Applied Sports Science newsletter – January 26, 2019

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for January 26, 2019


‘Hi, I’m Tom Brady’: How the Patriots’ 41-year-old quarterback relates to teammates

The Washington Post, Adam Kilgore from

Phillip Dorsett sat on a table inside the New England Patriots’ training room, having just completed the physical that made him an official member of the franchise. Just then, one of his new teammates entered the room and walked straight toward him. “Hi,” the teammate said. “I’m Tom Brady.”

“I’m like, I know who you are,” Dorsett said this week, laughing. “You don’t have to introduce yourself.”

Dorsett, a wide receiver, is like almost every other Patriot. As Brady was winning Super Bowls and becoming an international celebrity, Dorsett was growing up. He was 9 when Brady won his first Super Bowl. The players who will line up next to Brady in an AFC divisional round playoff game Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers watched his highlights throughout — and even before — adolescence. For their whole lives, football players are never more than four years apart from their teammates. Patriots rookies this season suddenly had a quarterback 19 years older than they are.


Healed and happy, former Olympian David Leggio back in goal after life-changing injury

The Buffalo News, Bill Hoppe from

These days, David Leggio feels happy and healthy. Nearly a year after suffering a scary, life-changing concussion, the goalie is enjoying his 11th pro season.

“I’m probably better off as a person because of it,” Leggio told The News of his concussion ordeal by phone from Germany. “Yeah, at the time, it wasn’t the most fun.”

Earlier in his career, the Williamsville native said some “minor concussions” sidelined him a week or two. But Leggio had never experienced anything like the head injury he suffered March 3, when an opponent plowed into him at full speed.


USMNT exclusive: Zack Steffen focused on maintaining momentum in 2019, Ives Galarcep from

… “You obviously set goals for yourself and want to achieve them, but obviously I couldn’t have known any of this was coming,” Steffen told Goal in an exclusive interview.

“That’s what hard work and dedication to your craft can lead to. When you work hard anything can happen, and I’m just trying to go into 2019 starting where I left off in 2018.”

Steffen’s good fortune did not end with the aforementioned list, as he now finds himself reunited with new USMNT coach Gregg Berhalter and his own long-time coach with the Columbus Crew.


The good news, the reality for Alex Smith

The San Diego Union-Tribune, ProFootballDoc from

… Smith has a ring external fixator called an Ilizarov device on his right lower leg. The device has sequential rings outside that are connected to each other, and there are spoke-like wires that pierce through his leg and are connected to the rings. The origination of this type of external fixator was in rural Russia and, in fact, in the early days actual bicycle spokes were, used as that was what was available.

This confirms some of the fears that Smith has suffered significant complications. The initial thought was that he would be able to return for the start of next season. However, with the infection and multiple surgeries, including the now-confirmed report of his initial hardware implants being removed, this lengthens the recovery.

The good news is he should not lose his leg.


Kyler Murray has become the most fascinating story in sports, and he doesn’t have a wrong choice between the NFL and MLB, R.J. Anderson from

… Murray is 21 years old. His metamorphosis from who he was to who he is will continue long after he picks a sport. But in seven months’ time he’s molted away any preconceived narratives that were attached to him or forecasts that were affixed to his career. He’s no longer a kid hoping to enjoy another semester as the big man on campus. He’s now identifiable by his first name alone: Kyler — as in the guy who has a chance to do the unthinkable by becoming a first-round pick for the second time in a year. He isn’t just an athlete anymore, he’s a prism through which baseball and football can be viewed, dissected, and debated.

Before so much as taking a pro snap or swing, Murray has developed into something greater than expected. He’s become the most fascinating story in sports.


Evans Looking, Feeling Like His Old Self

Indiana Pacers from

The before and after snapshot of Tyreke Evans’ season would be the statistical equivalent of those bodybuilding advertisements that once appeared in the back of sports magazines, in which the 98-pound weakling is transformed into a muscle-bound Adonis.

In his case, however, it wasn’t a weightlifting program that brought about the improvement. It was a needle to his right knee, injecting “platelet-rich plasma” and making it pain-free again.


