Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 27, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 27, 2018


How a lost season converted Jets’ Brandon Copeland from NFL outcast to key contributor, Matt Stypulkoski from

… “Mentally, I just hadn’t flipped that switch yet of, ‘I’m a beast, I’m a savage, I’m unstoppable,'” Copeland said. “So I think now, when I step out on the field, ever since having to sit out and come back, I step out on the field like nobody can touch me and that’s the biggest difference.”

Over the past few days – and during the preseason game against the Redskins – Jordan Jenkins and Josh Martin have been getting consistent run as the Jets’ starting outside linebackers. But just last week, Copeland was getting reps with the first team. And at the very least, even if he doesn’t win a starting job, he still looks poised to play a major role at a position where the Jets desperately need improved production.

That’s a major departure from where Copeland stood as a fringe NFL player just a few years ago.


Cristiano Ronaldo the most powerful footballer around – former fitness coach

ESPN FC from

… “Cristiano is a phenomenon and a elite level athlete,” Mauri, whose last job was Bayern Munich, told Tuttosport. “He always trains to the best possible level because his way of working is comprised of three things: dedication, competitiveness and a positive attitude.

“To improve football you would need to bring every young player to watch his training sessions. He does everything with a smile and not against his will unlike certain kids even in youth ranks.

“We are talking about a world class player who, when we returned home at 2a.m. from a Champions League away match would not jet off home in his car. No, he would stop at the training centre for at least an hour for various recovery exercises and cryotherapy.


Size and speed come together on o-line

Eugene Register-Guard, Ryan Thornburn from

Mario Cristobal prefers his blur offense with extra beef.

Oregon’s first-year coach still wants the Ducks to overwhelm teams with speed and pace of play.

Cristobal also received his “football PhD” in the SEC, which means his offensive lines are going to pack a heavyweight punch.

So can Oregon mesh the uptempo spread attack Chip Kelly made famous with Bunyanesque size and strength at the line of scrimmage?


Standards for coaching have taken a major shift

Tuscaloosa News, Tommy Deas from

… Coaches know there has been an accelerating shift in the landscape of interaction with players. Alabama coaches in several sports acknowledge it and say they are adjusting to better reach today’s athletes.

“I’m very aware of it,” UA swimming and diving coach Dennis Pursley said. “I’d be surprised if there’s a coach in existence in any sport today that’s not aware of it.

“You have to change with the times. The times are very different. I can speak for myself, been coaching over 40 years, my coaching style and methods when I first started coaching that were embraced by the athletes, their parents, the community, are not acceptable today.”

While standards of coaching conduct and player relations are changing, coaches are still charged with winning, and with building the mental and physical toughness it takes to win. Meeting that challenge has required changes in method and approach.


Brian Kelly testing Notre Dame team with chaos for 2018 season

ESPN College Football, Adam Rittenberg from

… “Score with a soccer ball,” Kelly told the group, placing the ball in front of center Sam Mustipher. “Find a way.”

“That was the craziest thing,” Mustipher said later. “It kind of shocked me.”

The conversion failed, as the soccer ball rolled away. The following day, in the same situation, Kelly pulled Buck linebacker Drue Tranquill, the fulcrum of the defense, off the field, forcing the other 10 to reorganize.

Same message: Find a way.

These displays weren’t for Kelly’s own amusement. Nor were the horns, sirens and helicopter-propeller whooshing that blared around the field. If it looked, sounded and felt more like chaos than a scripted practice more than four months before the real games kicked off, that meant the plan was working. Matt Balis, the team’s strength and conditioning coach, has even orchestrated “chaos workouts” for players, complete with strobe lights.


The MLS developmental model and the appeal of European soccer

US Soccer Players, Charles Boehm from

Weston McKennie. Shaq Moore. Rubio Rubin. Josh Sargent. Erik Palmer-Brown. Zyen Jones. As of this month, Sebastian Soto and Max Rugova. And if reports are correct, Giovanni Reyna and Taylor Booth will soon follow.

Those are just a few of the talented young US prospects who’ve recently passed on MLS offers to move abroad, or played out their MLS contracts and moved for free. In many cases they’ve spent significant time in MLS academies before departing, leaving those clubs empty-handed after investing no small amount of resources in them.

American players have looked overseas for professional opportunities for decades and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. There’s a cultural component here that might just be eternal.


TexDel Partners With AFFOA To Accelerate Development Of Medicine Delivering Fabrics

Textile World from

Textile-Based Delivery Inc. (TexDel), a biomaterials platform technology company, today announced it has received a $1 million award from Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA), a private-public partnership established through the Department of Defense. The award supports the manufacturing scale up of TexDel’s patented technology for controlled delivery of active ingredients via textiles.
Founded by Jordan Schindler, TexDel is based at Conover, N.C.-based Catawba Valley Community College’s Manufacturing Solutions Center. TexDel’s patented smart-textile platform called Nufabrx® puts active ingredients (vitamins, supplements, medicines) into fabric, which can be programmed for controlled release to the skin. Active ingredients remain effective after multiple washings.


‘Building up’ stretchable electronics to be as multipurpose as your smartphone

UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering from

By stacking and connecting layers of stretchable circuits on top of one another, engineers have developed an approach to build soft, pliable “3D stretchable electronics” that can pack a lot of functions while staying thin and small in size. The work is published in the Aug. 13 issue of Nature Electronics.

