Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 9, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 9, 2018


Optimum Performance: Saints wise to be cautious with Cameron Meredith, Mackie Shilstone from

Going into training camp, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton said new wide receiver Cameron Meredith was healthy and ready for camp — referring to Meredith’s recovery from a torn ACL and MCL suffered last preseason. Meredith was limited during OTAs and minicamp but avoided the “physically unable to perform” list to start camp.

“He’s (Meredith) going to go and practice, and yet we’ll be smart (about workload),” said Payton — a smart call since current research points out that, though patients generally do well following ACL reconstruction, only about 60 percent of athletes return to pre-injury levels and 44 percent return to a high level of competitive play.


Golden era of Canadian men’s tennis arrives at Rogers Cup, Damien Cox from

… This is Canadian tennis history in the making. With no Roger Federer, and no Andy Murray for that matter, the spotlight couldn’t be any greater on this story.

Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime will play doubles on centre court this afternoon, and they won’t be playing any tomato cans. It’ll be Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson, the two men who battled it out for the Wimbledon crown last month, on the other side of the net.

Shapovalov is already a top-30 player, and there are many who believe his younger buddy, Auger-Aliassime, will be just as good. Maybe better. While Raonic surprised many with his rapid ascent up the ATP ladder to a high of No. 3 in the world, Tennis Canada has been uber-excited about Shapovalov and Aliassime for some time.


ASN article: With a tough journey behind him, Gatt aims for a reboot in a familiar place

American Soccer Now, Brian Sciaretta from

AS ADULTS, everyone comes to realize that life can be cruel. It is also true that the sport of soccer can also be very cruel. Over the past five years, Josh Gatt has gone through a lot as a player and as a human. But through perseverance, things are starting to look upward for the Michigan native.

It wasn’t long ago when Gatt’s career was off to a strong start in 2010. He lasted only a few months at his first club, SCR Altach, which was playing in the second tier in Austria. During his brief time in Austria caught the eye of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the former Manchester United great who recently became the head coach at Molde in Norway.

With Gatt’s blazing speed, he helped Molde win its first two Norwegian titles ever in 2011 and 2012 and his first U.S. national team callups soon followed. There were also rumors he was going to train with Manchester United after the 2013 Norwegian season.

But then came a downward spiral.


Thank You, San Antonio

The Player's Tribune, Tony Parker from

… I played maybe the most brutal basketball in my life, at the worst moment possible, right in front of Coach Pop and all of them. Pop and R.C., they had brought in this guy named Lance Blanks, a former NBA player, to run my workout, and he just dominated me. He made me look … well, he made me look like the teenage kid that I was.

And I guess I bring this story up because, you know — a lot of people, they think of Coach Popovich as this “hard-ass” guy. But I’ll tell you, it’s funny: I might not have even made it to the league at all if Pop had not decided to give me a second chance to make a first impression on him. He invited me back in for another workout, and I made sure not to mess it up. I played a lot better against Lance this time. He still gave it to me pretty good, but I held my own a little bit. And I think I showed off some of the things that I could do on the court. And man, it’s crazy. Because the next thing you know, I’m watching the draft, and it’s — With the 28th pick in the 2001 Draft, the San Antonio Spurs select Tony Parker, of Racing Club Paris, France.

In other words: I got the job 🙂

And now it’s 17 years later — and I almost can’t even believe it, you know?


Fitness level sustains Crew late in season

Columbus Dispatch, Andrew Erickson from

Crew SC’s fitness level is noticeable in spurts.

Coach Gregg Berhalter said Monday that he often notices the product of a tough training camp during preseason and early-season competition, when the Crew is able to push late in games against teams that are still finding their wind.

To center back Josh Williams, games this season that forced the Crew to deal with adversity — including scoreless road ties against Seattle and Kansas City, both of which featured a Crew SC red card in the first half — have served as indicators of the team’s fitness.

Right back Harrison Afful draws on a higher fitness base week by week as he enjoys a healthy season after a 2017 campaign in which he missed chunks of time because of a handful of nagging injuries.

Better fitness than the opponent means different things to different Crew players, but a staple of the Crew’s typical season arc under Berhalter has been a late-season push.


