Applied Sports Science newsletter – September 10, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for September 10, 2018


Darren Sproles Is Everything He Shouldn’t Have Been

Deadspin, Robert O'Connell from

… On Thursday night, some 11 months after tearing his ACL and breaking his arm on the same Week 3 tackle, Sproles will suit up for the Eagles in what he has announced will be his last go-round. He brings with him one of the rangiest résumés in the sport’s recent history. Sproles scored his first two career touchdowns, in San Diego, on kickoff and punt returns in the same game; a few years later in New Orleans, he set a single-season all-purpose yardage record that still stands. In all, he’s piled up over 10 miles of career yardage despite—or, more to the point, because of—a frame that many worried would force him out of the league altogether. Most every week for a dozen years, an eternity in the life cycle of a professional running back, the five-and-a-half-foot speedster has clocked in as a ball-carrier, pass-catcher, kick-returner, and all-around matchup nightmare. He’s been not only useful but relentlessly so.


Canadian sprinter Crystal Emmanuel kicks Iced Capp habit, emerges as podium threat for Tokyo 2020

National Post, Dan Barnes from

Knowing a vicious circle of ingestion and exertion would never produce her best, Emmanuel sought a more professional approach to her craft


Wright: ‘Phenomenal’ injury improvement down to Benitez

Training Ground Guru, Simon Austin from

Newcastle United Head Physio Derek Wright says the “phenomenal” reduction in injuries at the club is down to the “meticulous planning” of manager Rafa Benitez.

Data analyst Ben Dinnery has detailed the improvement, with total days lost to injury at Newcastle going down from 2,288 in 2015/16 to 870 last season.

Benitez arrived at the club in March 2016. The number of significant injuries has gone down from 48 in 2015/16 to 29 in 2017/18; soft tissue injuries reduced from 29 to 7 over the same period (and from being 60% of the total to 24%); and average return to play time has dropped from 48 to 30 days.


The Future of Performance – Training at Precision Athletica | Gillette World Sport

YouTube, World Sport from

After visiting some of the state of the art training centres in the USA, Precision Athletica’s Pete Magner realised that combining the development within Australia and from the USA could create a truly comprehensive program for Australian athletes. Together they are helping to unlock the massive potential within Australian athletes.


Desirable difficulties in learning

BOLD Blog on Learning & Development, Annie Brookman-Byrne from

Desirable difficulties’ is the term given to a set of educational practices that make learning more challenging but also more effective. These approaches may feel hard, but evidence shows that they can lead to efficient learning.

Students are under great pressure to perform well in exams, and to do that, they need to learn vast amounts of information. To help the learning process, the temptation for teachers may be to make learning activities as easy as possible, to reduce the effort required by the learner. But research shows that this can be counterproductive. The term ‘desirable difficulties’ was coined by cognitive psychologist Robert Bjork, and describes the counterintuitive concept that there are ways of learning that may feel less effective and lead to more errors during the learning process, but that lead to better performance in the long term.


How to Survive in a Hyperconnected World – Bruce Schneier

YouTube, Ford Foundation from

“Policymakers need to understand tech in the same way tech people need to understand policy.”

As the internet gets more powerful and technology plays an increasing role in our lives, it becomes more and more important that we learn how to navigate uncharted technological territory. Cybersecurity expert Bruce Schneier looks at why it’s necessary for us to find innovative ways to use surveillance data to the benefit of the public good, while still maintaining our individual security.


Data provided by printed electronics: Clothes are becoming “all-rounders”

ISPO, Dr. Regina Henkel from

Imagine that you could measure pressure points in shoes electronically, sensors in shirts could monitor the health and performance of athletes, and products functioned as the interface in communications between the brand and the consumer. Or, to be more specific: Imagine that clothes could be used as credit cards or that a certain football jersey allowed you to access a selected area. Are these just dreams for the future? No, flexible and printed electronics will soon open up many new opportunities.


QuaterNet: A Quaternion-based Recurrent Model for Human Motion

arXiv, Computer Science > Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition; Dario Pavllo, David Grangier, Michael Auli from

Deep learning for predicting or generating 3D human pose sequences is an active research area. Previous work regresses either joint rotations or joint positions. The former strategy is prone to error accumulation along the kinematic chain, as well as discontinuities when using Euler angle or exponential map parameterizations. The latter requires re-projection onto skeleton constraints to avoid bone stretching and invalid configurations. This work addresses both limitations. Our recurrent network, QuaterNet, represents rotations with quaternions and our loss function performs forward kinematics on a skeleton to penalize absolute position errors instead of angle errors. On short-term predictions, QuaterNet improves the state-of-the-art quantitatively. For long-term generation, our approach is qualitatively judged as realistic as recent neural strategies from the graphics literature.


