Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 23, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 23, 2018


The Return of Simone Biles and the Costs of Gymnastics

The New Yorker, Louisa Thomas from

It can be difficult to describe the experience of watching women’s gymnastics, because it is not like any other sport. Most élite athletes challenge bodily limits, but gymnasts seem to exist in a realm beyond the human body’s horizon. Some have the brawny necks of linebackers, others the knobby knees of foals. They have the air sense of birds and the balance of cats; they have preternatural strength and flexibility. Their crystal-encrusted leotards glitter like futuristic armor, and their buns are often adorned with absurd little bows. They are fearless, and they wear fixed smiles. At the same time, it has always been hard to escape the sense that what we see—the sparkles, the flips, the fierce toe points—is only a partial view: that they only seem invulnerable, that there are hidden costs.

It is now impossible to watch women’s gymnastics without an awareness of some of those costs. The U.S. national championships over the weekend were shadowed by an almost unimaginably horrific scandal: the sexual abuse of athletes by the former team doctor Larry Nassar. Hundreds of athletes, many of them gymnasts—including all five members of the 2012 Olympic team and four of the five members of the 2016 team—have come forward as victims.

One of the women who has come forward is Simone Biles.


Shalane Flanagan Is Too Competitive to Retire

Outside Online, Martin Fritz Huber from

It’s official: Shalane Flanagan will return to New York City this November to defend her marathon title. The announcement came last week via a New York Times article by Lindsay Crouse, in which Flanagan put her affection for the world’s largest marathon in terms that would make Nicholas Sparks go weak in the knees. “When I think about running New York, I get a feeling of ecstasy; my stomach turns,” Flanagan told the Times. “It’s like if you’re dating someone and it goes well and you want more.”

From a fitness perspective, Flanagan’s announcement shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Not only is she the reigning NYC Marathon champion, but, just last month, Flanagan helped pace her Bowerman Track Club teammate Shelby Houlihan to a new American record in the 5,000-meters. Clearly, the 37-year-old matriarch of American distance running has still got it.


‘It’s mangled.’ Teddy Bridgewater’s surgeon in awe of comeback

ESPN NFL, Ian O'Connor from

Dan Cooper knows Teddy Bridgewater’s heart like few people do, because Cooper cut open the quarterback’s leg on Sept. 8, 2016, when pro football’s most stunning comeback began inside a Dallas clinic.

Amputation was no longer a feared possibility, and yet what the surgeon faced that day was something one might see on the set of a sci-fi film.

“It was just a horribly grotesque injury,” Cooper said.


Darren Burgess: Importance of ‘forced recovery’

Training Ground Guru, Simon Austin from

Arsenal Head of Elite Performance Darren Burgess says ‘forced recovery’ has become crucial because of the pressures placed on modern players by technology and social media.

Burgess, who joined the Gunners last July, told the RTS podcast: “Most of the time we enforce a rule that you can’t have your phones in the massage room.

“We’ve got guys who have over 10, 11 million followers on Instagram. They just have to send out an innocent message and probably 100,000 people are going to send back an abusive one if they’ve had a bad game.

“That creates a stress that has an impact on them physically and certainly mentally.


Why Chip Kelly failed in the NFL and what it means for UCLA

SB Nation, College Football, Bill Connelly from

… A coach once told me that when watching Kelly’s Philadelphia offenses, one or two 19-yarders per game would make him think, “That would have gone to the house at Oregon.”

In college since 2009, 2.7 percent of plays gained at least 30 yards. In the NFL, it was 2.4 percent.

Combined with differences in tempo (college games averaged 72.7 plays per game to NFL’s 63.1), that means two big gashes per game to the NFL’s 1.5. That, plus slight differences in efficiency and turnovers (1.55 per game in college to 1.49 in the pros), accounts for most of the difference in scoring (26.4 points per game vs. 22.5).


Unwavering in his philosophy, Marcelo Bielsa’s unique approach to the game is taking off at Leeds United

The Independent (UK), Jack Pitt-Brooke from

What is so gratifying about Leeds United’s first four games under Bielsa is that he has not diluted his philosophy or tried to meet the Championship half way


Columbus Blue Jackets name Jim Corsi goaltending development coach from

The Columbus Blue Jackets have named Jim Corsi as the organization’s goaltending development coach and have hired Carey Krug as an assistant coach for the Cleveland Monsters, the club’s American Hockey League affiliate, club general manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced today.

Corsi, 64, will work with the Blue Jackets’ goaltending prospects throughout the system, including netminders with the Monsters, and brings over 40 years of experience to the organization as a player, coach, manager and analyst.


Indianapolis as hub of sports technology is goal of new initiative, Mark Alesia from

… The sports technologies that emerge from the program could involve data analytics, player safety, virtual reality and interaction with fans during games. They also could involve aspects of event management such as ticketing.

“We’re just getting started,” said Scott Dorsey, chairman of the Indiana Sports Corp. and managing director of High Alpha, a venture that helps build and fund tech startups. “Imagine all the new technologies and the new ideas yet to be developed. Indianapolis and our corporate partners will be on the cutting edge of these technologies. We’ll be on the cutting edge of what’s next in sports-related technology on a global scale.”

In each of the next three years, Techstars will choose 10 startup companies to spend three months in Indianapolis working with the local sports industry. The first applications will be taken over 12 weeks starting in December. The companies could be just an idea on a sheet of paper or already have a prototype or completed product.