A Standardized Small Sided Game Can Be Used to Monitor Neuromuscular Fatigue in Professional A-League Football Players

Frontiers in Physiology journal from

Introduction: Training and competition load can cause neuromuscular fatigue (NMF) and modified movement strategy such as an increase in the contribution of the medio-lateral [PlayerLoadTMML(%)] and decrease in the % vertical [PlayerLoadTMV(%)] vectors, to total PlayerLoadTM (accelerometer derived measurement in vertical, medio-lateral, and anterior-posterior planes) in matches. NMF assessment involves expensive equipment, however, given the modification of match movement strategy with NMF, this may be present in a standardized drill. The aim of this study was to determine the utility of a small sided game (SSG) for the measurement of NMF.

Materials and Methods: Data was collected throughout a competitive football season. External load was quantified using global positioning system (GPS) and accelerometry, and internal load by session rating of perceived exertion (sRPE). A 5 vs. 5 SSG and countermovement jump (CMJ), for determination of flight time:contraction time (FT:CT), were performed the day prior to each match. Weekly volume from GPS, PlayerLoadTM and sRPE were calculated across the season. Weekly SSG activity profile and FT:CT was compared between “high” and “low” load weeks determined relative to season average. SSG activity profile was assessed between weeks where FT:CT was above or below pre-season baseline. Impact on match activity profile was examined between weeks where FT:CT and SSG activity profile were higher or lower than baseline. The difference (high vs. low load and < or > pre-season baseline) was calculated using the effect size (ES) ± 90% CI and practically important if there was a >75% likelihood of exceeding an ES of 0.2.

Results: All weekly load metrics increased SSG PlayerLoadTM⋅m⋅min-1 when above season average, however, the impact on FT:CT was trivial. Reduced weekly FT:CT compared to baseline resulted in lower SSG PlayerLoadTM⋅min-1 and PlayerLoadTMSlow⋅min-1. FT:CT below baseline increased match PlayerLoadTMML(%) and decreased PlayerLoadTMV(%) during subsequent match play. Similarly, a reduction in SSG PlayerLoadTM⋅m⋅min-1 was followed by increased match PlayerLoadTMML(%).

Conclusion: Changes in select match activity profile variables following a reduction in SSG PlayerLoadTM m.min-1, mirror those seen when FT:CT is reduced. Increased PlayerLoadTMML(%) during matches likely represents fatigue driven modification to movement strategy. Small-sided games may be a useful tool to detect NMF. [full text]


Damaging nature of decelerations: Do we adequately prepare players?

BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine journal from

An evolving understanding of match demands

Frequent and intense accelerations and decelerations are crucial elements of match play. Both accelerations and decelerations expose players to high levels of mechanical stress, are recognised as key contributors to overall biomechanical load, and may exert a significant impact on performance potential (eg, ability to sustain high force output and attenuation). Consequently, accelerations and decelerations are recognised as important variables to monitor.

The use of newly available motion tracking technologies has permitted a more comprehensive characterisation of the external loads associated with whole-body biomechanical loading. This information can, in turn, be used to inform and refine training prescription and management processes. Although evidence suggests that the mechanical stressors imposed during accelerating and decelerating activities are fundamentally different, current recommendations for optimal load monitoring seemingly treat the consequences of these loads—in terms of potential tissue damage and subsequent adaptations—as equivalent. Evolving an optimally perceptive load monitoring paradigm, however, demands that if different loading activities impose differentially and disproportionately damaging consequences, we should identify the external loads posing the most significant threats to both performance and injury risk, and weigh them accordingly. [full text]


How data can revolutionize personal health care

University of Calgary, Explore UCalgray from

… [Reed] Ferber and other researchers have already been collecting wearable sensor data from UCalgary marathon groups for the last two years. “So we have a full data set for them,” Ferber says. In 2017, they started collecting data from a new group of marathoners. This year, they began working with and collecting data from marathon training groups at The Running Room, a Canadian retail shop that holds running clinics. Ferber is also partnering with UCalgary Dinos Athletics to do the same for varsity athletes – and, ideally, every Olympic, intramural and recreational athlete that wants to participate, too.

The researchers have started their data collection efforts with athletes because permission to collect the data is only needed from the athlete and the coach – plus, athletes have the extra incentive of wanting to maximize every legitimate tool and piece of data they can to help them improve their performance.

Ferber, who is leading a new Sensor Technology in Monitoring Movement research program, wants to generate a one-of-a-kind data set comprising millions of data points from hundreds of athletes. It will be added to each year – and it will be available to students and researchers for study and analysis.


