Applied Sports Science newsletter – May 4, 2019

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for May 4, 2019


Crystal Dunn’s Long Road From 2015 Cut to 2019 USWNT World Cup Roster Lock, Soccer, Laken Litman from

… Dunn’s rebound from disappointment began as she played for the Washington Spirit in 2015, and while looking around for a World Cup viewing partner, she was “intrigued” by the club’s the French athletic trainer, Pierre Soubrier. She thought he was cool and kind and eventually asked if he wanted to hang out and watch the tournament at a bar. Soubrier was hesitant at first given their professional relationship. But he doesn’t deny being interested, so he agreed. The two quickly hit it off and watched almost every game together.

They were still getting to know each other, but Soubrier became Dunn’s sounding board. He listened to her vent, gave her advice and tried to get her to see the bright side. He told her to use the adversity as a learning experience and reminded her she was talented. He was also tough and of the mind that “life’s too short, and I don’t have time to waste with negative thoughts and pessimistic attitudes and ideas.” Eventually, Dunn snapped out of her funk.

“He helped me see that this was the beginning of my chapter,” Dunn says. “I think that’s what really sparked my change in character. It was realizing that soccer is a huge part of our lives, in a way it defines us, but we’re human. We’re not just these athletes that care solely about performance or being part of a roster. It’s important to keep things in perspective and he was that light that brought me into reality.


Whatever it takes — Joel Embiid’s quest for greatness

ESPN NBA, Jackie MacMullan from

… For now, on Friday in Basketball City, Brett Brown’s head is lowered as he furiously types game plans into his laptop. So he misses Embiid’s outburst. But no matter. Brown says he understands the frustration but will not be deterred by it.

“It’s always about the end game,” the coach says. “I’m constantly trying to determine what are the ripple effects of Jo being so competitive and so emotional that he’s going to force-feed something that he just shouldn’t do.

“I’m not participating in that. I’ll have nothing to do with it. He’s going to end up — or has a chance to end up — as one of the greatest players who ever lived. It’s completely driven by his health. He’s very bright, very prideful. But his emotions can’t trump reckless, irresponsible action either by him or us to go do something he shouldn’t.”


Why Tiger sitting out this week might be a sign of a new scheduling strategy

ESPN Golf, Bob Harig from

Pretty much everyone expected Tiger Woods to be at Quail Hollow this week. Wells Fargo Championship tournament officials. The PGA Tour. The media. His caddie. Perhaps even Tiger himself.

That he is not here says a lot about how big his Masters victory was to him and his future, how he might now treat the major championships, and how he is seemingly unconcerned about “tournament reps” heading into the next one.


Soccer: Lyon reaping rich rewards of greater gender equality

Reuters, Julien Pretot from

… At the heart of their achievements is a pervasive ethos that promotes gender equality throughout the club, starting in the youth academy.

In 2013, Aulas appointed former Lyon and France player Sonia Bompastor as head of the Women’s Academy — the female equivalent of one of France’s top youth set-ups that has produced players such as Karim Benzema, Alexandre Lacazette and Hatem Ben Arfa.


Football on turf is hard on the knees

Popular Science, Nicole Wetsman from

Shacking tiny rubber pellets out of cleats, hair and, occasionally, teeth, is a familiar activity to any athlete who has played on an artificial turf field. The synthetic pellets fill the spaces between long, plastic-y fibers meant to replace grass. The playing surfaces are increasingly common in high school, college, and professional sports—they’re easier to maintain than grass fields, and are weather resistant. However, athletes in some sports prefer playing on grass, and turf can cause subtle but important changes to a game.

Although the research has been mixed, concern also remains that playing on turf might pose a slightly greater injury risk than playing on grass. A new analysis published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, for example, found that playing football on turf may lead to more posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) injuries than playing the same game on grass.


[1805.02544] Need for Sleep: the Impact of a Night of Sleep Deprivation on Novice Developers’ Performance

arXiv, Computer Science > Software Engineering; Davide Fucci, Giuseppe Scanniello, Simone Romano, Natalia Juristo from

We present a quasi-experiment to investigate whether, and to what extent, sleep deprivation impacts the performance of novice software developers using the agile practice of test-first development (TFD). We recruited 45 undergraduates and asked them to tackle a programming task. Among the participants, 23 agreed to stay awake the night before carrying out the task, while 22 slept usually. We analyzed the quality (i.e., the functional correctness) of the implementations delivered by the participants in both groups, their engagement in writing source code (i.e., the amount of activities performed in the IDE while tackling the programming task) and ability to apply TFD (i.e., the extent to which a participant can use this practice). By comparing the two groups of participants, we found that a single night of sleep deprivation leads to a reduction of 50% in the quality of the implementations. There is important evidence that the developers’ engagement and their prowess to apply TFD are negatively impacted. Our results also show that sleep-deprived developers make more fixes to syntactic mistakes in the source code. We conclude that sleep deprivation has possibly disruptive effects on software development activities. The results open opportunities for improving developers’ performance by integrating the study of sleep with other psycho-physiological factors in which the software engineering research community has recently taken an interest in.


