Applied Sports Science newsletter – January 29, 2019

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for January 29, 2019


Jabari Parker’s Fairytale Chicago Return Headed Quickly Toward Unhappy Ending

Bleacher Report, Ken Berger from

Jabari Parker watched from the bench again on Wednesday night. It wasn’t a new vantage point for Parker, who was pulled from the Bulls’ playing rotation in mid-December. But this time, it wasn’t due to a perceived lack of production. Rather, Parker experienced knee pain during warm-ups and was held out with what the Chicago Bulls described as a right patellar tendon strain.

At this point, his relationship with the franchise can best be described as beyond strained; his homecoming to the city where he won four straight state titles at Simeon Career Academy has been a massive disappointment to all involved.


Blue Jays’ Merryweather talks Tommy John, learning from Indians aces, Arden Zwelling from

… trying to work your way up an organization like Cleveland’s as a starting pitcher is a steep hill. The Tribe has finished with a top-10 rotation ERA four years running, and this past season featured four pitchers — Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, Carlos Carrasco, and Mike Clevinger — who could have fronted a number of staffs across MLB.

But Merryweather looked at the crowded field as a benefit. He relished the opportunity just to share gym space with Cleveland’s big-leaguers last spring, and tried to model his own work after the arms ahead of him on the depth chart.

“It was awesome being able to watch those guys up close, seeing their routines,” he says. “It was a big factor in me learning, like, ‘Wow, that’s what it takes at the big-league level.’ All those guys really improved themselves right in front of my eyes. Just to see how much they were able to grow, even at their level, was insane.”


Tom Brady uses his eyes as the ultimate tool of deception

The Boston Globe, Nora Princiotti from

Duron Harmon practically groaned. For years, he’s seen in practice what has duped countless NFL defenders in games: Tom Brady looking one way long enough to send some poor safety or linebacker running in that direction, then snapping his eyes back at the last second and throwing to a receiver left open when the defender fell for Brady’s most deceptive tool — his eyes.

“Tremendous,” the Patriots safety said of Brady’s level of trickery. “Probably the best that I’ve been against. He just knows everything.”

Play quarterback long enough at a high enough level and it’s like getting super powers. With an encyclopedic knowledge of defenses and footwork and throwing motion honed by thousands of dropbacks, Brady has mastered a technique like no other quarterback.


Christian Ramirez determined to make most of second chance with U.S. national team

Los Angeles Times, Kevin Baxter from

“You don’t want to look back and be like ‘Oh, I didn’t get the most out of it,’ something that I felt like I didn’t do last year. I’m really trying to hold on to this year.”

That plan seems to be working. Ramirez survived this week’s roster cut and is one of three forwards remaining on a U.S. team that will play Panama on Sunday in Gregg Berhalter’s first game as coach.

“He looks confident. And that’s what you want,” Berhalter said of Ramirez, who scored nine goals in 27 games in a 2018 MLS season split between Minnesota United and the Los Angeles Football Club. “You want players that can take what they’ve done in an MLS season and bring it to the national team environment with confidence and understand that they are good players. That’s why they’re here.”


Why Are Young People Pretending to Love Work?

The New York Times, Erin Griffith from

Never once at the start of my workweek — not in my morning coffee shop line; not in my crowded subway commute; not as I begin my bottomless inbox slog — have I paused, looked to the heavens and whispered: #ThankGodIt’sMonday.

Apparently, that makes me a traitor to my generation. I learned this during a series of recent visits to WeWork locations in New York, where the throw pillows implore busy tenants to “Do what you love.” Neon signs demand they “Hustle harder,” and murals spread the gospel of T.G.I.M. Even the cucumbers in WeWork’s water coolers have an agenda. “Don’t stop when you’re tired,” someone recently carved into the floating vegetables’ flesh. “Stop when you are done.” Kool-Aid drinking metaphors are rarely this literal.

Welcome to hustle culture.


On the Spread of Behavior: Five Questions for Damon Centola

Undark magazine, Louise Fabiani from

Suppose you have an idea that you hope will influence a large group of people. It might be something to improve their health or encourage them to vote for a political party. How do you spread that idea widely and quickly?

“Weak ties are good for spreading information,” the author says, “but for a complex behavioral contagion to spread, we need more than awareness.”

You might think social media would be far more effective than word of mouth. But it’s generally not that straightforward, according to Damon Centola, the author of “How Behavior Spreads: The Science of Complex Contagions.” He argues that so-called strong ties, which tend to be with family members, close friends, and coworkers are generally more powerful in changing behavior than weak ties — long-distance connections formed on social media or with acquaintances or friends of friends, though weak ties work well enough for spreading simple ideas and gossip.


Why Do We Sleep?

Scientific American Blog Network, Teodora Stoica from

… When overcome by drowsiness but still awake, brain waves become slower, increase in height (amplitude) and become more synchronous (alpha waves). The first official stage of sleep serves as transition between awake and sleep, and is characterized by theta waves, which are even slower in number (frequency) and greater in amplitude than alpha waves. Many sleep-deprived individuals experience microsleeps (frighteningly, while driving!), which are second-long temporary sleep episodes where theta waves replace alpha wave activity. Most people are not even aware they were asleep.

