Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 28, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 28, 2018


Falcons being extra cautious to protect Julio Jones’ health

Associated Press, Charles Odum from

There will be no leaping sideline catches, no end zone fade routes, no over-the-middle patterns for Julio Jones this preseason.

Fans hoping to see Jones in the Atlanta Falcons’ final two preseason games, including Saturday’s game at Jacksonville, better arrive early for pregame warmups. After that, the wide receiver will be a sideline observer.

Jones is feeling great, and coach Dan Quinn is trying to make sure that doesn’t change before the regular season. Barring a change of plans, Jones also will be held out of Atlanta’s final preseason game against Miami next week.


Same Old Story: Deshaun Watson Confident in His Ability to Return From Injury Stronger Than Ever, NFL, Greg Bishop from

The Texans’ QB has been here before. He begins as a backup, takes over the starting job, puts up insane numbers—and then he tears an ACL. Think he won’t pick up where he left off? Think again.


Texans tailor offense around a healthy, re-energized Deshaun Watson

ESPN NFL, Sarah Barshop from

Watching Deshaun Watson move around the field, it’s easy for Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien to sometimes forget his young quarterback is nine months recovered from knee surgery. During a training camp practice on a sunny morning in August, Watson runs around during team drills, eluding rushers and carving up the defense.

Watson hasn’t had an “aha” moment when he felt like he was officially back from his knee injury. And he’s happy about that.

“It felt normal,” Watson said of his return and jumping right back into practice. “It felt natural. It didn’t really bother me at all. I didn’t really think twice about it. I’m just kind of going out there and performing, playing and practicing.”

Now healthy, Watson is focused on taking a step forward from his stellar rookie season, when he was on pace to put up historic stats and shatter the rookie record for passing touchdowns.


New York Giants star Odell Beckham Jr. wants to love football again

ESPN The Magazine, Seth Wickersham from

Nelson Stewart didn’t ask why Odell Beckham Jr. needed film. He knew. Stewart, Odell’s former coach at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, was in his office this summer watching old plays. He’s a former teammate of Peyton Manning’s and a close friend of Eli’s, both Newman alums as well, and he keeps a grass-stained Beckham No. 3 Newman jersey in his office drawer as a reminder of his fortune to witness so much transcendent talent at such a small school. On this day, he filmed a few touchdowns off his computer screen and texted them to Odell, who replied: “lol coach i really need my high school highlights.”

It has been a difficult and uncertain offseason for Beckham, years in the making. Ever since The Catch — the twisting, levitating, horizontal, three-fingertipped, pass-interfered-with, impossible touchdown against the Cowboys in 2014 — and the celebrity and scrutiny that attended it, he has lost some of his old joy. And along with it, maybe his edge. After the fights and meltdowns, the boat trip, the dog pee celebration and the sparring match with a kicking cage, not to mention an uptick in dropped passes, he broke his ankle in October and missed most of last season. Then in March, he was sued by a man who claims he was beaten up at Beckham’s LA residence in January-in a countersuit, Beckham would deny involvement. That same man later claimed he had evidence that Beckham tried to illegally pay a woman $1,000 for sex, which Beckham denied as well. Also in March, a video of Beckham in bed in Paris with an aspiring model and what appeared to be illegal drugs went viral. Later in the month, the Giants, wary of meeting his desire to be the NFL’s highest-paid player, listened to trade offers, and owner John Mara publicly implied that it was time for the 25-year-old wideout to grow up.


Leep of faith: CU scientists testing world’s fastest blade runner

University of Colorado Boulder, CU Boulder Today from

One of the world’s fastest men visited CU Boulder this week, blazing around the corners of the track and clocking nearly 30 miles per hour on a treadmill in the Applied Biomechanics lab.

The scientific question at hand: Does a double-amputee running on prosthetic blades have a disadvantage over sprinters with legs? The answer could ultimately determine whether he will be allowed to compete at the 2020 Olympics.

“We’re here to get the numbers and find out the truth with scientific non-bias,” said Blake Leeper, a 29-year old elite sprinter from Kingsport, Tennessee.

