Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 17, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 17, 2018


Manchester United’s Luke Shaw signs up with Kevin De Bruyne’s nutritionist in bid to tackle weight criticism

Daily Mail Online (UK), Nathan Salt from

Manchester United left-back Luke Shaw has taken his fitness regime to a new level after signing up with Kevin De Bruyne’s nutritionist.

Jonny Marsh, who boasts De Bruyne, Kyle Walker and John Terry among his high-profile clients, has been brought in by Shaw as he looks to build on his promising start to the new campaign.

The 23-year-old has previously come under criticism over his weight but he recently explained that jibes simply spurred him on.


Will J.J. Watt ever be the same? ‘I’m just focused on today’

ESPN NFL, Sarah Barshop from

As the regular season approaches, J.J. Watt knows there are questions about his health and return to the football field. There’s one he has been asked several times this offseason and during training camp.

Even if he can stay healthy, will the Houston Texans’ three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year be able to play at the level he has in the past?

Though Watt has had plenty of time — “the last two years were not fun,” he said — to think about that while he’s spent the past 10 months working his way back from a broken leg, he said he hasn’t given much thought to the answer to that question because “it doesn’t help. It doesn’t do anything for me.”


Dallas Cowboys could find a new competitive edge in yoga

Dallas News, Alan Steelman from

… The conventional wisdom is that yoga is good primarily for the physical benefits, and indeed there are many physical benefits including greater flexibility, strength and balance. Yet, the primary purpose and the greater benefit is to calm the agitated mind. We’re all born with a monkey brain, or a wandering mind that is constantly racing back and forth between regrets about yesterday and worries about tomorrow.

Mind agitation is particularly acute for this generation of young athletes. There is the game inside the lines to be managed and played at a high level of skill and performance, and then an unprecedented game outside the lines, coping with non-stop commentary on their lives and performance. Athletes are at the mercy of 24-7 media coverage, plus the internet trolls who make a sport of online harassment of players and coaches. In the NFL, these young men deal with scrutiny and pressures that previous generations never had to confront.


The big exodus: why are young English players moving abroad?

The Guardian, Ed Aarons from

Jonathan Panzo’s decision to swap Chelsea for Monaco is the latest example of a promising English prospect seeking first-team football abroad rather than at the club that nurtured him


To understand working memory, scientists must resolve this debate

MIT, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory from

… Working memory is how you hold things in mind like the directions to a new restaurant and the list of specials the waiter rattles off after you sit down. Given that working memory capacity is a strong correlate of intelligence and that its dysfunction is a major symptom in common psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, it’s important that the field achieve a true understanding of how it works, said Mikael Lundqvist, a postdoc at MIT’s Picower Institute for Learning and Memory and lead author of one of the papers.

“Working memory deficits are associated with virtually every major psychiatric disorder, but if we can figure out how working memory works, we can figure out how to fix it,” added corresponding author and Picower Professor Earl Miller. “Working memory is the sketchpad of consciousness. Doesn’t everyone want to know how our conscious mind works?”


Muscle ‘Switch’

Harvard Medical School, News from

Some people respond well to both aerobic exercise and strength training, while others don’t. And some of us respond well to only one of those things, but not both.

Harvard Medical School scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center now have uncovered a surprising molecular “switch” that may help to explain this lack of response to exercise and provide clues to better treatments against diabetes.

“We’ve identified an exercise-activated biological pathway that hasn’t been studied at all,” said Sarah Lessard, HMS assistant professor of medicine at Joslin and first author on a paper published in Nature Communications.

Studying both lab animals and humans, Lessard and her colleagues discovered that a protein called JNK helps to drive response to exercise.


Effects of short-term in-season break detraining on repeated-sprint ability and intermittent endurance according to initial performance of soccer player

PLOS One; Fabio Yuzo Nakamura et al. from

To better understand the detraining effects in soccer, the purpose of the study was to analyse if performance level of soccer players modulate repeated-sprint ability (RSA) and intermittent endurance changes during 2-weeks of detraining (i.e., in-season break). Seventeen professional and sixteen young elite soccer players of two different teams performed, before and after 2-weeks of detraining, the RSA test and the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test, level 1 (YYIR1). Before detraining, professional players perform better (p < 0.05) RSA best time (RSAbest) than young players. A decrease (p < 0.05) in RSAbest, RSA total time (RSAtotal) and mean time (RSAmean) performance was observed in both teams, without changes in RSA fatigue index (Sdec). No significant changes in distance covered during YYIR1 was observed in any team. Before detraining, faster players from both teams (FG) (following the median split technique, soccer players with RSAbest ≤ 3.95 s) performed better (p < 0.01) in RSAtotal, RSAmean and RSAbest, but worse (p < 0.01) in Sdec. Although FG and the slower players (SG, RSAbest > 3.95 s) showed a worse (p < 0.05) RSAtotal, RSAbest and RSAmean performance after detraining (ES = 1.5, 1.4 and 2.9; ES = 0.6, 1.2 and 0.6; for FG and SG, respectively), the deterioration was greater in the FG for RSAbest (p < 0.05) and RSAtotal (ES = 1.46). After detraining, FG improved (p < 0.05) Sdec performance. In conclusion, a 2-week in-season break (detraining) period induced a worse RSA, with no effect on intermittent endurance in professional and elite young soccer players, with greater detrimental effects on RSAtotal and RSAbest in FG. In addition, Sdec does not seem to be sensitive to changes in RSA after a 2-week in-season break.


