Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 21, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 21, 2018


This belief is Simply WRONG!

Twitter, Tim Hewitt from

I believe that strengthening the muscles around the ACL can help with prevention, but I think non-contact torn ACL’s (which makeup about 85% of them) are simply a case of bad luck.


More NFL players embracing yoga

The Press Democrat, AP, Terry Waack from

… “It’s funny doing it as a team because a lot of guys haven’t done it,” Wheeler said. “It makes me feel proud in a way. Like guys that are way more athletic than me, I can bend better than them in certain positions.”

Football players don’t fit the mold of a yogi, someone who regularly practices yoga. They’re large athletes with sculpted muscles from countless hours of lifting and conditioning. Most do not look capable of the contortions required of the ancient discipline, such as standing on one foot with the other propped up on their knee in a tree pose for an extended period without falling over.

Yet in recent years, the presence of yoga has grown in the NFL. The fast-paced, hard-hitting sport has accepted the more calming practice that emphasizes conscious breathing and body flow. Much like yin and yang, the two complement each other both mentally and physically.


Speed it up to slow it down | How to lower your resting heart rate

Polar Blog, Maria Selin from

While during workouts, our goal is often to pick the heart rate up and keep it fast, the opposite is true for when we are done: we want the heart to settle at a comfortable, slow pace. Resting heart rate matters, and luckily there are things we can do to decrease the heart’s workload.

Miguel Indurain, the five-time Tour De France -winning cyclist, was reported to have a resting heart rate (RHR) of 28 beats per minute. To put that in perspective, sit or lay down, get comfortable, put your middle and index finger on your wrist, and measure your own resting heart rate. Chances are yours will be at least twice as high as Indurain’s.


How our brains predict where speedy objects will go

Futurity, University of Melbourne from

… to make it possible to swat a fly or catch a moving ball, the brain has developed a way to overcome this lag. This means we are unaware of this delay and can interact with even rapidly moving objects extremely efficiently.

Researchers investigated this phenomenon and found that the delay with which people make eye movements to a target predicts where they perceive the target, and some people do this better than others.

Hinze Hogendoorn, senior research fellow in the School of Psychological Science at the University of Melbourne, says the brain then works out what the target will do next.

“The cool thing about that is that the brain apparently ‘knows’ how long the eye movement is going to take, uses that to calculate in which direction to send the eye movement, and also uses that same signal to tell awareness where the object is in the first place,” Hogendoorn explains.


Why are elite female footballers barred from playing with men?

Wired UK, Victoria Turk from

… The PDL is far from alone in its conviction that men and women shouldn’t play football together. Labbé is not even the first female player to be barred from joining a men’s team – in 2004, Fifa stopped Mexican club Atlético Celaya from signing female player Maribel Dominguez, stating that “there must be a clear separation between men’s and women’s football”. In England, the FA allows girls and boys to play together up to age 18, but segregates by gender after that.

Physical performance

A common argument against men and women playing together is that they simply have different physical characteristics and abilities. Paul Bradley, a sports scientist at Liverpool John Moores University, has led several studies looking at female football players’ performance, including a 2013 paper that compared aspects of match performance between male and female players competing in the UEFA Champions League. Here, Bradley and his co-authors noted some common trends. Male players covered a slightly higher total distance than female players during games, Bradley explains, but the difference was small.


Apple is beefing up a team to explore making its own health chips

CNBC, Jordan Novet and Christina Farr from

Apple has a team exploring a custom processor that can make better sense of health information coming off sensors from deep inside its devices, job listings show.

The effort hints at Apple’s ability to pump out custom chips on as-needed basis, reflecting a greater level of vertical integration than other technology companies. Building custom chips for narrow functions can help Apple add new features and improve efficiency of its hardware while protecting its intellectual property from would-be imitators.

A July 10 job posting from Apple’s Health Sensing hardware team says, “We are looking for sensor ASIC architects to help develop ASICs for new sensors and sensing systems for future Apple products. We have openings for analog as well as digital ASIC architects.”


Exclusive: Google is developing a wearable health and fitness assistant called ‘Google Coach’

AndroidPolice, Ryan Whitwam from

Google has launched numerous products infused with AI technology, and it looks like health and fitness is its next target. Google is working on a health and wellbeing coach fittingly called “Google Coach.” The name could change before launch, but Google already has a lot of ideas in the pipeline for how this service will work.