“The solution to falling numbers playing competitive sports is to change coaching.”

FootballScoop, Doug Samuels from

The Irish Examiner did an extensive piece on Wayne Goldsmith, who has worked with some of the top sports teams in the world, including the All Black and the US Swimming team among a host of others. But his real passion is finding ways to drive sports participation back up, and to educate coaches on how to do that.

In the article, he specifically mentions Fortnite, the video game that has taken the world by storm and captivated the hearts and minds of the youth today.


How the brain integrates sensory input

EurekAlert! Science News, Bielefeld University from

Researchers from Bielefeld University, Oxford University (Great Britain), and Aix-Marseille University (France) investigated this phenomenon of flexibility in perception, and have now published a study on their findings that appears in the scientific journal Neuron (29 April 2019). In their publication, the researchers reveal where sensory stimuli are integrated in the brain, and in which area of the brain this flexibility can be located. From Bielefeld University, Professor Dr. Christoph Kayser and Dr. Hame Park from the Cluster of Excellence CITEC were involved in the study.

“We are interested in how the brain processes sensory input,” says Kayser, who heads the “Cognitive Neuroscience” research group. In his work, Kayser deals with multi-sensory integration – the combination of various sensory data. This happens, for instance, when watching a movie: you hear what the characters are saying to each other while at the same time watching the movements of their lips. It is not always useful, however, for auditory and visual information to be automatically integrated in the brain: one example of this would be watching a foreign-language film that is dubbed and the movements of the actors’ lips do not match the spoken sounds.


Feet Hurt? Fix Your Hips

PodiumRunner, Brian Fullem from

… For a runner, the most important hip muscles are the Gluteal muscles (Glutes). The Gluteus Minimus and Gluteus Medius are far more important than the Gluteus Maximimus. The Minimus and Medius serve to help rotate the hip outward (abduct) and are much better controllers of pronation of the leg and foot than the smaller tendons within the lower leg and foot.

Unfortunately, in our society we spend a lot of time sitting in our cars, at our desks and bent over a computer or smart device. This leads to the Gluteal muscles being turned off, which can lead to a multitude of injuries of the feet and legs. Those muscles have to be engaged in order to help prevent and heal lower extremity running injuries.


The Whole Picture: Mental Stress

Training Peaks, Coach Blog, Simon Wegerif from

It may come as a surprise to many people (it did to me), that unless you are a professional athlete looked after by experts who are minimizing all the non-training sources of stress in your life, that training is rarely the largest component of total load. Assuming that you eat and sleep reasonably well (we will cover those later in the series), then mental stress is quite likely to be your largest stressor.

A study published in 2010 tracked the occurrence of illness, injury, and burnout amongst 30 well-trained triathletes during a full competitive season in Western Australia. Although training factors had a significant impact, the largest impact was produced by increases in psychological stress, and the same was found for the athletes’ mood scale ratings.


Recovery Force Receives Prestigious $1.8M Grant from National Institutes of Health

Business Wire, Recovery Force from

Recovery Force, LLC, a med tech innovation company, has received a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to complete development and clinically validate its flagship product, the Mobile Active Compressions™ (MAC) calf device. The innovative device is designed to prevent occurrences of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) while facilitating faster patient mobility and recovery as well as collection of meaningful data for nurses and physicians.


The Science Behind Nike’s New ZoomX Vaporfly Next% Marathon Shoe

WIRED, Science, Robbie Gonzalez from

At Sunday’s London Marathon, Eliud Kipchoge, the greatest marathoner on Earth, will toe the line in what could become the most controversial shoe his sport has ever known: Nike’s ZoomX Vaporfly Next%.

Long anticipated by the sort of runner who devotes his free time to scouring Facebook groups, Instagram pages, and online message boards for news about foams, colorways, heel-toe offsets, and inventory restocks (and who is willing to part with hundreds of dollars to gain a competitive edge), the Next%, which was unveiled this week, is the successor to Nike’s Vaporfly 4%—a shoe the company claims can make runners four percent more efficient on their feet, translating to precious minutes over the course of a race like the marathon.


Notch Wearable Sensor Review

Julian Chua, Sports Technology Blog from

Notch is a wearable mocap system that uses up to 18 sensors to track an athlete’s movement. Although not as accurate as optical mocap systems, it is still quite decent. Plus, it still has 3 main advantages including portability, easy setup and cost. For techies looking to develop a custom wearable solution for sports or rehab, the Notch SDK makes it an option worth exploring.