Monitoring Ultra-Short Heart Rate Variability and Heart Rate-Running Speed Index in an Elite Soccer Player: A Case Study

Sport Performance & Science Reports from

… This is the first study that quantified training adaptation using
HR-RS Index in a professional soccer player during his preparation phase. In the present study, the within-individual relationship between 1-min and 5-min Ln RMSSD and also their
possible associations with HR-RS Index was also investigated
for the first time. The results showed a nearly perfect association and likely trivial difference between 1-min and 5-min
Ln RMSSD. This finding supports previous recommendations
of using ultra-short term HRV recordings (3, 5, 9, 19) which
in our case (for 15 training sessions) could save 45 min of the
subjects’ busy schedule for data collection. Moreover, both 1-min and 5-min Ln RMSSD showed very large associations with
HR-RS Index (n = 15 training sessions). Progressive reductions in submaximal HRex and increases in HRV have been
associated with increased plasma volume and improvements
in aerobic fitness among soccer players in response to training in the heat (20). Taken with the observed large and very
large improvements in HR-RS Index and Ln RMSSD (both
1-min and 5-min) after preparation, it seems that these measures are effective for monitoring professional athletes’ fitness
status during short term training phases.


U.S. Soccer Launches New YNT U-14 Talent Identification Program

U.S. Soccer from

With the objective to expand and improve the Men’s Youth National Team player pool, U.S. Soccer will launch a new Youth National Teams Under-14 Talent Identification Program this month. This new scouting model will function as a collaboration between the U.S. Soccer Talent Identification department (TID) and the Youth National Teams Program.

The new YNT U-14 TID Program is designed to discover and introduce a larger base of top talents at the U-14 age group into the scouting funnel of the older U-15 to U-20 YNTs. A mini-camp format will help evaluate and inspire high-potential players while accelerating their development in an engaging and challenging environment. A similar YNT U-14 TID Program will be implemented for female players next season.


How to Take Athlete Regeneration to the Next Level

SimpliFaster Blog, Mike Arkans from

… I have two major points of contention to share that are important when working with athletes, and those are the theories of regeneration and what the current methods actually provide. The first need for coaches is to define what recovery and regeneration are today, and determine what tools and methods can bring about the outcomes that coaches and athletes are looking for. I am the founder of FlowDyn Recovery, a regeneration device that brings a medical-grade solution into the hands of those involved with sports at all levels.


Short on headline moves, Cubs quietly bolster science-driven side of operation

Chicago Sun-Times, Gordon Wittenmyer from

… [Adam] Beard is part of a deeper dive by the Cubs into holistic training and athletic preparation that integrates such elements as conditioning, mental skills, nutrition and sports science. … He joins a handful of new hires in the front office that also includes ex-big-league pitcher Craig Breslow, a Yale grad with a degree in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, as director of strategic initiatives for baseball operations.


Effects of Combined Surfaces vs. Single-Surface Plyometric Training on Soccer Players’ Physical Fitness.

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research from

The aim of this study was to compare the effects of a 8-week plyometric jump training (PJT) performed on different surfaces (grass, land-dirt, sand, wood, gym mat, and tartan-track) vs. a single-surface PJT (grass) on components of physical fitness (muscle power, speed, and change-of-direction speed [CODS] tasks) and sport-specific performance (i.e., maximal kicking velocity [MKV]) in male soccer players aged 11-14 years. Athletes were randomly assigned to a combined surfaces PJT (PJTc, n = 8), a single-surface PJT (PJTs, n = 8), or an active control (CON, n = 7). Although the PJT group trained on grass, the PJTc trained on 6 different surfaces and equally distributed the total jump volume according to the surface. Pre-post tests were conducted on grass. Significant main effects of time were observed for the countermovement jump, the standing-long-jump, the 20-cm drop jump, 30-m sprint time, CODS, and MKV (all p < 0.001; d = 0.53-0.87). Group × time interactions were identified for all jump tests, MKV, 30-m sprint time, and CODS (all p < 0.001; d = 0.58-0.71) in favor of PJTc. No significant pre-post changes were observed in the CON (all p > 0.05; d = 0.07-0.1). In conclusion, PJT is effective in improving physical fitness in young soccer players when conducted in combination with regular soccer training. Although general fitness testing and PJTs were performed on grass, larger physical fitness improvements were found after PJTc. Thus, PJTc is recommended, as it provides a better overload stimulus compared with more conventional training overload (e.g., increase in training volume or intensity). Future studies still have to address the underlying physiological adaptations after PJTc.


Children’s UX: Usability Issues in Designing for Young People

Neilsen Norman Group, Katie Sherwin and Jakob Nielsen from

Summary: New research with users aged 3–12 shows that children have gained substantial proficiency in using websites and apps since our last studies, though many designs are still not optimized for younger users. Designing for children requires distinct usability approaches, including targeting content narrowly for children of different ages.


