Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 16, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 16, 2018


16-year-old George Bello vying for first-team minutes with Atlanta United

Gwinnett Daily Post, Taylor Denman from

It was a pair of Atlanta United homegrown products, Andrew Carleton and George Bello, that carried bags of soccer ball off the field after practice.

Carleton turned 18 years old in June and Bello turned 16 in January. They’re two of the youngest players on the team, but are starting to break into the first team. Carleton has 90 minutes of action in five appearances, including one start. Bello, who recently returned from a hip injury that sidelined since April 22, saw his first 45 minutes of action with Atlanta United 2 during a start against Charleston Battery on Saturday. He had logged 239 professional minutes since he debuted with Atlanta United 2 on April 1. Prior to his start against Charleston, however, he was on Atlanta United’s first team 18-man active roster against Toronto FC.

Post-training chores may be a gentle reminder that Bello at just 16 years old is no longer an academy farmhand. He’s vying for meaningful minutes as the first team makes its final push for the MLS Supporters Shield.


Texans LB Brian Peters earns praise for sports science diet

USA Today, TexansWire, Cole Thompson from

Players on the roster bubble always should find ways to stay on the positive side of the limelight. All indications is that Texans linebacker, Brian Peters is on the right track to remain apart of the plan moving into 2018.

Before training camp, Peters was featured in a Men’s Health article, speaking of his new diet and sport science intake. Texans coach Bill O’Brien praised Peters for his ability to take care of his body during the past several off-season’s Tuesday morning.

“Obviously, he’s (Peters) a better one to talk to about that than me,” O’Brien said. “I mean, I don’t really know too much about what he does. I know that he really does a great job of taking care of his body – I think Luke (Richesson) has – and his crew – have done a great job of educating guys on those things – Ladd (Harris) our nutritionist.”


Jaguars use Tommy Bohanon’s work ethic to create winning identity

News-Press (Fort Myers, FL), Craig Handel from

… Bohanon began a routine.

Up at 5.

Sprint and agility work at 6.

About 4-5 hours working in his family’s concrete business.

Then a workout with local high school players in the afternoon. Sometimes a third workout at night. He also worked out on weekends. The garage turned into a workout room.

“Not being on a team and going out and playing on Sunday, right there that gave me motivation,” Bohanon said. “I probably logged more miles than I would’ve during a season.”


People with strong self-control experience less intense bodily states like hunger and fatigue

The British Psychological Society, Research Digest, Christian Jarrett from

You may think of people with high self-control as having enviable reserves of willpower, but recent findings suggest this isn’t the case. Instead it seems the strong-willed are canny folk, adept at avoiding temptation in the first place. A new study in the journal Self and Identity builds on this picture, showing that people high in self-control tend to experience less intense visceral states, like fatigue, hunger and stress (states that are known to encourage impulsive behaviour).

The new findings make sense: after all, it is much easier to be in control of your decisions if you are organised enough to ensure your animalistic needs rarely become overpowering.


Decision-making in sensorimotor control

Nature Reviews Neuroscience journal from

Skilled sensorimotor interactions with the world result from a series of decision-making processes that determine, on the basis of information extracted during the unfolding sequence of events, which movements to make and when and how to make them. Despite this inherent link between decision-making and sensorimotor control, research into each of these two areas has largely evolved in isolation, and it is only fairly recently that researchers have begun investigating how they interact and, together, influence behaviour. Here, we review recent behavioural, neurophysiological and computational research that highlights the role of decision-making processes in the selection, planning and control of goal-directed movements in humans and nonhuman primates.


