Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 1, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 1, 2018


Can Alexander Zverev become the world’s best tennis player?

1843 Magazine, Simon Willis from

One afternoon in May 2017 Alexander Zverev, a 20-year-old German tennis player with a mane of strawberry-blond hair, walked onto court in Rome to play in the final of the Italian Open. The odds were against him. His opponent was Novak Djokovic, who is the nearest thing that tennis has ever had to a cyborg – a player who can hit for hours with unnerving exactitude, who never gets tired and who has the ability to bend and stretch himself hydraulically to reach impossibly distant balls. The gulf in experience was significant. The Italian Open is one of the Masters 1000 tournaments, the most prestigious events on the tennis calendar after the four grand slams. Zverev had never competed in a final at this level. Djokovic had played in 44.

Alongside Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, Djokovic is part of the greatest generation of champions tennis has ever seen. They have been dominant for nearly 15 years, winning 53 out of the 63 grand slams held since 2003. No previous cohort of stars has stayed at the top for so long. But though Federer basks in a glorious Indian summer and Nadal has overcome injuries that looked career ruining, the world knows that they are closer to retirement than the peak of their powers. Victory in Rome would make Zverev the youngest player to win a Masters title since Djokovic won in Miami in 2007. It would also propel him into the top ten, something no other 20-year-old has managed since 2008. And it would confirm him as heir-apparent.


Corey Crawford of Chicago Blackhawks says he’s ‘come a long way,’ unsure he’ll be ready for camp

ESPN NHL, Emily Kaplan from

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford, who missed the last three-plus months of Chicago’s season with an undisclosed injury, admitted he has been “a little bit” concerned about his long-term health.

Crawford, 33, was emotional when addressing reporters at the Blackhawks’ fan convention Friday. He made his first public comments since February.

“I’m feeling pretty good right now,” Crawford said. “I’m not 100 percent yet. But I’ve come a long way in the last couple months.”


Simone Manuel Enjoys Fast Lane In the Pool, But Channels Her Inner Snail On Land

Team USA, Karen Rosen from

… “You gotta calm down a little bit or else I would have probably gone out too fast in the 100,” said Manuel, who posted her third-fastest time ever of 52.54 seconds at the meet, which is part of the Team USA Summer Champions Series, presented by Xfinity.

In the 50, there was no holding back for the Olympic double gold and double silver medalist.

Manuel clocked 24.10 seconds, moving from 10th on this year’s world list to fourth. She also broke a pair of 10-year-old records. Manuel eclipsed the U.S. Open record (performances in the United States) of 24.13 set by rival Cate Campbell of Australia, and also surpassed the championships record of 24.25 held by Dara Torres.


Vikings’ Dalvin Cook says return from torn ACL has been quicker than expected

Duluth News Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Chris Tomasson and Dane Mizutani from

Dalvin Cook often tries to hide his emotions, but that was difficult Monday.

The Vikings running back, whose season ended with a torn left ACL suffered in October, took part with no apparent limitations in the first practice in pads at training camp.

“I try to keep all my emotions in, but it’s just God working in mysterious ways,” Cook said. “I’m just blessed to be back out here on the field now. I feel great. … I never thought I’d get to this point this quick, but I worked hard for it.”


Effects of heart rate variability biofeedback training in athletes exposed to stress of university examinations

PLOS One; Veronique Deschodt-Arsac et al. from


Heart rate variability biofeedback (HRV-BFB) training, a method whereby one controls an unusually low breathing rate to reach cardiac coherence, has been shown to reduce anxiety and improve cardiac autonomic markers in diseased people, but much less is known about HRV-BFB benefits in healthy people. Here we investigated potential benefits in young competitors experiencing stress during university examinations as well as persistence of benefits after HRV-BFB training cessation.

A group of sports students (n = 12) practiced 5-min HRV-BFB training twice a day for 5-weeks using URGOfeel® (URGOTECH) and was compared to a control group (n = 6). University examinations occurred immediately after HRV-BFB training (Exam1), then 12-weeks later (Exam2). Anxiety markers and cardiac autonomic markers were assessed at baseline, Exam1 and Exam2. Principal Component Analyses (PCA) that combined all these markers were computed at Exam1 and Exam2 to emphasize covariations.

At Exam 1, immediately after HRV-BFB training cessation, the experimental group demonstrated greater autonomic markers but similar states of anxiety when compared to the Control group. Twelve weeks later at Exam2, autonomic markers were greater and anxiety scores were lesser among the experimental group. PCA highlighted covariations only within cardiac autonomic markers at Exam1. Rather, variations in cardiac markers were associated with anxiety markers at Exam2.

Short sessions of HRV-BFB training for a brief period of 5 weeks bring substantial benefits to autonomic markers and anxiety levels in young competitors. Here beneficial effects persisted for 12 weeks. Dissociated profiles of anxiety and cardiac autonomic adaptations shed new light on the role of the amygdala in heart-brain interactions after cardiac coherence training.


UW-Madison study: Overspecialization in youth sports connected to daytime tiredness

WISC-TV,, Josh Spreiter from

If your kids are signed up for football, volleyball or another sport this school year, there’s a new study out showing it might be a good thing to get them involved in more than one. Researchers at UW-Madison say there are a host of issues linked to focusing too much on just one sport, and it could even impact their abilities in the classroom.

The study shows youth athletes who focus on one sport are much more likely to get sleepy throughout their day.


