2016 (P < 0.0001). Of team physicians who perform surgery for grade III posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries, the proportion who use the arthroscopic single-bundle technique increased from 49% in 2008 to 83% in 2016 (P < 0.0001). The proportion of team physicians who use Toradol injections prior to a game to help with nagging injuries decreased from 62% in 2008 to 26% in 2016 (P < 0.0001). Conclusion:

Orthopaedic physicians changed their injury treatment preferences for NCAA Division I football players over the study period. In particular, physicians have changed their preferred techniques for ACLR, anterior shoulder stabilization, and PCL reconstruction. Physicians have also become more conservative with pregame Toradol injections.
Clinical Relevance:

These opinions may help guide treatment decisions and lead to better care of all athletes.


Are we eating at the wrong time for our body clocks?

BBC News, Alex Therrien from

… some scientists believe eating more of our daily calories earlier in the day – and shifting mealtimes earlier in general – could be good for our health.

One study found women who were trying to lose weight lost more when they had lunch earlier in the day, while another linked eating later breakfasts to having a higher body mass index.

“There’s already a very old saying, eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper, and I think there’s some truth in that,” says Dr Gerda Pot, a visiting lecturer in nutritional sciences at King’s College London.


West Virginia and market inefficiencies in modern recruiting

Football Study Hall blog, Ian Boyd from

… A bigger, more prominent story in college football today is the increasing prevalence of transfers. As college becomes more financially driven and coaches more and more mercenary, the inevitable result was for the players to learn the same lesson and approach college football as the business that it really is. Sometimes you leave your place of business for another opportunity elsewhere, especially when you have a limited window to maximize your value. As a result of that practice, the shoe is on the other foot now for many a coach who takes a higher paying job only to find his roster emptying out as players leave via grad or regular transfer to other schools.

In this new world of business-oriented college ball, West Virginia stands out as a program that has happily latched on to new practices in order to capitalize on the trends.


Mark Clattenburg green lighted to use green cards at the CONIFA World Football Cup

These Football Times, Will Sharp from

… “At CONIFA, sportsmanship and fair play are absolute core values and we spent years discussing how we could eradicate the typical bad behaviours on a football pitch seen in nearly every match today — simulating, arguing, shouting names — more effectively than others,” CONIFA General Secretary Sascha Düerkop told These Football Times. “This year, Mark Clattenburg and Paddy Power had the amazing idea of the green card, which comes originally from Gaelic Sports, and after discussing internally with all our refs, we are very pleased to give it a go and see how it helps making the match more fluid and gentleman-like again.

“The idea behind [the green card] is that we believe unsportsmanlike behaviour should be limited and sanctioned,” Düerkop detailed. “If a particular player behaves badly on the pitch, the green card gives the referee the opportunity to sanction him personally without sanctioning the whole team – as they will be able to continue with the full 11 players.”


Don’t sleep on Tyronn Lue’s coaching greatness

The Undefeated, William C. Rhoden from

… “At the end of the day, I don’t care,” a weary Lue said. “I do what I do to the best of my ability; the outside noise doesn’t bother me.”

During his playing career, Lue played with Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal. He knows the benefits of playing with Hall of Fame-caliber players.

“I played with all those guys, so I know what it takes to win,” he said. “LeBron’s a great player; we wouldn’t win if it wasn’t for him. I understand that. That’s how it goes.”

On Sunday, I went to the Cavaliers’ practice to follow up on that question — what makes a great coach — and to ask one more: What are the perils of coaching a megastar?


NHL Scoring Trends, 2007-08 to 2017-18: Is the League Getting More Competitive?

Hockey Graphs, Benjamin Wendorf from

Though it was completely tangential to @SteveBurtch’s line of thinking, his brief comments pondering the competitiveness between the middle of NHL lineups yesterday (which I can’t locate now, natch) got me thinking about whether the NHL and team management has gotten any more efficient or competitive overall the last decade. With 10 years in the books for complex Corsi data, and hockey’s seeming “Moneyball moment” fully here regardless of the quibbling on social and mainstream media, is the league getting any tighter?

At least initially, when I looked at the data it seemed like the answer is mostly yes. Take our standard deviations among some of the major “team talent” and “team performance” 5v5 metrics over the last decade.


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