Applied Sports Science newsletter – November 26, 2018

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for November 26, 2018


An upbeat Denzel Valentine views ankle surgery as a chance to reset his career path: ‘It could be a blessing in disguise’ – Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune, K.C. Johnson from

… “It’s going to take four to six months to get back right,” an upbeat Valentine said Tuesday at the Advocate Center. “But when I come back, it’s going to be a brand-new ankle. And I’ve been pretty much having ankle issues ever since my rookie year. I think I’m going to be fine. I think it’s going to feel better. I think I’m going to take my game to another level.

“I’m going to be more stable with my ankle. I’ll have a whole year to recover and get my body right, which I haven’t gotten to do since college. I’ve just been on the go. It could be a blessing in disguise. That’s how I have to look at it.”


How can Renato Sanches be so bad at one club and so good at another?

The Guardian, Stuart James from

The midfielder is rebuilding his career at Bayern and is clearly a huge talent, which makes his failed spell at Swansea so baffling


There’s Nothing O-Lines Can Do About Aaron Donald

Bleacher Report, Mirin Fader from

He’s been described as humble and kind. But the unblockable Rams defensive end, who can bench press 500 pounds and tear a facemask off of a helmet, will mow down your QB without saying a word.


Mikaela Shiffrin Embraces the Next Stage, With Roger Federer as a Guide

The New York Times, Bill Pennington from

Mikaela Shiffrin made her debut on the professional World Cup ski racing tour in 2011 when she was 15. Two years later, she was the first American to win two World Cup races before she was 18. A year after that, she was the youngest Olympic slalom champion in history.

Times have changed.

Before a recent race, Shiffrin was looking at the list of competitors when she realized — gasp! — she was older than nearly half the field.

“I’ve been used to being the baby,” said Shiffrin, 23. “But now I hear the birth year of some girls and I swear it sounds like ‘2017,’ and I’m like, ‘Wait, what?’”


Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point a rising superstar, loves napping

ESPN NHL, Greg Wyshynski from

… Point was an average skater in Moose Jaw for coach Tim Hunter, and was an average skater when he first arrived in camp. Then he trained under Barb Underhill, an Olympic pairs skater who’s worked marvels with a number of NHL players as a coach.

“I said at the beginning of the year that she’s already co-MVP of the team. Brayden Point might be her best pupil,” said Brian Engblom, color analyst for the Lightning.

What did she help him improve?

“She worked a lot with me on getting my ankle to bend more. That way you’re on the better part of your blade, you can glide better, you’re always ready to push off. Keeping me off my heels was a big help,” Point told ESPN.

“If you’re able to help get somewhere quicker, on offense or on defense, it’s an advantage. When you look at players like [Connor] McDavid and [Nathan] MacKinnon, they really have that next-level speed. It helps them.


In pursuit of the ‘Unbreakable’ Athlete: what is the role of moderating factors and circular causation?

British Journal of Sports Medicine, Editorial from

The goal for sports medicine practitioners is to develop robust athletes, capable of withstanding high training and competition loads. For sports medicine professionals, understanding the workload–capacity relationship is central to achieving this goal. This editorial discusses how two different methodological frameworks—(1) moderation and (2) circular causation—align to develop physical capacity and injury resilience in athletes.


Do short rest periods help or hinder muscle growth?

Medium, Wellness, Chris Beardsley from

… Short rest periods of 1–2 minutes between sets produce less muscle growth compared to longer rest periods of 3–5 minutes. This is probably caused by the higher levels of central nervous system fatigue that are present at the point of starting the next set, when using a shorter rest period duration, which reduces the level of motor unit recruitment we can achieve, and therefore decreases the number of stimulating reps in each set to failure. Practically, we can compensate for the reduced number of stimulating reps doing additional sets, although resting longer might be preferable for most people, given that the end result is the same.


Applying the acute:chronic workload ratio in elite football: worth the effort?

British Journal of Sports Medicine from

The use of the acute:chronic workload ratio (A/C) has received a growing interest in the past 2 years to monitor injury risk in a variety of team sports.1 ,2 This ratio is generally computed over 28 days (ie, load accumulated during the current week/load accumulated weekly over the past 28 days), using both internal (session-rate of perceive exertion (Session-RPE)×duration) and external (tracking variables, often Global Positioning System (GPS)-related, such as high-speed running and acceleration variables) measures of competitive and training load. While the potential benefit of such a metric is straight forward for practitioners, there remain several limitations to (1) the assessment of relative external load and in turn, injury risk in players differing in locomotor profiles and (2) the effective monitoring of overall load across all training and matches throughout the year. In turn, these limitations likely compromise the usefulness of the A/C ratio in elite football (soccer).


Duke to Use mHealth Wearables to Help Freshmen Improve Health

mHealth Intelligence, Eric Wicklund from

Duke University will be arming incoming freshmen with smartwatches next year in an mHealth program that aims to improve student health outcomes.

The WearDuke program, developed by Geoff Ginsburg, a professor of medicine, and Susanne Haga, an associate professor of medicine, both with Duke’s Center for Applied Genomics and Precision Medicine, will use the wearables to track new students’ sleep and activity.

