Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 8, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 8, 2018


Last but not least: Craddock wears Tour’s red lantern as badge of courage

The Guardian, Sean Ingle from

You might not instantly recognise Lawson Craddock’s name, but an image of his face after a crash on the first stage of the Tour de France went viral: his left eye smashed up, a thick curd of blood spread along his cheeks, the grimace that of a cavalryman who fears his battle is done. Only it wasn’t. Despite also fracturing his scapula, he soldiered on for three more weeks. And, when he crossed the finish line in Paris last week, he had somehow become the most unlikeliest of history makers.

Most sport is binary. We talk about winners and losers, and not much in between. But Craddock’s travails in becoming the first rider in the Tour’s 115-year existence to occupy last position during all 21 stages of the race were a sharp reminder that there is glory in struggle, and savage defeat. During the Tour’s final week I saw him before the start of some stages. Often he clambered on to his bike with all the grace of an arthritic attempting ballet for the first time. Yet somehow he survived.

True, the American eventually finished 4hr 34min behind the yellow jersey winner, Geraint Thomas. But how many of us could have ridden more than 3,000km in intense pain without resisting the urge to shake our heads at the team car to end the suffering? And it wasn’t like he was going that slowly, either: the gap to Thomas was tiny compared with Arsène Millochau, the last-place finisher in 1903, who crossed the line 64hr 57min 8sec behind the race’s first winner, Maurice Garin.


Saints’ Onyemata no longer an international curiosity

Associated Press, Brett Martel from

… Onyemata, 25, always looked the part at 6-foot-4, 325 pounds. That’s a big reason the Saints decided it would be worthwhile to use a fourth-round draft choice on him in 2016.

But Onyemata never envisioned an NFL playing career when he went to college in western Canada. He was there to study, and took up football because he was looking for an interesting way to diversify his college experience outside the classroom. He’d played soccer growing up, and was ready to try something new that perhaps suited his body type.

Ultimately, his academics-first approach to college — he earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental science — might have aided his adjustment to the NFL.

“For a guy that had played as little football as he had, there was some terminology things that he had to learn … but I wouldn’t say that was any slower than it was for maybe any other rookie that we’ve had,” Allen recalled.


Influence of force-vector and force application plyometric training in young elite basketball players

European Journal of Sport Science from

Plyometric training composed by unilateral exercises with horizontal jumping direction seems to be an effective way to improve physical performance in athletes. The present study aimed to compare the influence of a combined jumping direction and force application (horizontal-unilateral vs. vertical-bilateral) plyometric training on linear sprinting, jumping, change of direction (COD) and dynamic balance in young elite basketball players. Twenty young (U-13 to U-14) male basketball players (age: 13.2 ± 0.7 years, body mass: 59.5 ± 12.7 kg, height: 172.9 ± 7.9 cm) were randomly assigned either to a unilateral-horizontal (UH, n = 10) or bilateral-vertical (BV, n = 10) plyometric group, twice a week for 6-wk. Both groups performed between 60 and 100 jumps/session. UH executed all jumps unilaterally with horizontal direction, while jumps in the BV were bilaterally with vertical direction. Performance was assessed by a linear sprinting test, vertical and horizontal jumping tests, COD tests (V-cut and 5+5 m with a 180°COD test), an ankle dorsiflexion test and dynamic balance tests (anterior and postero-lateral directions). Within-group differences showed substantial improvements (Effect size (ES):0.31–1.01) in unilateral vertical and horizontal jumping, V-cut test and postero-lateral direction with right leg after both training interventions. Furthermore, UH group also substantially improved (ES:0.33–0.78) all sprinting times and postero-lateral direction with left leg, while BV enhanced anterior direction with left leg (ES:0.25). Between-group analyses showed substantially greater improvements (ES:0.33) in 10-m and V-cut test in UH than in BV. The likely beneficial effect (small ES) achieved in sprinting abilities suggests the combination of unilateral-horizontal jumps to improve such abilities.


How to Improve Athleticism and “Movement Fluency”

Jason Fitzgerald, Strength Running blog from

… Incorporating a variety of workouts, race distances and types, strength exercises, mobility routines, and types of training then a runner’s fitness will be more well-rounded and holistic.

In short, they’ll be a real athlete – not just a runner.

We’re discussing this topic again because it’s really that important. Since I’ve gotten many questions recently about the problems that result when we are not athletic, let’s drive this point home.