Introducing the latest in textiles: Soft hardware

MIT News from

The latest development in textiles and fibers is a kind of soft hardware that you can wear: cloth that has electronic devices built right into it.

Researchers at MIT have now embedded high speed optoelectronic semiconductor devices, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and diode photodetectors, within fibers that were then woven at Inman Mills, in South Carolina, into soft, washable fabrics and made into communication systems. This marks the achievement of a long-sought goal of creating “smart” fabrics by incorporating semiconductor devices — the key ingredient of modern electronics — which until now was the missing piece for making fabrics with sophisticated functionality.

This discovery, the researchers say, could unleash a new “Moore’s Law” for fibers — in other words, a rapid progression in which the capabilities of fibers would grow rapidly and exponentially over time, just as the capabilities of microchips have grown over decades.


Ricocheting Radio Waves Monitor the Tiniest Movements in a Room

Duke University, Pratt School of Engineering from

Relief may be on the horizon for anyone who has ever jumped around a room like a jack-in-the-box to get motion-sensing lights to turn back on. A new motion sensor based on metamaterials is sensitive enough to monitor a person’s breathing.

In a pair of new studies, researchers from Duke University and Institut Langevin, France, have shown that patterns made by radio waves can detect a person’s presence and location anywhere inside a room.


[1805.07888] DeepPhys: Video-Based Physiological Measurement Using Convolutional Attention Networks

arXiv, Computer Science > Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition; Weixuan Chen, Daniel McDuff from

Non-contact video-based physiological measurement has many applications in health care and human-computer interaction. Practical applications require measurements to be accurate even in the presence of large head rotations. We propose the first end-to-end system for video-based measurement of heart and breathing rate using a deep convolutional network. The system features a new motion representation based on a skin reflection model and a new attention mechanism using appearance information to guide motion estimation, both of which enable robust measurement under heterogeneous lighting and major motions. Our approach significantly outperforms all current state-of-the-art methods on both RGB and infrared video datasets. Furthermore, it allows spatial-temporal distributions of physiological signals to be visualized via the attention mechanism.


Balancing Your Energy Sources: There’s No Magic Formula |, Running, Matt Fitzgerald from

… “Percentages are meaningless, because it is the absolute amount of carbohydrate and protein that matters,” says Asker Jeukendrup, PhD, an exercise physiologist at the University of Birmingham in England and one of the world’s leading experts on the effects of different amounts of carbohydrate and protein intake on endurance performance. “How much you need depends on your goals and the amount of training you do.”

In other words, what matters is not the relative proportions of carbs, fat, and protein you eat but the basic quantity measured as total calories or grams. And since macronutrient needs vary depending on training volume, there is no single macronutrient ratio that could possibly meet the needs of every athlete.


LIVE: Brown’s Herz Explains “Why You Eat What You Eat”

GoLocal Prov from

Smell is one of the most taken for granted senses, says Dr. Rachel Herz, a researcher at Brown and leading expert on the science of smell.

Herz’s new book, “Why You Eat What You Eat,” delves into how smell affects how we perceive and enjoy food.

“Taste is pretty much entirely comprised of smell,” Herz said on GoLocal LIVE. “Aside from the basics: sweet, sour, bitter, and salt, everything else comes from the scent.”

Herz used bacon as an example of smell’s important role in taste. Aside from the salty taste of the meat, everything else that makes bacon, bacon: the smell, the nuances of flavor, comes from its smell. [video, 12:12]


Decision Trees Decoded: Part 1 – Towards Data Science

Towards Data Science, Georgios Drakos from

Decision Trees were invented more than 70 years ago, and nowadays they are among the most powerful Machine Learning tools. Main advantage of DTs is that they are a “white-box” method. It means that we can easily explain their decisions, in contrast to the Neural Networks whose complexity is usually too high.

Learned trees can also be represented as sets of if-then rules to improve human readability. The goal of this article is to cover the basic theoretical foundation of decision tree learning and present the ID3 (Iterative Dichotomiser 3) algorithm.


Data-Driven? Think again – Hacker Noon

Hacker Noon, Cassie Kozyrkov from

… Turns out humans interact with data selectively to confirm choices we’ve already made in our heart of hearts. We find the most convenient light in which to see evidence, and we don’t always know we’re doing it. Psychologists have a lovely name for this: confirmation bias.

Many people only use data to feel better about decisions they’ve already made.


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