As a proof of concept, a team led by the University of California San Diego has built a stretchable electronic patch that can be worn on the skin like a bandage and used to wirelessly monitor a variety of physical and electrical signals, from respiration, to body motion, to temperature, to eye movement, to heart and brain activity. The device, which is as small and thick as a U.S. dollar coin, can also be used to wirelessly control a robotic arm.


[1808.07371] Everybody Dance Now

arXiv, Computer Science > Graphics; Caroline Chan, Shiry Ginosar, Tinghui Zhou, Alexei A. Efros from

This paper presents a simple method for “do as I do” motion transfer: given a source video of a person dancing we can transfer that performance to a novel (amateur) target after only a few minutes of the target subject performing standard moves. We pose this problem as a per-frame image-to-image translation with spatio-temporal smoothing. Using pose detections as an intermediate representation between source and target, we learn a mapping from pose images to a target subject’s appearance. We adapt this setup for temporally coherent video generation including realistic face synthesis. Our video demo can be found at this https URL .


Jackie MacMullan on the complex issue of mental health in the NBA African-American community

ESPN NBA, Jackie MacMullan from

THEY LEARNED FROM an early age to keep their heads bowed and their voices low. Around the Erie Avenue row house where Marcus and Markieff Morris grew up in North Philadelphia, eye contact with the wrong person could be misconstrued as a sign of disrespect or, worse, a challenge. “Then, next thing you know, the guns are coming out,” Marcus says. “I’ve seen guys get shot just for sitting on the wrong front step. We were surrounded by violence, gangs. You wake up every day thinking, ‘How am I going to protect myself?'”

The Morris brothers were exceptional athletes, providing them with an occasional escape from an environment Marcus says felt like a tinderbox: Light a match, and the whole thing will blow. Like many boys their age, the Morris twins dreamed of playing in the NBA or the NFL. “But,” Marcus says, “we were living somewhere where you never saw anybody do that.”


Elusive mitochondrial connection to inflammation uncovered

Nature, News and Views, Alexandra Stolz & Ivan Dikic from

PINK1 and parkin proteins help to degrade damaged mitochondrial organelles, and abnormalities in these proteins are linked to Parkinson’s disease. Mouse studies reveal that the proteins act to prevent inflammation.


The Law and Order of Data Science

Simply Statistics blog, Roger Peng from

One conversation I’ve had a few times revolves around the question, “What’s the difference between science and data science?” If I were to come up with a simple distinction, I might say that

Science starts with a question; data science starts with the data.

What makes data science so difficult is that it starts in the wrong place. As a result, a certain amount of extra work must be done to understand the context surrounding a dataset before we can do anything useful.


tHoops: A Multi-Aspect Analytical Framework Spatio-Temporal Basketball Data

arXiv, Computer Science > Machine Learning; Evangelos Papalexakis, Konstantinos Pelechrinis from

During the past few years advancements in sports information systems and technology has allowed us to collect a number of detailed spatio-temporal data capturing various aspects of basketball. For example, shot charts, that is, maps capturing locations of (made or missed) shots, and spatio-temporal trajectories for all the players on the court can capture information about the offensive and defensive tendencies and schemes of a team. Characterization of these processes is important for player and team comparisons, pre-game scouting, game preparation etc. Playing tendencies among teams have traditionally been compared in a heuristic manner. Recently automated ways for similar comparisons have appeared in the sports analytics literature. However, these approaches are almost exclusively focused on the spatial distribution of the underlying actions (usually shots taken), ignoring a multitude of other parameters that can affect the action studied. In this work, we propose a framework based on tensor decomposition for obtaining a set of prototype spatio-temporal patterns based on the core spatiotemporal information and contextual meta-data. The core of our framework is a 3D tensor X, whose dimensions represent the entity under consideration (team, player, possession etc.), the location on the court and time. We make use of the PARAFAC decomposition and we decompose the tensor into several interpretable patterns, that can be thought of as prototype patterns of the process examined (e.g., shot selection, offensive schemes etc.). We also introduce an approach for choosing the number of components to be considered. Using the tensor components, we can then express every entity as a weighted combination of these components. The framework introduced in this paper can have further applications in the work-flow of the basketball operations of a franchise, which we also briefly discuss.


The Rockies’ Lack of Depth Is Costing Them Wins

FanGraphs Baseball, Dan Szymborski from

Currently in possession of a 68-56 record and standing just a half-game out of first place in the NL West, the Colorado Rockies are in the midst of an objectively good season. Actually, the 2017 and -18 versions of the club have the best combined two-year winning percentage for any pair of Rockies teams in history, so one could make the argument that this is Colorado’s finest run ever. They’ve had two MVP candidates in the starting lineup both seasons and the starting pitching, long a team bugaboo, ranks ninth in the majors by WAR over that time period. Things in Colorado aren’t bad, per se.

But they could be better, it seems, without much effort. One real problem for the Rockies has been the team’s lack of offensive depth. It’s an issue they’ve shown little interest in addressing. And it’s costing them real wins.


Hayley Wickenheiser and the search for the NHL’s first female general manager – Weekly Reader

ESPN NHL, Greg Wyshynski from

… It started at the top when Brendan Shanahan, whose only managerial experience was as the NHL’s first Department of Player Safety sheriff, was named team president in 2014. Three months later, he hired 28-year-old Kyle Dubas as an assistant general manager, a move that was as noteworthy for the young executive’s commitment to analytics as it was for his experience. Four years later, Dubas ascended to become the team’s general manager, completing the track Shanahan had placed him on. Criticisms of his age, experience, or ability to work with the egos of successful coaches and players were summarily ignored; Shanahan hired what he considered to be the best person for the job.


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