Tiny Computers Could Transform Our Lives

Scientific American Blog Network, Stuart Biles from

… Although the development of tiny computers is exciting, there are obstacles preventing them from being deployed widely in health and other sectors. One of the biggest problems is building batteries small enough to power the devices. As the size of batteries decreases, the amount of energy they store also shrinks dramatically. The batteries needed for tiny computers are significantly smaller than the conventional small batteries used to energize other devices such as pacemakers and cochlear implants—and, says Blaauw, their capacity may be a thousand times less.

One possible solution is to find ways for devices to recharge themselves frequently. For example, beams of infrared light can remotely recharge sensors implanted in laboratory mice. Scientists are also researching how to create electricity for tiny computers using a technique known as thermoelectric energy harvesting, though they have not yet found success at such a small scale. For this latter method to work, there needs to be a temperature difference between two surfaces of a device, but the new tiny computers are so small that it’s hard to make any one part much warmer than any other. Other methods still under investigation include harnessing glucose molecules as a power source.


Verily Study Watch Receives FDA 510(k) Clearance for ECG

Verily from

In April of 2017, we launched Verily Study Watch, an investigational device for capturing health information from clinical research participants while serving as an easy-to-read watch for daily wear. Since then, Study Watch has been used by thousands of participants in clinical research studies run by Verily and through our partners, such as the Project Baseline study, Aurora study, Personalized Parkinson’s Project study, and Parkinson’s Progression Markers Initiative. Unobtrusive biosensing through devices like Study Watch and other mobile health tools is an important new approach to understanding what happens in the body at any given moment in time, and can provide insights into how our bodies stay healthy or change and adapt with disease. With built-in biometric, environmental and movement sensors, Study Watch can contribute to research efforts broadly.

One area of focus for Study Watch has been cardiovascular health, as heart disease remains the number one killer of men and women in the United States1.


Foot Locker Invests $2 Million In Pensole Footwear Design Academy To Promote Pipeline Of Designers

Forbes, Tim Newcomb from

A pipeline of diverse footwear design talent has streamed through the Pensole Footwear Design Academy in Portland ever since founder and former Jordan Brand design director D’Wayne Edward’s first class in 2010.

Foot Locker doesn’t want that to slow, announcing a $2 million investment in the academy. Through the effort, Foot Locker and its vendor partners will collaborate with Pensole on new educational programs and the design and manufacturing of exclusive products for Foot Locker.

Located in downtown Portland, just miles from Nike’s worldwide headquarters, the North American headquarters of Adidas and a major design hub for Under Armour, Pensole offers a unique blend of education geared specifically to help designers enter the footwear industry.


Cardio Fitness DNA Testing Company Rightangled Joins the ABHI Innovation Hub at Dell Medical School in Austin

PR Newswire, Rightangled from

Rightangled, a London based genetic testing company that was seed funded in 2017 by NHS England, is now entering the US market with its’ genetic testing service and cloud-based online platform that specialists and consumers can access to empower tailored health and fitness action plans.

An online platform is uniting medical and health experts to deliver rapid analysis of patients’ DNA in a bid to reduce costs and improve lives.


EvA project aims to create ‘Skyscanner for science’ from huge datasets

Silivon Republic, Cailbhe Doherty from

… Right now, I am involved with two main projects.

‘Pace-Man’ is an evidence and analytics platform and mobile app that leverages big data to inform runners’ race preparation, finish-time prediction and in-race pacing. It leverages large datasets of runners’ training and racing behaviours to determine the best way to train for an upcoming race, to help them identify a realistic target finish time and devise a pacing strategy that optimises the likelihood of them achieving that time.


Most companies let Apple ‘trample’ on them: Biometrics company co-founder

Yahoo Finance, Alexis Keenan from

… The parties reached a settlement in September 2018, according to Valencell’s president and co-founder Dr. Steven LeBoeuf. Valencell filed a separate lawsuit against Fitbit (FIT) around the same time, which remains in dispute.

“We’re very different than other [patent] litigation, that big companies like Apple experience,” LeBoeuf told Yahoo Finance. “If you look at Apple’s history of litigation…they’re either large companies, or trolls — one-man-bands, or these large groups of holding companies — that might assert.”

“We had to think about did we want to do this?” LeBoeuf said. “Most small companies decide to let themselves be trampled on because it makes a lot of sense.”