Research Debt

Distill, Chris Olah and Shan Carter from

Achieving a research-level understanding of most topics is like climbing a mountain. Aspiring researchers must struggle to understand vast bodies of work that came before them, to learn techniques, and to gain intuition. Upon reaching the top, the new researcher begins doing novel work, throwing new stones onto the top of the mountain and making it a little taller for whoever comes next.

Mathematics is a striking example of this. For centuries, countless minds have climbed the mountain range of mathematics and laid new boulders at the top. Over time, different peaks formed, built on top of particularly beautiful results. Now the peaks of mathematics are so numerous and steep that no person can climb them all. Even with a lifetime of dedicated effort, a mathematician may only enjoy some of their vistas.

People expect the climb to be hard. It reflects the tremendous progress and cumulative effort that’s gone into mathematics. The climb is seen as an intellectual pilgrimage, the labor a rite of passage. But the climb could be massively easier. It’s entirely possible to build paths and staircases into these mountains. 1 The climb isn’t something to be proud of.

The climb isn’t progress: the climb is a mountain of debt.


Superflex Rebrands As Seismic, Acquires Assets Of Lumo Bodytech: Seismic To Unveil New Prototype Of Powered Clothing™ At TechCrunch Disrupt 2018

Textile World from

Today the company formerly known as Superflex announced it has rebranded as Seismic and acquired the intellectual property (IP) of Lumo Bodytech, a motion science company known for its posture-correcting and fitness devices. Lumo’s legacy products include the Lumo Lift Posture Coach and Lumo Run Running Coach, both designed to track body posture and form to improve everyday movement. The acquisition of Lumo Bodytech IP strategically enhances Seismic’s suit control algorithms with extensive body posture and activity data. Additionally, key members from Lumo’s machine learning and algorithm team will be able to continue their groundbreaking work in motion science as the newest members of the Seismic team.


Flexible and Conductive Mesh for Implantable and Wearable Bioelectronics

Medgadget, Conn Hastings from

Researchers at the Institute of Basic Science in South Korea have developed a highly stretchable bioelectronic mesh patch which can monitor electrophysiological signals, such as heart muscle electrical activity, and can apply electrical and thermal stimulation for therapeutic purposes. The mesh can be implanted, such as around the heart, or can be worn on the skin.

Research into new materials for wearables and implantable medical devices is proceeding rapidly. This latest study demonstrates a new material developed by Korean scientists, which can record electrical signals from tissue or skin it contacts, and deliver stimuli to the area.


Irfan Essa Gives Invited Talk on Computational Video for Sports

Machine Learning @ Georgia Tech from

From the introduction of the “1st and Ten” line in NFL broadcasts in 1998 to the use of the Hawk-Eye system for line calls in tennis and cricket, sports viewers now expect to see graphics on their screens to help explain the action.

Irfan Essa, director of the Machine Learning Center at Georgia Tech (ML@GT), recently gave an invited talk, Computational Video for Sports: Challenges for Large-Scale Video Analysis, detailing why technology areas such as computer vision and augmented reality are so prevalent in sports broadcasts. During his talk, which took place at the 4th International Workshop on Computer Vision in Sports (CVsports) in June, he also discussed the challenges that computer vision scientists face when creating technology to improve the sports industry.


How does endurance sport affect your digestive system?

220Triathlon, Stephen Smith from

… How does exercise affect the gut?

Whilst the underlying mechanisms behind the occurrence of GI symptoms (in response to exercise) are not fully understood, research has discovered that exercise causes a plethora of changes within the gut.

Due to physiological and hormonal responses, exercise can lead to a cascade of events which can affect the integrity and function of the gut. When you start training, blood flow is redistributed away from the gut towards the periphery and working muscle to aid thermoregulation and muscle metabolism. The amount of blood going to your gut can decrease by 20% within 10 minutes, reaching up to 80% after one hour of running. When you stop exercising, it takes approximately 10 minutes for blood flow to return to normal levels [2].

Dutch researchers have highlighted that this redistribution results in a lower amount of blood in the abdominal area and with less blood available, oxygen availability is reduced, leading to a condition known as splanchnic hypoperfusion [3] (hypoperfusion means decreased blood flow through an organ).


Eliminating the Limit

Ben Falk, Cleaning the Glass blog from

… Here is my proposal for a path forward, a result of examining the track record of past high school players who entered the draft, diving into the challenges the league faced in that time, and attempting to address these challenges with proactive rule changes.

The High School Era

When Kevin Garnett decided to forgo college and declare for the 1995 draft straight out of high school, it started a trend. From that point until the age limit was instituted after the 2005 draft, 39 players were selected directly from high school. Enough time has passed now that we can look back at this era and assess the careers of those players who declared for the draft out of high school compared to those who went to Division 1 schools.

Here’s what’s clear: there is no evidence to support the argument that high school players are more likely to fail out of the league than their college-attending counterparts. In fact, counter to the prevailing narrative, these players were a wild success. There were certainly draft busts and players who didn’t fully live up to expectations, but that’s the case with all players, no matter their age. That’s simply the nature of the draft.



GitHub – bdilday from

This package defines a couple of Geoms to draw MLB stadiums in ggplot2. It also provides a Geom to draw a “spraychart” – x and y locations of batted balls with a stadium overlay.


The stats that show why Man City will retain the Premier League

Wired UK, Omar Chaudhuri from

This summer marked the end of England fans’ recent apathy with international football after the national team’s surprise run to the World Cup semi-finals. After years of being the primary focus of fans’ attentions, suddenly the Premier League has something to live up to.

Omar Chaudhuri, head of football intelligence at the performance analysis firm, tells us what to expect from the world’s richest football league.


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