In June, Leeper—who was born without legs and runs on Ottobock carbon fiber blades—ran the 400-meter sprint in 44.42 seconds, shattering his own record and that of Oscar Pistorius, who in 2012 became the first and only below-the-knee amputee to compete against able-bodied runners at the Olympics.


What Buster Posey’s Hip Surgery Could Mean for His Future

FanGraphs Baseball, Jay Jaffe from

… “Recovery time is what it is, it’s six-plus months,” Sabean told KNBR on Thursday night, “and if you hit the mark well enough you should be able to perform in spring training and hopefully start the season on time.”

With MLB announcing this week that Opening Day for the 2019 season would be on March 28 — just over seven months away — Sabean’s timeline leaves relatively little margin for setbacks. Cactus League action will have just gotten underway by the time he hits the six-month mark


‘Scrap the Superman Cape’: Advice for Avoiding Injuries as an NFL QB, NFL, Albert Breer from

Watson, Wentz, Luck, Rodgers . . . With pass rushers getting scarier every year, are we doomed to seeing out most promising (and adventurous) QBs invariably injured?


Clairefontaine: the dream factory that changed French football forever

These Football Times, Karan Tejwani from

A sign on the walls of the Clairefontaine football centre in France reads: “Pour L’INF, merci pour ces deux années inoubliables.” It roughly translates as: “Thank you, INF, for these two unforgettable years.” The sign, surrounded by pictures, was given by Kylian Mbappé, the latest poster boy of French football, as he shows his gratitude to the infamous nursery of the sport in a country that, over the years, has honed superstars, world and European champions, Ballon d’Or candidates and the record-shattering Paris Saint-Germain youngster himself.

Mbappé is another unbelievably good footballer who’s come through the ranks of Clairefontaine. As someone certain to be amongst the highest echelons of football for many years to come, and having achieved so much at such a young age, he has great reason to thank those that got him there. For the national football centre, he is merely another success story.

Located in the north of France in the forests of Clairefontaine-en-Yvelines, a suburb close to Paris, the Centre Technique National Fernand Sastre, or Clairefontaine as it’s more popularly known, was the brainchild of longtime French Football Federation (FFF) President Fernand Sastre, and inspired by the methods of the legendary Romanian coach Ștefan Kovács.


Emotion and Execution In Sport

Medium, Doug Kechijian from

… Emotion is concentrated in particular regions of the brain that act in concert with other areas of the brain, not in isolation. Neuroscientists reason that our superior capacity for emotion affords us an evolutionary advantage over other organisms. Emotions facilitate learning and memory formation. One is more likely to recall the details of his/her wedding or the birth of a child relative to a less emotionally salient event. We remember the lyrics of songs we enjoy more clearly than something we deliberately attempted to memorize for an academic exam. More importantly, emotions allowed our ancestors to associate environmental triggers with danger or reward, thereby developing pattern recognition. Pattern recognition allows us to make rapid decisions during stressful situations where the cost of indecision can be catastrophic or even grave.

Pattern recognition is effectively prejudicial because we stereotype the environment to expedite decisions at the expense of accuracy. Prejudicial thinking can be adaptive even though it compromises relatively recent human concerns like global human rights and justice. The adaptive value of emotion enabled us to modify our biology and our behavior to increase survivability. Uniquely human cultural phenomena like literature, film, and dance are also heavily influenced by our ability to capture and recreate emotion.


How nickel-sized tech helps Eagles track Wentz’s recovery

ESPN NFL, Tim McManus from

… the Eagles like to take things a step beyond the eye test — especially when it comes to something as important as the physical recovery of their franchise quarterback. They’re utilizing player-tracking technology in hopes it will help guide their most valued asset through a safe recovery.

The data collected from that technology revealed Wentz isn’t just back to his old ways since tearing the ACL and LCL in his left knee. He has actually taken it up a notch.

“Those are things we track actually with the footballs and things that we have. We can monitor that stuff,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “Velocity has been up, accuracy has been up. Those are the things he’s been able to work on over the course of the year.”