Dorsey: SportsTech Accelerator an ‘Enormous Accomplishment’

Inside INdiana Business, Andy Ober from

… “For Indianapolis to be the hub for sports-related technology on a global scale is an enormous accomplishment,” said [Scott] Dorsey. “We’re just getting started.”

Indiana Sports Corp. joined other founding members Pacers Sports and Entertainment, NCAA and Indiana’s Next Level Fund to announce the three-year, multi-million-dollar partnership with Colorado-based Techstars. The accelerator will select 10 companies each year to come to Indianapolis for the three-month program at the NCAA Engagement Center in the 16 Tech innovation district. Supporting partners include the Indianapolis Colts, Verizon IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Indiana Sports Corp. President Ryan Vaughn says Indianapolis stands to see a major economic benefit from the partnership. He says about half of the companies that go through Techstars accelerators, on average, stay and grow in the cities where the program is housed. Vaughn says the sports teams and organizations will also benefit, thanks to the innovation coming from the selected companies.


Scientists ID sensor protein responsible for hearing, balance

Harvard Gazette from

Scientists at Harvard Medical School say they have ended a 40-year-quest for the elusive identity of the sensor protein responsible for hearing and balance.

The results of their research, reported Aug. 22 in Neuron, reveal that TMC1, a protein discovered in 2002, forms a sound- and motion-activated pore that allows the conversion of sound and head movement into nerve signals that travel to the brain — a signaling cascade that enables hearing and balance.

Scientists have long known that when the delicate cells in our inner ears detect sound and movement, they convert them into signals. Where and how this conversion occurs has been the subject of intense scientific debate. No more, the authors say.

“The search for this sensor protein has led to numerous dead ends, but we think this discovery ends the quest,” said David Corey, co-senior author on the study and Bertarelli Professor of Translational Medical Science at Harvard Medical School.


Apple Seeds Ams’ Ambitions

EE Times, Junko Yoshida from

… Starting as Ams’ CEO in 2016, Everke identified 3D sensing “one of the mega-trends of our industry that will drive the market over the next 10 years,” with applications far beyond smartphones. In an interview with EE Times late last year, he explained that as the imaging world shifts rapidly from capturing 2D information to 3D, depth sensing has broader implications on industry 4.0, automotive and emerging medical applications.

During 2017 alone, in the 3D sensing field, Ams acquired Heptagon to gain high-end optical system technologies and manufacturing, then bought Princeton Optronics for high power VCSEL (vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser). Next, Ams partnered with Sunny Optical to develop modules for 3D sensing.

These deals have become essential for Ams to effectively serve Apple. The Cupertino, Calif., giant, opted for structured light technology and had to build an intricate network of suppliers with the right technologies to help it put together its complex depth sensing camera — called TrueDepth.


Communication quality between the medical team and the head coach/manager is associated with injury burden and player availability in elite football clubs

British Journal of Sports Medicine from

Objectives We investigated medical staff interpretations and descriptions of internal communication quality in elite football teams to determine whether internal communication was correlated with injuries and/or player availability at training and matches.

Methods Medical staff from 36 elite football clubs across 17 European countries produced 77 reports at four postseason meetings to provide their perceptions of internal communications in their teams. They also recorded data on individual players’ exposure to football and time-loss injuries.

Results The injury burden and incidence of severe injuries were significantly higher in teams with low quality of communication between the head coach/manager and the medical team (scores of 1–2 on a 5-point Likert scale) compared with teams with moderate or high-quality scores (scores of 3–5; p=0.008 for both). Teams with low scores had 4%–5% lower training attendance (76% vs 83%, p=0.001) and less availability at matches (82% vs 88%, p=0.004) compared with teams with moderate or high communication quality scores.

Conclusions The quality of internal communication within a team was correlated with injury rates, training attendance and match availability.


How Network Math Can Help You Make Friends

Quanta Magazine, Patrick Honner from

Studying the structure of existing friendships in your community can help you forge the best connections when forming a new circle of friends.


Rao-Blackwellizing Field Goal Percentage

arXiv, Statistics > Applications; Daniel Daly-Grafstein, Luke Bornn from

Shooting skill in the NBA is typically measured by field goal percentage (FG%) – the number of makes out of the total number of shots. Even more advanced metrics like true shooting percentage are calculated by counting each player’s 2-point, 3-point, and free throw makes and misses, ignoring the spatiotemporal data now available (Kubatko et al. 2007). In this paper we aim to better characterize player shooting skill by introducing a new estimator based on post-shot release shot-make probabilities. Via the Rao-Blackwell theorem, we propose a shot-make probability model that conditions probability estimates on shot trajectory information, thereby reducing the variance of the new estimator relative to standard FG%. We obtain shooting information by using optical tracking data to estimate three factors for each shot: entry angle, shot depth, and left-right accuracy. Next we use these factors to model shot-make probabilities for all shots in the 2014-15 season, and use these probabilities to produce a Rao-Blackwellized FG% estimator (RB-FG%) for each player. We demonstrate that RB-FG% is better than raw FG% at predicting 3-point shooting and true-shooting percentages. Overall, we find that conditioning shot-make probabilities on spatial trajectory information stabilizes inference of FG%, creating the potential to estimate shooting statistics earlier in a season than was previously possible.


Rugby and the NFL: Swapping ideas between union & American Football

Rugby World, Alan Dymock from

From tackle techniques in Seattle to drills learnt in Miami, we look at how American Football is learning from rugby and vice versa


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