I’m trying out a watch with vital sign sensors for continuous blood pressure (cuff-less), oxygen saturation, heart and respiratory rate. Not real-time display but good form factor @SpryHealth “Loop”

Twitter, Eric Topol from


Silicon Valley Jumps Into the Fitness Business, and It Will Cost You

The New York Times, Erin Griffith from

Paul Wright, a smiling, impeccably jacked personal trainer, stared at me from the large screen mounted to the wall. He was waiting for me to start my next set of biceps curls.

The screen was part of a new weight-lifting machine from Tonal, a San Francisco start-up. The system combines software and an interactive LED screen with electromagnetic weights and cables to create an experience that does not rely on plates, barbells and gravity. Tonal had sensed that my last set of curls was too easy, and helpfully — perhaps sadistically — added more weight for the next set.

I grumbled about the weight, but realized Mr. Wright couldn’t hear me any more than Tamilee Webb could hear me griping through a “Buns of Steel” VHS tape in the 1990s. The video of him was a recording, too. But as I grimaced and sweated through the reps, I noticed they were precisely the right level of difficulty. The machine knew my strength better than I did. As I tested the machine in a Tonal office, the company’s chief executive, head of marketing, public relations representative and another trainer eagerly looked on.

The Tonal machine is very cool, I told them — and, at $2,995, very expensive.


Health-Sensor Platform Aims to be Universal

Electronic Design, Chris DeMartino from

Electronic design and firmware consulting is the focus of Voler Systems, which specializes in wearable and Internet of Things (IoT) devices for companies that create medical and consumer products. The company’s expertise spans sensors, wireless communications, power management for battery-operated devices, and medical devices.

Voler Systems recently introduced its universal health-sensor platform, which collects data from people to determine the right type of sensor to use, the right place on the body to wear the sensor, and the best software algorithm to process the sensor data (see figure). It can essentially be described as a pre-engineered prototype device that creates a fast route for a patient’s data to be captured and transmitted. Through its combination of hardware, firmware, and software, the platform facilitates data transmission to a smartphone or the cloud.


When the Implantable Internet of Things Gets Under Our Skin

RTInsights, Joe McKendrick from

The internet of things has always been about getting the nodes of data closer to the “edge” – meaning you and me. Is implantable tech the next step?

We’re reaching the point in which our bodies are becoming the “things” within the Internet of Things. A couple of recent developments point to the emergence of the human IoT.

For example, one forward-looking company now has a workforce of at least 80 employees with implanted RFID chips in their hands to help them go about their work routines more efficiently. Rachel Metz at MIT reports the company, Three Square Markets, has facilitated the implantation of sensors about the size of a very large grain of rice within employees on a voluntary basis. “They’re intended to make it a little easier to do things like get into the office, log on to computers, and buy food and drinks in the company cafeteria,” Metz states. Essentially, participating employees can access systems and buy food in the cafeteria simply by waving their hands.


NFL players’ surprising performance hack: going vegan

CNBC, Sarah Berger from

… there’s a new performance hack taking hold in the NFL — going vegan. Brady himself teamed up with vegan meal delivery service Purple Carrot to create a meatless, dairy-free TB12 performance meal plan in 2016. (Though not vegan, his personal diet is reportedly 80 percent plant-based.)

And this year, at least 15 members of the Tennessee Titans have switched to plant-based meal plans, ESPN reported ahead of the season opener. In 2017, a reported 11 Titans had gone vegan and the team made it all the way to the playoffs for the first time in a decade, according to

Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan went vegan a year and a half ago. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and defensive lineman DaQuan Jones took the leap too. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard needed a little more convincing.


Opta and KPMG develop new analytics for soccer player valuation

SportsPro Media, Sam Carp from

Professional services giant KPMG and Perform-owned sports data company Opta have launched a new player valuation analytics tool to help soccer clubs better understand the financial impact of signings.

The KPMG Football Benchmark Player Valuation Tool will make use of proprietary algorithms and a consistent modelling approach to help foster a more informed decision-making process when clubs acquire and sell members of their squad.

The digital platform, which is powered by Microsoft, will provide market values for more than 4,000 players from the top-tier leagues in 11 countries: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.


The pros and cons of collaboration

The Economist from

… Modern communication methods mean that collaboration is more frequent. Workers are constantly in touch with each other via e-mail, messaging groups or mobile calls. But does that boost, or detract from, performance? A new study* by Ethan Bernstein, Jesse Shore and David Lazer, three American academics, tried to answer this question. They set a logical problem (devising the shortest route for a travelling salesman visiting various cities). Three groups were involved: one where subjects acted independently; another where they saw the solutions posted by team members at every stage; and a third where they were kept informed of each others’ views only intermittently.

The survey found that members of the individualist group reached the optimal solution more often than the constant collaborators, but had a poorer average result. The intermittent collaborators found the right result as often as the individualists, and got a better average solution.


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