The Eagles were first in line to have Zebra Technologies’ player-tracking system installed at their practice facility in 2014. To this day, only a third of the league has followed their lead.


Researchers propose new method for secure, speech-based two-factor authentication

University of Alabama-Birmingham, UAB News from

Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have developed a new method for two-factor authentication via wearables using speech signals.

Reducing the number of tasks users have to perform during traditional two-factor authentication has been an area of focus for emerging technology and security researchers. One method proposed involves using ambient noise to detect the proximity between the two devices being used for authentication, which eliminates the need for a user to type in a numerical code. However, UAB researchers contend this method would leave users vulnerable to malicious mobile device attacks.

In a paper published at the Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Security and Privacy in Wireless and Mobile Networks in June, Nitesh Saxena, Ph.D., and doctoral student Prakash Shrestha propose a system called the “Listening-Watch,” a more secure, minimal interaction process using a wearable device, such as a smartwatch or activity tracker, and browser-generated random speech sounds.


Oddities and absurdities in outfitting a goalie – 10,000 dollars well spent

ESPN NHL, Ben Arledge from

… While Lehner’s routine might sound crazy, it’s not out of the ordinary for an NHL goalie to be particular about his equipment and how he wears it. Of the 62 goalies suiting up every night, no two wear their equipment exactly the same, despite a growing list of regulatory limitations placed on a goalie’s precious gear by the NHL rulebook.

NHL goaltenders have long been obsessive about their equipment. After all, they are wearing nearly $10,000 in gear at any given time, and Blues head equipment manager Joel Farnsworth estimated that the cost of outfitting an NHL goalie for the entirety of the season ranges from $45,000 to $55,000. Protecting against an Alex Ovechkin slap shot while also not hindering a goalie’s ability to be in position to stop it is the main objective when selecting and perfecting equipment. Los Angeles Kings equipment manager Darren Granger even remembers Arturs Irbe making his own changes to his gear, including sewing his stuff, during his time in Vancouver in the late 1990s.

Today’s equipment offers goalies a plethora of options in customization and variation in how they wear it. And while goalies will run through multiple sets, they tend not to make large changes.


Medscape Asks Dr. Mandelbaum How Specializing in One Sport Can Break Young Bodies

Medscape, Bert Mandelbaum from

… Early in my career, I managed the gymnastics program at the University of California, Los Angeles. Many of these gymnasts, hungry for gold medals, were practicing more than 20 hours a week. We noticed that they were experiencing pain in their wrists.

We found that they were damaging their growth plates in their radiuses. Their ulnas were growing relatively long, but their distal radiuses remained short in proportion. As a result, they were tearing the triangular fibrocartilage. We defined the pathogenesis of that sequence and published it in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.[2]

That was some of the first evidence that superspecialization in young athletes can manifest in significant musculoskeletal maladaptations, with the consequences of a diminution in performance and career.


Signs you’re not drinking enough water

Vitality, Rae Ritchie from

One challenge during hot weather is ensuring that we drink enough fluids. Writer Rae Ritchie investigates the warning signs of dehydration – and asks the experts what we can do to prevent it


Trained to Find Players, Bundesliga Insider Scouts for Scouts, Too

The New York Times, Rory Smith from

The challenge, as Jonas Boldt sees it, is that soccer no longer has any secrets: no territory left uncharted, no stone left unturned, no gems still hidden.

He knows, for example, that the coup that transformed his own career — which kick-started a journey that took him from intern at his boyhood club to his current post as sporting director of one of Germany’s biggest teams — almost could not happen now. The world has changed too much, become too small, too busy.

In 2007, Boldt was still in his mid-20s when, having completed a master’s degree in business administration and sports management and two internships with Bayer Leverkusen, he decided to spend some time in South America: to learn another language, to “get some life experience.”

At Leverkusen, his primary task had been to build a database of all the information the club had on potential new signings, and he had done it well enough to catch the eye of Michael Reschke, Leverkusen’s sporting director.


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