Arne Duncan on ‘How Schools Work’ and How to Fix Them

The Atlantic, Alia Wong from

Arne Duncan, the former education secretary under President Barack Obama, has always been more candid than others who’ve served in that role. He’s often used his platform to talk about what he sees as the persistent socioeconomic and racial disparities in access to quality schools. His new book, How Schools Work: An Inside Account of Failure and Success From One of the Nation’s Longest-Serving Secretaries of Education, further cements that reputation. How Schools Work’s first chapter is titled “Lies, Lies Everywhere.” The first sentence: “Education runs on lies.” If one were to create a word cloud of the book, lies would probably pop out as one of the most frequently used words. Duncan writes that even the countless fantastic schools across the country “haven’t managed to defeat the lies that undermine our system so much as they’ve been able to circumvent them.” These lies, according to Duncan, include a culture of setting low expectations for high schoolers who later discover they’re not prepared for the real world, and poorly designed accountability systems that allow teachers to fudge their students’ test-score results.


An Underappreciated Key to College Success: Sleep

The New York Times, Jane E. Brody from

… Studies have shown that sleep quantity and sleep quality equal or outrank such popular campus concerns as alcohol and drug use in predicting student grades and a student’s chances of graduating.

Although in one survey 60 percent of students said they wanted information from their colleges on how to manage sleep problems, few institutions of higher learning do anything to counter the devastating effects of sleep deprivation on academic success and physical and emotional well-being. Some, in fact, do just the opposite, for example, providing 24-hour library hours that encourage students to pull all-nighters.


While We Sleep, Our Mind Goes on an Amazing Journey

National Geographic, Michael Finkel from

Yet an imbalance between lifestyle and sun cycle has become epidemic. “It seems as if we are now living in a worldwide test of the negative consequences of sleep deprivation,” says Robert Stickgold, director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition at Harvard Medical School. The average American today sleeps less than seven hours a night, about two hours less than a century ago. This is chiefly due to the proliferation of electric lights, followed by televisions, computers, and smartphones. In our restless, floodlit society, we often think of sleep as an adversary, a state depriving us of productivity and play. Thomas Edison, who gave us light bulbs, said that “sleep is an absurdity, a bad habit.” He believed we’d eventually dispense with it entirely.
Video: On Dreaming
How Explorers Sleep in Extreme Spots
Debunking the Belief That if You Snooze, You Lose

A full night’s sleep now feels as rare and old-fashioned as a handwritten letter. We all seem to cut corners, fighting insomnia through sleeping pills, guzzling coffee to slap away yawns, ignoring the intricate journey we’re designed to take each evening. On a good night, we cycle four or five times through several stages of sleep, each with distinct qualities and purpose—a serpentine, surreal descent into an alternative world.


How Do Expectations Shape Perception?

Trends in Cognitive Sciences journal from

Expectations play a strong role in determining the way we perceive the world.

Prior expectations can originate from multiple sources of information, and correspondingly have different neural sources, depending on where in the brain the relevant prior knowledge is stored.

Recent findings from both human neuroimaging and animal electrophysiology have revealed that prior expectations can modulate sensory processing at both early and late stages, and both before and after stimulus onset. The response modulation can take the form of either dampening the sensory representation or enhancing it via a process of sharpening.

Theoretical computational frameworks of neural sensory processing aim to explain how the probabilistic integration of prior expectations and sensory inputs results in perception.


Amazing New Brain Map of Every Synapse Points to the Roots of Thinking

SingularityHub, Shelly Fan from

… “There are more synapses in a human brain than there are stars in the galaxy. The brain is the most complex object we know of and understanding its connections at this level is a major step forward in unravelling its mysteries,” said lead author Dr. Seth Grant at the Center for Clinical Brain Sciences.

The detailed maps revealed a fundamental law of brain activity. With the help of machine learning, the team categorized roughly one billion synapses across the brain into 37 sub-types. Here’s the kicker: when sets of neurons receive electrical information, such as trying to decide between different solutions for a problem, unique sub-types of synapses spread out among different neurons unanimously spark with activity.

In other words: synapses come in types. And each type may control a thought, a decision, or a memory.

The neuroscience Twittersphere blew up.

“Whoa,” commented Dr. Ben Saunders simply at the University of Minnesota.