Google Coach won’t just be an exercise tracker, but helping you stay active is a big part of its job. Coach, which is also known internally as Project Wooden, will leverage the data Google has about you to deliver health and fitness data proactively. It may recommend workout routines, track your progress, and recommend alternatives if you miss a planned workout. When you do hit the gym, Coach can log your activity and use that data to inform future suggestions.


How HomeCourt Plans to Make Everyone in the World a Better Basketball Player, Rohan Nadkarni from

If you’re an NBA fan, chances are you’ve seen your favorite player post some kind of workout video to Instagram during the offseason. (“It’s just work,” a teammate will inevitably add in the comments.) After all, every basketball obsessive, from high schooler to 15-year pro, is constantly working to improve their game. And now, hoopheads looking for another training advantage can simply use their phone—with the help of some artificial intelligence—to receive immediate feedback on their latest shooting session.

HomeCourt, an app that counts Mark Cuban, Sam Hinkie, Steve Nash, and Jeremy Lin among its investors, uses A.I. to track and chart your shooting during an individual workout. The app requires some setup, namely a phone or tablet and most often a tripod, but from there it’s rather easy to use. You record your workout on the court of your choosing, and HomeCourt will tell you your number of makes, misses, your hot zones, and splice individual videos of every single one of your shots—with a chance to even view them in slow motion.


Cool tennis-tracking app

Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science blog, Andrew Gelman from

… Swupnil Sahai writes that he’s developed Swing, “the best app for tracking all of your tennis stats, and maybe we’ll expand to other sports in the future.”

According to Swupnil, the app runs on Apple Watch making predictions in real time. I hope in the future they’ll incorporate some hierarchical modeling to deal with sparse-data situations.


This $2,995 home gym is like Peloton for weight-lifting

Fast Company, Katharine Schwab from

Tonal, a new strength training device that uses an engine to create resistance instead of heavy metal disks, looks just like a vertical flat screen television and wouldn’t be out of place on the wall of your apartment. When you’re ready to work out, you turn on the device and pull out two adjustable arms that enable you to do 200 different exercises. After the trainers on the screen run you through an initial baseline test, Tonal pre-sets the weight, up to 200 pounds, for every exercise, automatically cataloging and tracking your progress as you curl, lift, and squat.


Workload and non-contact injury incidence in elite football players competing in European leagues

European Journal of Sport Science from

Purpose: The aim of this study was to analyse the relationship between absolute and acute:chronic workload ratios and non-contact injury incidence in professional football players and to assess their predictive ability. Methods: Elite football players (n = 130) from five teams competing in European domestic and confederation level competitions were followed during one full competitive season. Non-contact injuries were recorded and using session rate of perceived exertion (s-RPE) internal absolute workload and acute:chronic (A:C) workload ratios (4-weeks, 3-weeks, 2-weeks and week-to-week) were calculated using a rolling days method. Results: The relative risk (RR) of non-contact injury was increased (RR = 1.59, CI95%: 1.18–2.15) when a cumulative 4-week absolute workload was greater than 10629 arbitrary units (AU) in comparison with a workload between 3745 and 10628 AU. When the 3-week absolute workload was more than 8319 AU versus between 2822 and 8318 AU injury risk was also increased (RR= 1.46, CI95% 1.08–1.98). Injury incidence was higher when the 4-week A:C ratio was <0.85 versus >0.85 (RR = 1.31, CI95%: 1.02–1.70) and with a 3-week A:C ratio >1.30 versus <1.30 (RR = 1.37, CI95%: 1.05–1.77). Importantly, none of the A:C workload combinations showed high sensitivity or specificity. Conclusions: In elite European footballers, using internal workload (sRPE) revealed that cumulative workloads over 3 and 4 weeks were associated with injury incidence. Additionally, A:C workloads, using combinations of 2, 3 and 4 weeks as the C workloads were also associated with increased injury risk. No A:C workload combination was appropriate to predict injury.


Pep Guardiola and the ‘Messi of medicine’

Training Ground Guru, Simon Austin from

If you’ve been watching the compelling Manchester City documentary, All or Nothing, then you’ll have seen a lot of Dr Ramon Cugat.

Every time a City player suffers a significant injury, he’s sent to visit the grey-haired, bespectacled doctor at his clinic in Barcelona.