Here’s how smart toilets of the future could protect your health

NBC News, Mach, Kate Baggaley from

… “Everything these days is connected and smart, but I feel like the bathroom is a very untapped area,” says Sameer Berry, a Los Angeles-based gastroenterologist-in-training who penned a recent essay on toilet technology. “There’s not been much innovation there for hundreds of years.”


Can a Nice Doctor Make Treatments More Effective?

The New York Times, Lauren C. Howe and Kari Leibowitz from

In the age of the internet, it’s easier than ever to pull together lots of information to find the best doctor. And if you’re like most patients, the metric you probably rely on most is the doctor’s credentials. Where did she go to school? How many patients has he treated with this condition?

You might also read some Yelp reviews about how nice this doctor is; how friendly and how caring. But all that probably seems secondary to the doctor’s skills; sure, it would be great to have a doctor whom you actually like, but that’s not going to influence your health the way the doctor’s competence will.

But our research in the psychology department at Stanford University suggests that this view is mistaken. We found that having a doctor who is warm and reassuring actually improves your health.


The N.F.L.’s Obesity Scourge

The New York Times, Ken Belson from

An insidious scourge that has nothing to do with head trauma is ravaging retired N.F.L. players.

In the past few decades, the N.F.L.’s emphasis on the passing game and quarterback protection has led teams to stock their offensive and defensive lines with ever-larger men, many of them weighing well over 300 pounds. But their great girth, which coaches encouraged and which helped turn some players into multimillion-dollar commodities, leaves many of them prone to obesity problems.

In retirement, these huge men are often unable to lose the weight they needed to do their jobs. Without the structure of a team and the guidance of coaches for the first time in decades, many of them lose the motivation to stay in shape, or cannot even try, as damage to their feet, knees, backs and shoulders limits their ability to exercise.


Dietary supplements and elite athletes

mysportscience blog, Ronald Maughan from

The Medical and Scientific Commission of the International Olympic Committee assembled a panel of experts in at their offices in Lausanne, Switzerland, to discuss the place of dietary supplements in the nutrition strategy of the high-performance athlete (read the consensus paper). Participants from fields of practice, policy and research were selected because of their experience and expertise in one or more relevant areas, including nutrition, dietetics, physiology, pharmacy, medicine and anti-doping. Detailed discussion papers were prepared in advance of the meeting and were circulated to all participants. The evidence that informed these papers was presented and analysed in depth over the three days of the meeting. The papers are also published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.


From Paper to Podium: Quantifying the Translational Potential of Performance Nutrition Research | SpringerLink

Sports Medicine journal from

Sport nutrition is one of the fastest growing and evolving disciplines of sport and exercise science, demonstrated by a 4-fold increase in the number of research papers between 2012 and 2018. Indeed, the scope of contemporary nutrition-related research could range from discovery of novel nutrient-sensitive cell-signalling pathways to the assessment of the effects of sports drinks on exercise performance. For the sport nutrition practitioner, the goal is to translate innovations in research to develop and administer practical interventions that contribute to the delivery of winning performances. Accordingly, step one in the translation of research to practice should always be a well-structured critique of the translational potential of the existing scientific evidence. To this end, we present an operational framework (the “Paper-2-Podium Matrix”) that provides a checklist of criteria for which to prompt the critical evaluation of performance nutrition-related research papers. In considering the (1) research context, (2) participant characteristics, (3) research design, (4) dietary and exercise controls, (5) validity and reliability of exercise performance tests, (6) data analytics, (7) feasibility of application, (8) risk/reward and (9) timing of the intervention, we aimed to provide a time-efficient framework to aid practitioners in their scientific appraisal of research. Ultimately, it is the combination of boldness of reform (i.e. innovations in research) and quality of execution (i.e. ease of administration of practical solutions) that is most likely to deliver the transition from paper to podium. [full text]


The Numbers Behind NBA Chemistry

NBC 10 Philadelphia, Tom Haberstroh from

… Thanks to the NBA’s recent partnerships with SportVU and Second Spectrum technologies, we can see which players tend to pass to each other and even which players shoot on those passes. For example, did you know that Lonzo Ball shoots just 29 percent on 2-pointers when he receives a pass from LeBron James, but 51 percent when he’s fed by other teammates? Well, now you do.

So, which stars pass to each other the most? The least? We can take a step further and see how those player-to-player interactions change when the lights get brightest. If you want to see which players a coach trusts, don’t look at the starting lineup; look at the finishing lineup. In the same way, we can perhaps take a glimpse into which players trust other teammates when the game is on the line. For that, we’ll look at player-to-player assist rates overall and when the game enters clutch time (that is, final five minutes and game within five).