How intermittent breaks in interaction improve collective intelligence

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Ethan Bernstein, Jesse Shore, and David Lazer from

People influence each other when they interact to solve problems. Such social influence introduces both benefits (higher average solution quality due to exploitation of existing answers through social learning) and costs (lower maximum solution quality due to a reduction in individual exploration for novel answers) relative to independent problem solving. In contrast to prior work, which has focused on how the presence and network structure of social influence affect performance, here we investigate the effects of time. We show that when social influence is intermittent it provides the benefits of constant social influence without the costs. Human subjects solved the canonical traveling salesperson problem in groups of three, randomized into treatments with constant social influence, intermittent social influence, or no social influence. Groups in the intermittent social-influence treatment found the optimum solution frequently (like groups without influence) but had a high mean performance (like groups with constant influence); they learned from each other, while maintaining a high level of exploration. Solutions improved most on rounds with social influence after a period of separation. We also show that storing subjects’ best solutions so that they could be reloaded and possibly modified in subsequent rounds—a ubiquitous feature of personal productivity software—is similar to constant social influence: It increases mean performance but decreases exploration.


How a Computer Learns To Dribble: Practice, Practice, Practice

Carnegie Mellon University, News from

Basketball players need lots of practice before they master the dribble, and it turns out that’s true for computer-animated players as well. By using deep reinforcement learning, players in video basketball games can glean insights from motion capture data to sharpen their dribbling skills.

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and DeepMotion Inc., a California company that develops smart avatars, have for the first time developed a physics-based, real-time method for controlling animated characters that can learn dribbling skills from experience. In this case, the system learns from motion capture of the movements performed by people dribbling basketballs.

This trial-and-error learning process is time consuming, requiring millions of trials, but the results are arm movements that are closely coordinated with physically plausible ball movement. Players learn to dribble between their legs, dribble behind their backs and do crossover moves, as well as how to transition from one skill to another.

“Once the skills are learned, new motions can be simulated much faster than real-time,” said Jessica Hodgins, Carnegie Mellon professor of computer science and robotics.


Real Time Data from Garmin Creates Powerful Experience for Users

Garmin Blog from

Do you want to leverage the power of real-time data from Garmin wearables in your mobile app and create innovative experiences for your users? Now you can using the Garmin Health Companion SDK for Android and Apple devices.

Garmin wearables produce a variety of metrics that can be used to enhance and promote a healthy lifestyle. Features built on this rich data can motivate users to be more active, provide insights about their stress levels, and help improve their workout performance.

This same sensor data can now be streamed to third-party apps using the Garmin Health Companion SDK, allowing you to create custom features for your users with minimal development.


Evolve or Die: Manchester City’s quest for innovation to breed domination

City Watch blog, Ben Golding from

… “How do you see yourselves getting improvement this season?”

“Have you got new tactical ideas, or is it more of what you did last season, but doing it better?”

Guardiola shrugs, and responds:

“People ask ‘can you improve on 100 points’ and I say no because we are not here to do that. However, individually the players can improve. You can improve with your right and with your left. There are many, many examples. Where you can improve depends on the tactics and the quality of the players. […] But still, we believe we can do better and dominate more. We believe we can do it.”


Rays Disrupt Baseball’s Tanking Industry by — Get This — Trying to Win

The New York Times, Tyler Kepner from

The Tampa Bay Rays are a little like the Whos down in Who-ville in “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” They lose all their possessions on Christmas morning, and yet — what’s that sound, way down in the valley? They’re actually singing!

By the looks of their roster, the Rays sure seem to have given up hope. Since last December, they have traded a dozen prominent veterans, including five former All-Stars. They look like just another team tanking the present for a better future.

So how did the Rays arrive at Yankee Stadium with a winning record in the middle of August? For the answer, consider their starting pitcher on Tuesday: Hunter Wood, a rookie who has never pitched more than three innings. It was the 32nd time in the last three months that the Rays had used an opener to start.


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