Don’t let your class schedule derail your D1 scholarship dream

USA TODAY High School Sports, Jaimie Duffek from

As summer winds down and stores fill up with back-to-school supplies, now’s the perfect time to take a much closer look at your athlete’s fall course schedule. It’s our annual reminder to the parents of student-athletes that just because your child has a good GPA doesn’t mean they’re automatically eligible to play Division 1 or Division 2 sports. When it comes to your student-athlete’s class schedule and grades, they need to meet the NCAA core course requirements.

Take for example, Allison. She was a talented softball recruit with a stellar 3.7 GPA. By her junior year, D1 offers starting to roll in. After several campus tours, she committed to a college with an athletic scholarship that shaved off a nice chunk of college costs. Then, in the homestretch of her senior year, it all fell apart.


How College Sports Killed Summer Vacation

The New York Times, Marc Tracy from

The day began for the Clemson men’s soccer team at 7 a.m., with workouts focused on improving agility, sprinting and technique. A weight room session followed. Next came classes. In the evening there was finally time to kick back with friends and video games, and to rest up for the next morning.

This was July 23, more than two full weeks before preseason formally begins next Wednesday, and a month before the Tigers’ first regular-season game.

And this grueling schedule actually constituted “an easier day for us,” the junior Tanner Dieterich said.

“We don’t want to waste any time,” he added.


Why are some athletes able to compete into their 40s? | Popular Science

Popular Science, Dana G. Smith from

Professional athletes must keep themselves in peak physical condition to perform their jobs. But like the rest of us, as they age these top performers’ stamina tends to decline, and most retire before the age of 40. However, an elite few are pushing the limits—and expectations—of what aging bodies can do, and are leading some people to ask, could 40 be the new 20?

Essam El-Hadary would have you believe so. The 45-year-old Egyptian goalie recently became the oldest player to ever take the field in a World Cup match. NFL quarterback Tom Brady would agree. He played in back-to-back Super Bowls in 2017 and 2018, throwing for a record 4,577 yards last season at the age of 40. And Texas Rangers’ pitcher Bartolo Colon, at age 45, has no intention of slowing down. The veteran starting pitcher made the sport’s coveted All-Star team as recently as 2016, and he is still having a respectable season, for a player of any age, this year.

What’s special about these athletes that keeps them performing at the highest level years after their teammates have been sidelined? And will they ever hang up their jerseys?


Injury Insights using Data

The Video, Alex Rathke from

This past Thursday, Kitman Labs ( based off Talbot street in Dublin, Ireland held their first ever Innovative Session. The purpose of the session was to give the public an insight into their work and how they enhance the performance of teams using data. This post is intended to be a basic synopsis of the evening along with some personal thoughts of the event. Otherwise, Kitman Labs recorded the event.


Markerless motion capture – award winning technology by Simi

YouTube SimiSystems from

Insights into the world of Simi and our award winning technology. Development of Simi Shape received the TÜV SÜD Innovation Award 2018 as second winner. With this award TÜV SÜD rewards and promotes cooperations of small and middle sized companies with research institutions. Our project was realized in joint effort with the TNT Institute for Information Processing at the Leibniz University Hannover. Our gratitude and the award is due to Dr. Rosenhahn and his team for the great collaboration.


T-shirt instead of USB stick?

Innovation in Textiles from

Making clothing more practical, communicative, functional, and protective is a fundamental idea when developing so-called intelligent textiles, Groz-Beckert, a leading provider of industrial machine needles, reports.

Integrating sensors, electrically conductive yarns, or other unusual materials when manufacturing smart textiles creates great challenges for stitch-creating components. Groz-Beckert provides needles and system parts for a number of ambitious technologies and collaborations to develop and implement new ideas.


Tracking Emerges by Colorizing Videos

arXiv, Computer Science > Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition; Carl Vondrick, Abhinav Shrivastava, Alireza Fathi, Sergio Guadarrama, Kevin Murphy from

We use large amounts of unlabeled video to learn models for visual tracking without manual human supervision. We leverage the natural temporal coherency of color to create a model that learns to colorize gray-scale videos by copying colors from a reference frame. Quantitative and qualitative experiments suggest that this task causes the model to automatically learn to track visual regions. Although the model is trained without any ground-truth labels, our method learns to track well enough to outperform the latest methods based on optical flow. Moreover, our results suggest that failures to track are correlated with failures to colorize, indicating that advancing video colorization may further improve self-supervised visual tracking.


Measuring the impact of taunting, jeering Team Sky at the Tour de France, Chris Case from

… We spoke with Dr. Kristen Dieffenbach, an executive board member of the Association for Applied Sport Psychology to help us understand how roadside boos impact world-class athletes.

VeloNews: How do the jeers and taunts that Team Sky was subjected to affect performance, generally? In some cases, in some people, might it actually improve short-term performance, due to the adrenaline surge it elicits, albeit short-lived?

Kristen Dieffenbach: Response will always be individual. The impact and response from each rider will vary, given when it occurs. With regards to the short-term impact, in the last kilometer of a race or last few kilometers, crowd noise is crowd noise. The energy of the crowd certainly helps boost the adrenaline of competitors. With athletes of this caliber, they are used to large and loud crowds at the end of the race and from my experience working with athletes, they are so focused on the task at that point that the noise is just noise, and it is all fuel.


Chris Froome says abuse on Tour de France helped Team Sky bond

The Guardian, Sean Ingle from

Chris Froome believes that the vitriol directed at Team Sky during the Tour de France spurred them on. The four-time winner, who has been booed during almost every stage, spat at and had an unidentified liquid poured on him, said the team had bonded over the incidents.

“It brought us together,” he said. “We bonded faster this year. It feels as if it was us against the world. It was amazing how the team pulled through especially when off the bike it’s been more difficult.”


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