Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 24, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 24, 2018


J.J. Watt and Kealia Ohai: Couple’s Rehab and Recovery, NFL, Jenny Vrentas from

Watt believes he’s going to come back from his second straight season-ending injury as the same player he always was. He can thank his soccer-star girlfriend, who knew exactly what he was experiencing—after all, she was going through the same thing


Sloane Stephens finding her baseline before the US Open

ESPN Tennis, Alyssa Roenigk from

Sloane Stephens is in uncharted territory. It’s one month before the start of the US Open in Flushing Meadows, New York, and Stephens, the defending champ, is in Atlanta to play Madison Keys in an exhibition match to kick off the ATP’s Atlanta Open. Thing is, it’s Georgia in the summer, and the match, which was scheduled to take place the night before, was rained out. Tickets were exchanged. Autographs were signed. And Stephens’ first opportunity to play her good friend on a hard court since beating her 6-3, 6-0 in last year’s US Open final — and shake off the jitters about defending her first Grand Slam title — went unfulfilled.

But if any personality trait best defines Stephens, it is her ability to move past yesterday and prepare herself for the future — that skill has been tested as frequently as her stealthy footwork in the past year.

“We play a lot of months out of the year, and we have a lot of ups and downs,” Stephens said via phone while fulfilling sponsor obligations in Atlanta. “Different people win tournaments every week. You can have one really bad week and come back and win the next tournament. Tennis is an emotional sport. You can play badly one week and want to fire your coach. Or you think your fitness is down, so you want to fire your fitness guy. There is always something going wrong. But you can always work through your problems if you step back and take a breath. That is true in tennis and in life.”


Sabres’ Eichel focuses on keeping fiery emotions in check

Associated Press, John Wawrow from

Breaking sticks, icy stares and one-word answers made out of frustration have done nothing to transform the Sabres into contenders during center Jack Eichel’s three seasons in Buffalo.

Perhaps, Eichel has begun to realize he can’t lead by emotion alone.

“I think that’s important, obviously, not reacting, body language, staying upbeat. I think that’s part of it,” Eichel told The Associated Press after joining numerous teammates for an informal session at the team’s practice facility Thursday.


For Sean McVay, Work-Life Balance Is a Work in Progress, NFL, Greg Bishop from

Sean McVay is, at 32, the youngest head coach in the NFL. He runs Hollywood’s pro football team, a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and it might seem as if he has everything he ever wanted, years earlier than could reasonably have been expected. And yet on this May morning inside his windowless brick office at the Rams’ facility in Thousand Oaks, Calif., he’s worried about his . . . work-life balance?

That’s how his mind works: He’s constantly cycling through an endless array of potential improvements, which makes it difficult to find any sort of balance. But he’s trying.


Design patterns for orchestrating collaborative groups

O'Reilly Media, Christian Crumlish and Erin Malone from

… it’s only when you begin enabling people to “do things” together that the real power of online social networks kicks in.

Today, it’s possible to orchestrate collaborative groups through a series of time-tested, well-proven design patterns. These patterns provide people with a shared space, give them a way to invite others, provide the means for managing tasks, employ version control, and look after people’s rights.


Among D.C. United players, a new team-building drill: Spanish lessons

The Washington Post, Steven Goff from

… It’s common for newly arrived Latin American soccer players in MLS to take English classes to understand coaching orders, communicate with teammates and assimilate into largely English-speaking circles.

It’s not common for the English speakers to pursue Spanish skills. But this month, at the urging of English-speaking players eager to expand their linguistic horizons in a sport with heavy Latin American influence, United introduced a Spanish class.

“I was taken back a little, but in a good way,” team administrator Francisco Tobar said of the request early this year by the wannabe Spanish speakers. “I thought, ‘Yeah, good idea.’


THUUZ SPORTS Launches Partner Portal for Automated Highlights and Clips — Thuuz

PRLog from

Thuuz Sports, the fast growing leader in automated short form sports video production, to help redefine and enhance the viewing experience for business partners and consumers of sport worldwide, today unveiled their first “Partner Portal,” a new web-based platform that will give media companies and rights holders the ability to efficiently produce and distribute an unlimited number of game clips and highlights using Thuuz’s automated highlight production platform.

“The Thuuz Partner Portal has taken Thuuz’s unparalleled technology in understanding exciting moments within a game and put it at the fingertips of content owners,” said Warren Packard, Thuuz CEO. “This platform brings content owners the complete tool set to ingest, produce, edit, and publish highlights at scale and is the only truly data-driven platform which produces game highlights and leverages Thuuz’ patented understanding of game excitement at the individual fan level.”


How a Single Word Propelled WSC Sports to NBA Video Success

SportTechie, Joe Lemire from

WSC Sports approached the NBA in 2013. Until then, the company had gained only moderate traction as a video editor for scouts, but it was shifting to target media publishers. WSC’s four Israeli founders focused their pitch on technology that could analyze game video and identify the most important moments. In the course of the meeting with the NBA, WSC’s CEO, Daniel Shichman, made an offhand comment: “And we can automate all of it, too.”

The magic a-word caught the NBA’s attention. The league’s VP of emerging media, Bob Carney, said he had already fielded a number of pitches from other companies touting the ability to automate highlights but “nobody was able to really deliver at the scale that they had promised.”

The NBA provided WSC with video from all of that year’s G-League games as a test. WSC hadn’t intentionally emphasized the automation component of its product because that was still in development. Now they hurriedly honed its machine learning capabilities to complete the pilot program.

“When we were able to see that they were able to automatically produce highlight packages for every single player in the league for every single game,” Carney said, “it was a real eye-opener for us. We don’t have the kind of human resources to produce that kind of content for our minor league.”