“We will initially be focusing on sleep because sleep is very well documented (as something) college students don’t get enough of,” Haga said in a story supplied by the university. “And it’s important to health, mental well-being and academic performance.”


Barcelona team up with Fifa to unify player data

SportsPro Media, Sam Carp from

… Soccer teams typically use in-house and external providers to store data collected during training and matches, making it difficult to compare information when players switch clubs or play for their national sides because the data is in a different format.

In an attempt to unify that data, Fifa is now collaborating with the La Liga giants’ innovation hub to launch the Electronic Performance and Tracking Systems (EPTS), which will allow clubs to exchange and compare information in a unified and standardised fashion. The two parties hope that the platform will be used across the game to help both clubs and national teams improve their performance.


ShotTracker makes big debut in NCAA tournament at Sprint Center [PHOTOS]

Kansas City Business Journal, Leslie Collins from

ShotTracker LLC has checked off a number of firsts, several of which happened during this week’s Hall of Fame Classic, an NCAA Division I basketball tournament in Kansas City.

It marked the first time its sports analytics and stats technology debuted at Sprint Center and was featured during ESPN’s live game coverage. It also was the first time the NCAA granted a tech waiver, which allowed coaches to use an iPad to access ShotTracker’s real-time stats and analytics during live competition.

During a news conference, the coaches shared how they used the Merriam company’s technology to shape their strategy during the game, ShotTracker co-founder and COO Davyeon Ross told the Kansas City Business Journal.

“They talked about this is the future — this is trend-setting,” he said.


A protocol to prospectively assess risk factors for medial tibial stress syndrome in distance runners

BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation journal from


Medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS) is a lower leg injury with a reported incidence rate of up to 35% in active individuals. Although numerous prospective studies have tried to identify risk factors for developing MTSS, managing the syndrome remains difficult. One risk factor yet to be extensively explored in MTSS development is reduced lower leg girth. Further investigation of reduced lower leg girth is required due to the important role lower leg musculature plays in attenuating ground reaction forces during the gait cycle. Therefore, the primary aim of this study is to ascertain whether lower leg muscle morphology and function contribute to the development of MTSS. Our ultimate aim is to identify potential risk factors for MTSS that can be targeted in future studies to better manage the injury or, preferably, prevent individuals developing MTSS.

This study will be prospective in design and will recruit asymptomatic distance runners. All participants will be tested at base line and participants will have their training data longitudinally tracked over the following 12 months to assess any individuals who develop MTSS symptoms. At base line, outcome measures will include bilateral measures of lower limb anthropometry; cross sectional area (CSA) and thickness of the tibialis anterior, peroneals, flexor digitorum longus, flexor hallucis longus and thickness of soleus, medial and lateral head of gastrocnemius. Tibial bone speed of sound, ankle dorsiflexion range of motion, strength of the six previously described muscles, foot alignment and ankle plantar flexor endurance will also be assessed. Participants will also complete a treadmill running protocol where three-dimensional kinematics, plantar pressure distribution and electromyography data will be collected.

This study will aim to identify characteristics of individuals who develop MTSS and, in turn, identify modifiable risk factors that can be targeted to prevent individuals developing this injury. [full text]


Cells beneath the skin explain differences in healing

Yale University, YaleNews from

Differences in the cells that give skin its resilience and strength during wound repair may explain why individuals heal differently, according to a new Yale study published Nov. 23 in the journal Science.

Fibroblasts, the cells that form the protein structure beneath the surface of the skin, were once thought to be fairly uniform in their function. However, the new study found that subsets of fibroblasts may explain why skin regeneration is less robust in older people and how certain types of scars form.

“These subsets of cells may explain different healing potentials in different people,” said senior author Valerie Horsley, associate professor of molecular, cellular, and developmental biology.


Impressions from VIS ’18

John Stasko from

… In another invited talk at VDS, Kirk Goldsberry of ESPN, formerly with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, spoke about his experiences bringing data visualization to sports analytics. He is perhaps most famous for his heatmap visualizations of shot locations in professional basketball. Much of his talk focused on why we don’t see visualization used more in sports analytics. One simple answer he gave was “politics” but he enumerated three more specific reasons: 1. The constraints of media; 2. Sports analysts don’t know how to make visualizations; and 3. Sports executives don’t demand visualizations – it’s simply not a part of their culture. He also argued that visualization experts underestimate how much general managers only care about an answer (“Just tell me how much the house should cost, dude.”) In a very pertinent metaphor, Kirk believes that visualization scientists are good take at take-off and flying the plane, but we need to be better at landing it. He also interjected what was likely my favorite quote of the entire conference when he characterized legendary NBA player and announcer Charles Barkley as “more of a qualitative social scientist.”


Yep – expertise just means you’ve got better priors / feature weights, which as we know are often best developed through lots of weak learners. Every cheap attempt is just a weak learner, so faster loops = more attempts = better estimator

Twitter, Abe Stanway and Sean J. Taylor from

This is the most important thing I’ve learned as both a researcher and an engineer. The implication is to find out why you’re learning slowly and make investments to speed it up as much as possible.


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