During stage 2 sleep, theta wave activity continues, interspersed with oscillations between the thalamus, a region of the brain regulating sleep, and the rest of the cortex. Stages 1 and 2 are relatively “light” stages of sleep, where waking up is easy and the sleeper might not recognize they were asleep at all.

Onto stage 3 and 4, characterized by delta waves, the slowest and highest amplitude brain waves, the most unlike waking brain waves. Since delta sleep is the deepest sleep, it is the most difficult stage in which to wake sleepers, and when they are awakened, they are usually sleepy and disoriented.


Fatigue Units: A Conversation with BDG Research Director Dr. Mike Sonne

Baseball Development Group, Dr. Stephen Osterer from

Last week, Baseball Development Group had it’s preliminary 2019 ‘Research Meeting’ to discuss our upcoming plans, projects, and talk shop about what we want to accomplish in the next twelve months (there are some cool things that we can get into that later on in this blog).

At the end of the meeting, we decided that it would probably be a good idea to have a conversation with our Research Director, Dr. Mike Sonne (@drmikesonne), to go over his background, what he’s looking into, and our future endeavours at BDG. Here’s a copy of our conversation – buffed up afterwards with some editing.


New technology gives unprecedented look inside capillaries

Northwestern University, Northwestern Now from

More than 40 billion capillaries — tiny, hair-like blood vessels — are tasked with carrying oxygen and nutrients to the far reaches of the human body. But despite their sheer number and monumental importance to basic functions and metabolism, not much is known about their inner workings.

Now a Northwestern University team has developed a new tool that images blood flow through these tiny vessels, giving insight into this central portion of the human circulatory system. Called spectral contrast optical coherence tomography angiography (SC-OCTA), the 3D-imaging technique can detect subtle changes in capillary organization for early diagnosis of disease.

“There has been a progressive push to image smaller and smaller blood vessels and provide more comprehensive, functional information,” said Vadim Backman, who led the study. “Now we can see even the smallest capillaries and measure blood flow, oxygenation and metabolic rate.”


Waterproof workout patch studies a surprising source of info: your sweat

Los Angeles Times, Sean Greene from

… “A lot of the chemistry that’s happening in the body shows up in the sweat,” said materials scientist John Rogers, whose research group at Northwestern University developed the device.

The circular plastic patch measures 1.5 inches across and sticks to the skin like a bandage. Embedded within are a few electronic gizmos that transmit information on the amount of sweat and temperature of the skin to a smartphone and allow the device to charge wirelessly.

A hair-sized opening at the center collects a small volume of sweat, which fills a “microchannel” that snakes around the face of the device in a serpentine pattern similar to a flower. It’s like a bendy straw, only a thousand times smaller.

“Sweat glands can push sweat through these really tiny channels,” Rogers said.


Injury Prevention in Baseball: from Youth to the Pros

Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine from

Baseball is a widely popular sport, which has led to a focus on injury epidemiology and prevention. While the majority of research regarding baseball injuries focuses on pitchers, fielders and catchers are also at risk. In an attempt to decrease non-contact injuries in the upper and lower extremities, stretching and strengthening exercises are vitally important. Because injury profiles demonstrate significant variability from youth to professional baseball, unique prevention strategies are likely necessary at each level. More research is needed to develop and validate appropriately targeted injury prevention programs. [full text]


Nutrition News: How Do We Know What to Believe?

Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter from

Misinterpretation, misunderstanding, and purposeful misleading are common in science writing. These tips may help you identify trustworthy sources.


How Trick Plays Subvert Expectations at the Super Bowl

The New Yorker from

In football, trick plays can create a moment of glory or fail spectacularly on the Super Bowl stage. Here we look at some famous plays and why they matter.


AP analysis: NFL centers seeing shorter career longevity

Associated Press, Mark Long from

Pro Bowl center Alex Mack rattled off all he does before the snap: Checks for blitzes, keeps an eye on the play clock, makes blocking adjustments and communicates all the changes to everyone else.

All that happens in seconds — and with 300-pound defenders a few inches away and ready to pounce.

“It’s unlike anything else in football,” the Atlanta Falcons standout said.

Some might argue the center is the most indispensable player on the roster — the player who mans the only position guaranteed to touch the ball on every play. He calls the shots for the offensive line and begins each play.

But an Associated Press analysis revealed that despite their unique skill set, it was centers — not running backs, linebackers or defensive backs — who were becoming more endangered more quickly than players at any other position . In 2009, the average center had six years in the league. This season, the average center had four years of experience.


Resting Kawhi Leonard in January should reward Raptors in playoffs, Arden Zwelling from

As a Toronto Raptors fan, what are you more interested in? The team winning an inconsequential mid-season game, 120-105, over the Sacramento Kings, an out-of-conference opponent they’ll only see again if something cataclysmically unprecedented occurs and the Kings not only qualify for the playoffs for the first time in a dozen seasons, but reach the NBA Finals? Or the fact that Kawhi Leonard missed a third consecutive game due to “load management,” and is scheduled to miss a fourth Wednesday night when the Raptors play the Indiana Pacers?

If you answered the latter, good news — you agree with the Raptors organization and its approach to Leonard’s workload.

“It’s a medical decision from our medical team,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said before Tuesday’s game, hinting at the obvious fact he’d much rather have Leonard playing than not. “It’s just a load management thing. I think he’s played, what, 35, 36 games now after playing nine a year ago? It’s just a chance to get him some extended rest.”


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