Applied Sports Science newsletter – January 2, 2019

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for January 2, 2019


Washington Redskins RB Adrian Peterson says he has got a lot left in the tank

ESPN NFL, John Keim from

When the Washington Redskins signed Adrian Peterson in August, speculation centered on whether he could last all 16 games. Many also wondered at what level he could perform.

He’s topped 1,000 yards and he’ll play all 16 games. That’s why Peterson said he showed he could still play football at a high level.

“If you watch football, if you know anything about football, then you know that he’s still got a lot left,” Peterson, who turns 34 in March, said of himself. “If you can’t see that, you’re blind.”


Gordon Hayward preaches patience on road back

The Boston Globe, Gary Washburn from

… His return has been ragged at times, with Hayward doubting himself and whether he could contribute to the Celtics as much as he expected. But on Saturday, when he scored 14 points in the Celtics’ 112-103 victory, he was reinvigorated, and it reminded him how much fun the game is and how much fun he has with these guys when he’s engaged and relaxed.

“With each game, I get more comfortable playing with the guys,” he said following the team’s practice Sunday. “That’s the biggest thing, you gotta be able to have that experience with them on the court, to kind of know who you’re with, know who you’re playing with, just to know what everybody likes to do, try to maximize their strengths.


How Improving Your Posture Can Make You Run Better

Women's Running, Kristen Seymour from

When you think of perfect posture, what comes to mind? Images of ballet dancers, models walking with books on their heads or straight-spined yogis, perhaps? Runners aren’t necessarily where the mind immediately goes for most of us—but making that connection a bit stronger just might improve your running game.

Posture is actually quite important for runners, and to better understand exactly why, we went to Dave Ochsendorf, M.P.T., M.Ed., A.T.C., owner of Siesta Key Sports and Physical Therapy in Sarasota, Fla., where he specializes in evaluating and treating running injuries and foot and ankle pain. An avid runner himself, he’s worked with athletes of all ages and levels and believes that good posture can be a major benefit to runners for several reasons—and not just because it makes them look fast. (Although, let’s be honest—it does.)


It’s Time to Rethink the Ideal Running Cadence

Outside Online, Alex Hutchinson from

… The real crux of the paper, though, is in the actual values of cadence observed. As I mentioned at the top, the overall average cadence among all runners was 182.0. But Burns and his colleagues aren’t really interested in the average. When they originally submitted the paper, their key graphs showed the cadence measurements throughout the race for each individual runner. One of the peer reviewers asked them simplify the figure by simply plotting the pooled average values for each lap rather than each runner’s values—but Burns demurred: “My response was a more polite version of ‘No, no, no! That’s missing the point and propagating the wrong conclusions! Look at each individual!’”


To Run More Efficiently, Follow Your Bliss

Runner's World, Scott Douglas from

One big factor of your race times is something called your running economy, which is a measure of how much oxygen you consume at a given pace. Improve your running economy, and, like a car that gets better gas mileage, you’ll go faster or farther at the same effort level thanks to greater efficiency.

You’re probably familiar with some of the ways to boost your running economy, including fast intervals, hill repeats, plyometrics, lower-body weight training, form drills, and (up to a point) lighter running shoes.

Now, new research published in the Journal of Sports Sciences suggests a fun addition to the list: Tailor your runs to your in-the-moment preferences.


People use less information than they think to make up their minds

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Nadav Klein and Ed O’Brien from

A world where information is abundant promises unprecedented opportunities for information exchange. Seven studies suggest these opportunities work better in theory than in practice: People fail to anticipate how quickly minds change, believing that they and others will evaluate more evidence before making up their minds than they and others actually do. From evaluating peers, marriage prospects, and political candidates to evaluating novel foods, goods, and services, people consume far less information than expected before deeming things good or bad. Accordingly, people acquire and share too much information in impression-formation contexts: People overvalue long-term trials, overpay for decision aids, and overwork to impress others, neglecting the speed at which conclusions will form. In today’s information age, people may intuitively believe that exchanging ever-more information will foster better-informed opinions and perspectives—but much of this information may be lost on minds long made up. [full text]


Applying Role Alignment to Tracking Data

Justin Jacobs from

Once of the core applications for tracking data is the ability to apply machine learning to gain insight into player tendencies. Unfortunately, due to small samples, we cannot simply measure a particular player’s track paths and say “this player tends to do x.” Instead, we must adopt methods that lift information off a player and direct it to a player prototype. It’s this tracking-based prototype that we are able to gain enough signal to start discerning player capabilities. This process is derived from a methodology called Kriging; a procedure that every indoctrinated spatio-temporal analyst has endured in their studies. The idea is that we are able to develop a spatial indicator based on borrowing strength from spatially-local observations. In this case, spatially-local isn’t defined as nearby on the same court; but rather nearby in the space of relative position during the play.