Chemistry, family atmosphere keeping MSU football poised for 2018

The State News, Jonathan LeBlanc from

… That next step forward is embodied in the program’s motto this season, “Heave.”

The idea of “Heave” came during a tug-of-war competition during a summer workout. The team which yelled “Heave,” according to defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Mike Tressel, wasn’t the team you’d expect to win. But they all pulled at the same time and in the same direction for the win.

“It’s basically everybody going in the same direction. Obviously everybody is on one side of the rope, pulling that rope, so we’re all yelling ‘Heave’ going in that same direction,” Scott said. “You know, Coach D is so bright and ties things in with football right then and there.


Monitoring Blood Biomarkers and Training Load Throughout a Collegiate Soccer Season. – PubMed – NCBI

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research from

This observational study aimed to characterize the responses of a comprehensive panel of biomarkers, observed ranges, training load (TL) metrics, and performance throughout the collegiate soccer season (August-November). Biomarkers (n = 92) were collected before the start of pre-season (PS), in-season weeks (W)1, W4, W8, and W12 in NCAA Division I male soccer players (n = 20, mean ± SD; age = 21 ± 1 years, height = 180 ± 6 cm, body mass = 78.19 ± 6.3 kg, body fat = 12.0 ± 2.6%, V[Combining Dot Above]O2max 51.5 ± 5.1 ml·kg·min). Fitness tests were measured at PS, and W12 and TL was monitored daily. Changes in biomarkers and performance were calculated via separate repeated-measures analysis of variance. Despite similar fitness (p > 0.05), endocrine, muscle, inflammatory, and immune markers changed over time (p < 0.05). Total and free testosterone was lower in W1 vs. PS, whereas free cortisol remained unchanged at PS, W1, and W4 (>0.94 mg·dL). Oxygen transport and iron metabolism markers remained unchanged except for HCT (W1 vs. PS) and total iron binding capacity (W8-W12 vs. W1). Hepatic markers albumin, globulin, albumin:globulin, and total protein levels were elevated (p < 0.05) at W12 vs. W1, whereas aspartate aminotransferase and alanine aminotransferase levels were elevated at W1-W12 and W8-W12 vs. PS, respectively. Vitamin E, zinc, selenium, and calcium levels were elevated (p < 0.05) at W12 vs. W1, whereas Vitamin D was decreased (p < 0.05). Fatty acids and cardiovascular markers (omega-3 index, cholesterol:high-density lipoprotein [HDL], docosahexenoic acid, low-density lipoprotein [LDL], direct LDL, non-HDL, ApoB) were reduced at W1 vs. PS (p ≤ 0.05). Immune, lipid, and muscle damage biomarkers were frequently outside clinical reference ranges. Routine biomarker monitoring revealed subclinical and clinical changes, suggesting soccer-specific reference ranges. Biomarker monitoring may augment positive adaptation and reduce injuries from stressors incurred.


Why A Pulse Oximeter Could Be Your New Favorite Training Gadget

Training Peaks from

Although pulse oximeters are ubiquitous in medical settings, only recently have they become available for athletes. These small but powerful devices can give you a snapshot of your body’s ability to process oxygen, which is a key factor in performance if you live or train at altitude, or tend to overtrain. Here we’ll investigate how these devices work, and how you might use them to optimize your performance.


Developing IMU Sensors For Capturing Motion In Sports

SABEL's Sports Technology Blog, Julian Chua from

IMU sensors are pretty useful because when strapped to the right location and given the right context they can provide very insightful information about an athlete’s (or anyone’s) movements. In this post, we are going to look at a couple of options in the market that allows us to skip the hardware development and jump right into the application development. Feel free to skip to the different sections that interest you:


Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change

Jason Kottke, Neil Postman from

… The first idea is that all technological change is a trade-off. I like to call it a Faustian bargain. Technology giveth and technology taketh away. This means that for every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage. The disadvantage may exceed in importance the advantage, or the advantage may well be worth the cost. Now, this may seem to be a rather obvious idea, but you would be surprised at how many people believe that new technologies are unmixed blessings. You need only think of the enthusiasms with which most people approach their understanding of computers. Ask anyone who knows something about computers to talk about them, and you will find that they will, unabashedly and relentlessly, extol the wonders of computers. You will also find that in most cases they will completely neglect to mention any of the liabilities of computers. This is a dangerous imbalance, since the greater the wonders of a technology, the greater will be its negative consequences.