During the documentary we see Benjamin Mendy at the Quiron Hospital following knee surgery, cheering on his team-mates from the confines of his hospital bed.

Later on, John Stones is face down on a treatment table as a large needle is injected into his hamstrings. Both players were accompanied to Barcelona by City’s head physio, Lee Nobes, who we can see standing watching on with arms folded.

Cugat, a former Barcelona youth player, is a knee specialist, but City send their players to him no matter what their injury, such is Guardiola’s trust in his fellow Catalan.


The Architecture of Sports – From signature golf courses to street basketball courts: fields of play are laboratories of spatial invention.

Places Journal, Richard Cleary from

… I’ve found myself thinking more about spatial practice in sports. There are in fact many things that draw us fans to sporting events. There’s the potential for mayhem. The camaraderie of rooting for the home team. The dramatic tension of competition: golfers matching each other shot for shot in a championship tournament; a tied score in the late minutes of a soccer match; a pitching duel in baseball. All contribute to making the games not only athletic contests but also aesthetic experiences — experiences which I would argue are best understood in terms of spatial elements.

The spatial practices of sports involve two interrelated factors: the frame and the performance. The frame is the physical arrangement of the playing field: the expanse of a golf course, the confines of a squash court, etc. The performance consists of the dynamics of play: fencers’ feints to gain an advantage measured in the fractions of an inch, baseball players compressing the infield to cover a bunted ball, football players expanding the gridiron with a spread offense. Not to mention the alchemical creation of open space by a Johan Cruyff in soccer or a Michael Jordan in basketball. Whether the manicured grass of a championship stadium or a patch of schoolyard, fields of play are laboratories of spatial invention in which athletes devise and spectators witness creative responses to the constraints of the setting and the actions of teammates and opponents.


Evaluation of Muscle Injuries in Professional Football Players: Does Coach Replacement Affect the Injury Rate? – PubMed – NCBI

Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine from


To assess the incidence and characteristics of muscle injuries in professional football players and to assess if coach dismissal may be related with muscle injuries within 1-month period from the dismissal.

Prospective cohort study during 3 consecutive seasons.

Turkish Super League football teams.

One hundred eighteen male football players.

Data on time-loss muscle injuries confirmed using magnetic resonance imaging were recorded, including type, body part, duration, and lay-off time, and training session and match exposure times. The muscle injury rate was evaluated at 2 weeks and 30 days after coach dismissal.

In total, 124 muscle injuries were recorded, with injury incidences of 2.3 muscle injuries per 1000 hours of exposure overall, 1.2 in training sessions, and 13.6 in matches. Injury time loss ranged from 3 to 67 days (median, 13 days). Eighteen percent of the injuries (n = 23) were recurrent; no association was found between recurrence rate and the player’s age or position (P = 0.15, P = 0.27, respectively). Recurrent injuries caused more severe injuries (26.1%, P = 0.02) and longer median lay-off time (P = 0.01). During the study, teams A and B replaced 7 and 3 coaches, respectively. The injury incidence increased to 5.3 per 1000 hours of exposure in the 2 weeks after the coach dismissal, and decreased to 4.5 within 1 month of coach dismissal.

Given the link between coach dismissal and increased rates of muscle strain injuries, increased attentiveness to preventing muscle injuries during coaching transitions and to the impact of new training regimens is required by trainers and medical teams.


Nature vs. nurture: Study on twins shows athletic destiny not set at birth

The Globe and Mail, Alex Hutchinson from

It’s not exactly Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, but the “identical” twin brothers who submitted to a battery of tests at California State University Fullerton’s Center for Sport Performance were pretty different.

One was a 52-year-old endurance junkie who worked as a high-school track coach, competed regularly in marathons and triathlons, and logged 63,458 kilometres of running between 1993 and 2015. The other was a truck driver who didn’t exercise at all. When scientists at CSU Fullerton heard about the pair from a friend of one of the brothers, recalls researcher Katherine Bathgate, “the wheels started turning.”

Bathgate is the co-lead author of a new study in the European Journal of Applied Physiology that explores the remarkable physical differences that accrued between the brothers as their lifestyles diverged for more than 30 years. The results, along with a series of other recent twin studies, offer a crucial reminder of how malleable our bodies really are. Your genes matter, but what you do with them may matter even more.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.