Israeli Researchers Raise $1M For Revolutionary Eye Drops That Could Replace Glasses

No Camels, Noam Goldberg from

Researchers from Shaare Zedek Medical Center and Bar Ilan University recently raised a $1 million investment to fund research and development for eye drops they say can correct cornea-related vision problems, thereby potentially making eyeglasses obsolete.

The development of the eye drops, dubbed “nanodrops,” was first announced in March 2018 by Dr. David Smadja, a research associate at Bar-Ilan University’s Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (BINA) and the Head of the Ophthalmology Research Unit at Shaare Zedek.


What Defines a Stem Cell?

Nautilus, Jordana Cepelewicz from

For the past three years, researchers at the Hubrecht Institute in the Netherlands have been painstakingly cataloging and mapping all the proliferating cells found in mouse hearts, looking for cardiac stem cells. The elusive cells should theoretically be able to repair damaged heart muscle, so the stakes in finding them have been high. Indeed, that search, involving many labs over decades, has been marked by heated debate and, recently, a call for the retraction of more than 30 papers for falsified data. This week, however, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is scheduled to announce the results of the Hubrecht team’s work: no evidence of cardiac stem cells at all.

That conclusion, which confirms a long-standing suspicion among some in the field, cuts to the heart of a deeper question—about what it means to be a stem cell. As more sophisticated technology has revealed just how plastic and heterogeneous cell populations can be, some researchers have transitioned from viewing “stemness” as the defining trait of a cell category to viewing it as a function many types of cells can perform or contribute to.


A systematic review lead by @deanwangmd shows athletes with a history of musculoskeletal injuries played in significantly fewer games early in their NFL careers

Twitter, Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine from


The Great Sugar Debate

Nancy Clark RD from

If you are like many athletes, you are confused about the role of sugar in your daily sports diet. The anti-sugar media reports sugar is health-erosive, yet sports nutrition researchers claim sugar is performance enhancing. That might leave you wondering: Should I eat sugar or avoid it?

To address this conflict, I’ve summarized a sugar debate published in 2018 in the Journal of Progressive Cardiovascular Disease. The article, critique, and editorial do a good job of examining the question: Have the ill effects of those toxic white crystals in your diet been over-emphasized? Here is some information to help you better understand the two sides to the Sugar Wars debate.


Kristi Toliver, an N.B.A. Assistant Who’s Paid Like an Intern

The New York Times, Howard Megdal from

… It was not an easy transition for Toliver, for reasons having nothing to do with basketball aptitude, or even lack of desire for her services. After leading the Mystics to the W.N.B.A. finals in 2018, Toliver faced a decision many of her peers grapple with: Go overseas to make significant money, while forgoing an off-season, or rest her body, which could extend her career.

Then the Wizards approached her with an intriguing offer: Would she like to be an assistant on Scott Brooks’s staff? The basketball part was easy enough to figure out — the role would be no different than the others. She’d be part of the group.


Squad usage: Premier League, 31 Dec 2018

Ben Mayhew, Experimental 3-6-1 blog from


Sunday Notes: Analytics Have Changed, Leadership Hasn’t Changed

FanGraphs Baseball, David Laurila from

Last Sunday’s column led with J.D. Martinez, whose non-quantifiable impact on the Red Sox lineup was widely lauded. Deeply enmeshed in hitting mechanics and theory, the veteran slugger was both a sounding board and lead-by-example influence on several of his teammates. That didn’t go unnoticed by people around the game.

“J.D. rightfully so got credit for doing that,” said Milwaukee manager Craig Counsell, one of three managers I broached the subject with at the Winter Meetings. “It’s an important part of being a teammate — being connected and sharing. A player’s eyes are probably on each other more than they are on the coaches. They have a way to help each other, just as much as coaches do. You want to foster that environment. It’s something all teams should try to do.”


Persistence of false paradigms in low-power sciences

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, George A. Akerlof and Pascal Michaillat from

It is believed that a lack of experimental evidence (typical in the social sciences) slows but does not prevent the adoption of true theories. We evaluate this belief using a model of scientific research and promotion in which tenured scientists are slightly biased toward tenure candidates with similar beliefs. We find that when a science lacks evidence to discriminate between theories, or when tenure decisions do not rely on available evidence, true theories may not be adopted. The nonadoption of heliocentric theory in the 16th century, the persistence of bloodletting in the 19th century, the nonadoption of underconsumption theory in the early 20th century, and the persistence of radical mastectomy in the 20th century illustrate such risk. [full text]


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