Lewin calls for Premier League to introduce injury audit

Training Ground Guru, Simon Austin from

Former England and Arsenal Head Physio Gary Lewin has called on the Premier League to carry out a “meaningful injury audit”, arguing that medical teams are being judged on data “they know is not accurate”.

The Premier League does not collect or publish injury data for first teams – only for Academies. This means that fans, media and clubs themselves are forced to rely on independent websites to discover data about injuries.

Lewin, who worked with England for 20 years and Arsenal for 22, says this information is not always correct though.

“When you’re working within a club as a medical team, sometimes you do get frustrated by the figures that are thrown around because you know they’re not accurate,” he told TGG.


This AI learns from past matches to predict tennis shot placement

VentureBeat, Kyle Wiggers from

You might have heard about AI that teaches four-legged robots to walk and autonomous systems that generate photorealistic images of butterflies, but what about models that forecast the shot location of tennis balls? In a newly published preprint paper on (“Memory Augmented Deep Generative models for Forecasting the Next Shot Location in Tennis“), researchers from Queensland University of Technology describe an AI system that’s not only capable of anticipating a tennis opponent’s actions, but doing so with “player-level” behavioral patterns.

“Inspired by recent neuroscience discoveries we incorporate neural memory modules to model the episodic and semantic memory components of a tennis player,” the researchers wrote.


UEFA report: European football profitable but gap between super-clubs and rest remains

ESPN FC, Gabriele Marcotti from

Each year, for the past decade, UEFA have released their “Benchmarking Report,” a sort of “State of the Game” across the top flights of every European league. As ever, it’s filled with interesting nuggets and takes time to sift through.

Here’s a Q&A to help make sense of it.

Q: So what’s the top-line, major takeaway?

A: Well, for the first time in the report’s history — and probably the first time ever — European top-flight clubs were profitable last year, to the tune of some $700 million. When you consider that last year they had a loss of $400m, it’s quite a turnaround. And if you go a little further back? Well, in 2011 it was a whopping $1.9 billion.


New York Knicks: Pros and cons of keeping Kristaps Porzingis out

Fansided, Daily Knicks blog, Rhys Smith from

Feb. 6, 2018 marks a nightmarish day for many New York Knicks fans: the day the unicorn, Kristaps Porzingis, tore his ACL against the Milwaukee Bucks. From then on, Knicks supporters already started to count down the days that the team’s best player would make his return to the hardwood.

Fast forward one year later and although the 7-foot-3 Latvian is making progress with his rehab, Knicks fans might have to wait longer than expected for Porzingis’ return. According to Howard Beck of Bleacher Report, the Knicks are rumored to be holding out their star player for the rest of the season.

It’s worth noting that the flip side has also been mentioned; Marc Berman of the New York Post reported that the Knicks would like Kristaps to play this season, if he’s ready to return.

Why would the Knicks keep Porzinigis out if he’s healthy?


The Perks of Moving from Shadow to Open Analytics

Socrata, Inc., Melissa Crowe from

Sharing data via email attachments may seem productive, but this IT workaround, known as shadow analytics, comes with serious drawbacks.

Along with the obvious cybersecurity risks, a free-for-all of data usage can create new and unnecessary data silos. It can cause multiple staffers or departments to reach varying conclusions, and ultimately, work against your team’s productivity.

Data is most organizations’ greatest asset, but it’s also a liability. Smart organizations use a single, authoritative source of information as their starting point.


Six Theories About Why LeBron’s Injury Status Has Been So Unclear

The Ringer, Haley O'Shaughnessy from

After being “day-to-day” in December, we now know James was always going to be out for at least three weeks. Why was no one upfront about his status?


Cubs plan to push arms in pitching development, Jordan Bastian from

The manner in which the Cubs’ front office went about overhauling the franchise is no secret. There was a distinct focus on position players in the upper tiers of the Draft, leaving trades and free agency as the primary avenues for finding impact pitching.

The consequence of that approach has been a lack of homegrown arms — a subject that is hardly lost on the leaders of the club’s player development department. There has been a change in development structure behind the scenes, however, and the Cubs believe that they finally do have an intriguing group of arms beginning to develop and emerge as future Major League talent.

“It’s just on us. We can’t just keep celebrating Kris Bryant in the 2013 Draft,” said Jason McLeod, the Cubs’ senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting. “It’s so obvious that it’s not even an elephant in the room. It’s something that drives us every day.”


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