DeepLabCut: markerless pose estimation of user-defined body parts with deep learning

Nature Neuroscience journal from

Quantifying behavior is crucial for many applications in neuroscience. Videography provides easy methods for the observation and recording of animal behavior in diverse settings, yet extracting particular aspects of a behavior for further analysis can be highly time consuming. In motor control studies, humans or other animals are often marked with reflective markers to assist with computer-based tracking, but markers are intrusive, and the number and location of the markers must be determined a priori. Here we present an efficient method for markerless pose estimation based on transfer learning with deep neural networks that achieves excellent results with minimal training data. We demonstrate the versatility of this framework by tracking various body parts in multiple species across a broad collection of behaviors. Remarkably, even when only a small number of frames are labeled (~200), the algorithm achieves excellent tracking performance on test frames that is comparable to human accuracy.


Player tracking data is next step in NFL’s analytics revolution

ESPN NFL, Seth Walder from

… Player tracking data is the next analytics arms race in the NFL, and it’s here.

In recent seasons teams have held player tracking information on its own players, but never opponents. Earlier this offseason that changed, and the NFL is about to embark on its first season and full offseason of clubs having the full league’s worth of player tracking information. And at least some believe that the edge gained by those that embrace the data will be significant.

“Make no mistake, it is going to be a separator in terms of your competitiveness, both in personnel and on Sundays,” said one NFL executive, who requested anonymity before discussing how use of the new data would affect teams’ strategy. “My belief is it will drastically help teams compete if they can embrace it and integrate it. [And] I think it will be more of a separator early.”


[1808.03766] The ActivityNet Large-Scale Activity Recognition Challenge 2018 Summary

arXiv, omputer Science > Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition; Bernard Ghanem, Juan Carlos Niebles, Cees Snoek, Fabian Caba Heilbron, Humam Alwassel, Victor Escorcia, Ranjay Krishna, Shyamal Buch, Cuong Duc Dao from

The 3rd annual installment of the ActivityNet Large- Scale Activity Recognition Challenge, held as a full-day workshop in CVPR 2018, focused on the recognition of daily life, high-level, goal-oriented activities from user-generated videos as those found in internet video portals. The 2018 challenge hosted six diverse tasks which aimed to push the limits of semantic visual understanding of videos as well as bridge visual content with human captions. Three out of the six tasks were based on the ActivityNet dataset, which was introduced in CVPR 2015 and organized hierarchically in a semantic taxonomy. These tasks focused on tracing evidence of activities in time in the form of proposals, class labels, and captions. In this installment of the challenge, we hosted three guest tasks to enrich the understanding of visual information in videos. The guest tasks focused on complementary aspects of the activity recognition problem at large scale and involved three challenging and recently compiled datasets: the Kinetics-600 dataset from Google DeepMind, the AVA dataset from Berkeley and Google, and the Moments in Time dataset from MIT and IBM Research.


Anthony Bosch Reveals Why Ryan Braun Got Caught for Using PEDs, MLB, Eddie Dominguez with Christian Red and Teri Thompson from

Tony Bosch talked about his hard-partying lifestyle and blamed it on the players and celebrities he was doing business with. “I started doing drugs or that party lifestyle due to my lifestyle with all these players,” he said. “And remember, it wasn’t only the athletes, I had a bunch of celebrities.”

He described Alex Rodriguez as a “very insecure individual. Very insecure. In every aspect. You know, ‘Am I good enough?’ You know, ‘If I’m going to be with a chick, they’re going to have to be blond, you know. Are my eyes blue enough? Am I tall enough? Am I strong enough?’ I would go into his house, and in his living room he would have, like, this-size TV, maybe a little smaller, and he would have them in different locations, and every TV had a different game on of his highlights.”


How This Athlete Used Nutrition to Improve His Triathlon Run, Marni Sumbal from

… Joel trained consistently and had the fitness to put together a solid run. But it was clear that he wasn’t meeting his fluid and carbohydrate requirements, contributing to the massive slowdown in pace when running off the bike. We needed to fine-tune his sport nutrition strategy as his hit-or-miss intake of Gatorade and gels was not meeting his needs. A rise in core temperature and subsequent increased rate of muscle glycogen use and rate of perceived exertion (RPE) ultimately was leading to extreme fatigue.


Premier League: how an early transfer window caused clubs to pay more for top players

The Conversation, Simon Chadwick and Chris Brady from

… At first glance, the shorter window appears to have had some important effects. Overall, English clubs have spent less in the transfer market, and there was less frenetic activity as the window’s closing approached. Furthermore, rather than adopting a gung-ho approach to signings, some clubs showed both more foresight and greater restraint.


Elite national athletes reach their peak performance later than non-elite in sprints and throwing events

Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport from


The aim of this study was to describe and analyse the performance career trajectories for Italian athletes that participated in sprint, hurdles, discus throw, and shot-put athletics events.

Retrospective study, data collected between 1994 and 2014.

A total of 5929 athletes (female: n = 2977, 50.2%) were included in the study. The age of entering competition and personal best performance was identified in the official competition records. Personal best performances were ranked in percentiles and top-level athletes were considered those in the highest 4% of the performance distribution.

Overall, when controlling for the age of entering competition, top-level athletes reached their personal best later (i.e., around 23-25 years old) for all events compare to the rest of the athletes. Moreover, regression analysis showed that entering competitions later, was linked to better performances during adulthood. Also, only 17% to 26% [90% CI] of the top-level adult athletes were considered as such when they were 14 to 17 years of age.

Together, these findings suggest that early sport success is not a strong predictor of top-level performance at senior level. Entering sport-specific competitions later and lengthening the sports career at beyond 23-25 years of age may be important factors to reach top-level performance in sprint and throwing events.


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