S.A.F.E.Clip Absorbs G-Force From Facemask Collisions

AFCA Insider from

… The S.A.F.E.Clip, which is produced by Mayfield Athletics, is a facemask clip designed to dramatically improve the impact-absorbing potential of a standard silicone or plastic facemask clip. It reduces g-force at the point of impact on a facemask that occurs during tackles and collisions. The “magic” takes place inside the patented visco-elastic membrane of the S.A.F.E.Clip, which is housed inside a thermoplastic body.


5 Tenets of Sports Injury Rehabilitation

Excelsior Group (UK) from

… Tenet 1 Start simply

Practise and evaluate locomotor skills in isolation. This means training in single planes and one direction of movement at the start. Work on the fundamentals before athlete specific and specialised movements.

“Criterion based rehab” may be a better method than “timeline” based rehab. Grace uses the single leg squat (SLS) as one criterion. One target is to do 70 sls in a 2 minute span, ideally with a 90degree knee angle, but 70-90 degrees is acceptable. The athlete rests for 2 minutes then repeats, building up to 3 sets total.


Cannabis For The Win: Sports Leagues See The Light On CBD

Forbes, Nick Kovacevich from

Consider it an early win: Basketball’s BIG3 has become the first professional sports league in the United States to allow its athletes to use cannabidiol (CBD), the nonpsychoactive ingredient in cannabis that many people use to manage pain and inflammation.

This announcement, made in June, is great news for athletic — pro and collegiate — organizations that are starting to embrace cannabis’ healing properties. And if they’re not quite embracing them yet, well, at least more seem willing to educate themselves on their athletes’ medical needs and how cannabis (particularly CBD) might help.

That’s pretty much what we’re hearing from pro hockey, which has traditionally been lenient about cannabis use — more so than the highly punitive National Basketball Association and the National Football League. (And perhaps less so than Major League Baseball, which, according to the Huffington Post, “has one of the most progressive marijuana policies in sports,” especially compared to draconian minor league policies.)

Hockey has never necessarily been willing to openly condone cannabis use, though, until last month. National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) executive director Don Fehr said it’s “possible that the NHL and NHLPA could come to an informal understanding about marijuana usage among players in the League in the future.”


Study finds bad luck contributed to Stoke’s Premier League relegation

Football Paradise blog from

Huddersfield and not Stoke would have been relegated from the Premier League last season had luck not been a factor, new research has revealed.

The Terriers finished four points ahead of Stoke in the table, but when incorrect refereeing decisions are taken into account their first season back in the top flight for 45 years would not have had a fairytale ending.

According to the ESPN Luck Index, Stoke lost out on four points due to incidents such as incorrectly disallowed goals, wrongly-awarded penalties and improper red card decisions, while Huddersfield gained two points.


There’s Something for Everyone at Saberseminar

The Sports Post, Andrew Bauer from

… The morning of Day 1 featured heavily on pitching, with a variety of topics including former pitcher Dan Blewett with a discussion on tunneling and pitch sequencing, Jinji Tsutomu discussing the improvement of pitcher skills with technology-based coaching, Lizzie Hibbard discussing injury mitigation in pitchers, and also a Q&A with ex-major leaguer and current Red Sox front office member Brian Bannister.

The highlight of the morning, however, did not focus as much on pitching. Instead it was a presentation by Jonathon Judge on a companion stat to DERA, Deserved Runs Created. DRC should appear on Baseball Prospectus in the next couple of weeks. And, it promises to be one of the best comprehensive hitting stats for overall offensive output. In particular, the DRC+ version (adjusted for parks) looks to be particularly useful. Judge was also quick to back up the data by showing the reliability of the stat for players switching teams as compared with alternative measures such as wOBA or wRC+.


Russell Okung’s vision of guaranteed NFL contracts

ESPN NFL, Eric D. Williams from

… “It’s pretty simple: How much risk are NFL players taking on in correlation to how much money that we’re actually getting that’s real cash?” asked Okung. “I think sometimes people are so swayed by whatever is put out in the media, and you sort of have this little caveat next to it that says guaranteed money. But even with that, there’s tons of ways for teams to offset guaranteed money so that it’s not guaranteed.

“So what we want to make sure is that every player that has the privilege to play in the NFL makes the most that they can in this game. It’s just so sad because there’s so many guys that have played in this game that is susceptible to high rates of injury and have nothing to show for it, and the next thing you know they’re a dementia case.”


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