Myant Inc. and SMK Electronics Corporation U.S.A. Strike Strategic Partnership to Strengthen World’s First True Textile Computing™ Supply Chain

Myant, Inc. from

Toronto-based Myant Inc., the world leader in the design and development of Textile Computing™ solutions, and SMK Electronics Corporation U.S.A., a global designer and manufacturer of advanced OEM electronic components, are pleased to announce a partnership to catalyze the development of new electronic components and mechanical interfaces for application in the emerging field of Textile Computing™.

“Our strategic partnership with SMK Electronics leverages the technologies and intellectual properties of both companies to develop, manufacture and scale electronic components for Textile Computing applications™,” said Tony Chahine, CEO and Founder of Myant. “This will greatly accelerate our development of the SKIIN™ Textile Computing™ Platform–a textile-based platform designed to sustain seamless human-computer interaction.


Teens’ Appetite for Rebellion Can Counter Their Appetite for Junk Food

University of Texas at Austin, UT News from

Researchers have suggested for years that the enormous amount of food marketing bombarding kids and teens contributes to rising levels of obesity. New research published in Nature Human Behaviour suggests an ingenious workaround: exposing teenagers to the food industry’s manipulative marketing techniques to tap into their natural desire to rebel — this time, against the snack makers themselves.

“Anyone who has spent time around teenagers knows how powerful their feelings of outrage can be,” said David Yeager, a co-author on the study and an associate professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. “But what nobody had figured out was how to harness that energy to promote public health. Our experiment showed that teens’ feelings of righteous indignation are powerful enough to overcome the positive emotional associations with junk food that are created by the food companies’ manipulative marketing practices.”


Have you gone vegan? Keep an eye on these 4 nutrients

The Conversation, Clare Collins from

There are many reasons people go vegan, from wanting to be healthier, to reducing their environmental footprint, to concerns about animal welfare.

No matter what the reason, many people find it difficult to meet the nutrient intake targets for specific vitamins and minerals while on a vegan diet. These include vitamin B12, iron, calcium, and iodine.


Coaching matters

MIT Sloan School of Management, Applied Knowledge, Meredith Somers from

Bad news armchair sports fans: Your favorite team that’s struggling through a bad season would not be better off playing without a coach, no matter how loudly you yell that opinion at the television.

A new research paper from two University of Chicago public policy professors, “How Much Do Coaches Matter,” finds that coaches “explain about 20-30 percent of the variation in a team’s success.” The belief that all sports coaches are created equal (and interchangeable) “is unwarranted,” the researchers write.


Sormaz appointed as Leicester’s first Head of Football Analytics

Training Ground Guru, Simon Austin from

Mladen Sormaz has been appointed as Leicester City’s first Head of Football Analytics.

The Foxes advertised the role in November and Sormaz, who begins work with them tomorrow, will be responsible for providing “data driven insights” into performance, recruitment, sports science and medical.

He told TGG: “I’m really excited to get going. Leicester have a very talented staff and I’m keen to be a part of that expertise and energy. They are willing to invest in the process side of analytics – so not just focusing on what can be done tomorrow, but to build things from the ground up.


Exploring MLB Expansion and Relegation

The Hardball Times, Wes Jenkins from

… Allow me to introduce the brand new Major League Baseball Championship League, the second-tier division of major league baseball.

Instead of expanding the major leagues to 32 teams, with reimagined divisions and perhaps a new playoff system too, let’s create a new, second-tier, 20-team league and get rid of divisions altogether. This new system of course raises many logistical questions, so let’s address them, from most to least resource intensive.


Rockets audited ’18 Game 7, say Finals bid taken

ESPN NBA, Zach Lowe and Rachel Nichols from

The Houston Rockets believe officiating in last season’s Western Conference finals cost them an NBA championship, and in a report since sent to the league, tabulated the net result of 81 potential missed calls and non-calls in Game 7 of that series between Houston and the Golden State Warriors, according to the report and an accompanying memo, both of which have been obtained by ESPN.

“Referees likely changed the eventual NBA champion,” says the memo, addressed to Byron Spruell, the NBA’s president of league operations. “There can be no worse result for the NBA.”


The NBA is obsessed with 3s, so let’s finally fix the thing

ESPN NBA, Kirk Goldsberry from

… “There’s no basketball anymore, there’s no beauty in it,” Popovich said back in November. “Now you look at a stat sheet after a game and the first thing you look at is the 3s. If you made 3s and the other team didn’t, you win. You don’t even look at the rebounds or the turnovers or how much transition D was involved. You don’t even care.”

Pop is right. Not only has the analytics era of the NBA dramatically reshaped shot selection across the league, but shooting is by far the most important component of winning games. Teams with a higher effective field goal percentage (eFG%) than their opponents won 81 percent of their games during the regular season, and they’re winning 90 percent of them in the playoffs.


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