Applied Sports Science newsletter – October 15, 2019

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for October 15, 2019


How Gerrit Cole Went From So-So To Unhittable

FiveThirtyEight, Travis Sawchik from

… So how did Cole go from being an unexceptional strikeout pitcher to the game’s best K artist, and perhaps a favorite to win the AL Cy Young Award? It’s a story about his fastball, a pitch that has transformed from a middling offering to the game’s best, according to FanGraphs run values.

“He’s essentially throwing laser beams, or as close to it as I’ve ever seen from a human,” said one MLB front office official.


NBA exec: ‘It’s the dirty little secret that everybody knows about’

ESPN NBA, Baxter Holmes from

… Fatigue has long been a reality of life in the NBA, a league with teams that play 82 games in under six months and fly up to 50,000 miles per season — roughly 20,000 more miles each season than NFL teams and far enough to circle the globe twice. Over the 2018-19 season, the average NBA team played every 2.07 days, had 13.3 back-to-back sets and flew the equivalent of 250 miles a day for 25 straight weeks.

Some in the league, from players and coaches to training personnel, have begun to suspect that the toll extracted by the NBA grind — the combination of the sport’s physical demands, the circadian disruptions, the six to eight months of travel across time zones — is not fully appreciated. Some of those specialists have begun compiling data. And that data suggests that sleep deprivation is the NBA’s silent scourge — a pox on the bodies and minds of NBA athletes, with impacts both wide and deep.

One NBA GM calls it a “very big issue.” Another GM adds, “We have a large population of vampires as it is — add in the travel and it’s more so. We all want better solutions to this.” Says a third, “It is a real problem for the entire league.”


Brigid Kosgei, Eliud Kipchoge herald new era of fast marathons

NBC Sports, Olympic Talk, Beau Dure from

… The two feats had some common threads. Both runners are Kenyan, no surprise in an event in which the top 100 men’s performances of all time are almost exclusively Kenyan and Ethiopian and the top of the women’s all-time list is similarly homogeneous aside from the presence of British runner Paula Radcliffe, whose time of 2:15:25 had stood as the world record for 16 1/2 years until Sunday. Radcliffe was present in Chicago to greet Kosgei when her record fell.

Kipchoge and Kosgei also wore the same shoes, Nike’s ZoomX Vaporfly NEXT%, thanks to Kosgei’s last-minute decision to switch. Earlier versions of those shoes, like the high-tech swimsuits that were eventually banned from competition or golf equipment whose advertising revels in their alleged illegality,


Kipchoge yet to make Tokyo 2020 plans, targets full recovery

Reuters from

Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge said he needs time to recover physically and mentally after becoming the first person to run a marathon in under two hours and has yet to decide if he will defend his title at next year’s Tokyo Olympics.


Does mental fatigue impair physical performance? A replication study

SportRXiv Preprints; Darias Holgado, Esther Troya, José C. Perales, Miguel Vadillo, Daniel Sanabria from

Objective: to replicate the hypothesis that mental fatigue impairs physical performance.
Design: a pre-registered (, randomized, within-subject experiment.
Methods: 30 physically active sports people completed a time-to-exhaustion test (TTE) at 80% VO2max in two separate sessions, after completing a mental fatigue task or watching a documentary for 90 min. We measured power output, heart rate, RPE and subjective mental fatigue state.
Results: Bayes factor analyses showed moderate-to-strong evidence for the null hypothesis (i.e., no evidence of reduced performance) for average time in TTE (BF+0 = 0.102) and anecdotal evidence for the null hypothesis in RPE (BF+0 = 0.345) and heart rate (BF+0 = 0.387), although the Bayes factor analyses revealed extreme evidence supporting the alternative hypothesis that the mental fatigue task was more mentally fatiguing than the control task, BF+0 = 116.69
Conclusions: our data seem to challenge the idea that mental fatigue has a negative influence on exercise performance. Although we did succeed at manipulating subjective fatigue, this did not impair physical performance. However, we cannot discard the possibility that mental fatigue may have a negative influence under different conditions, e.g., in the long term. Our replication study opens interesting avenues for future studies in this field with more rigorous methodological practices, such as a priori power calculation, data sharing or pre-registration


College football: Nebraska can’t live up to Scott Frost’s own words.

USA Today Sports, Dan Wolken from

The hardest thing to reconcile about Nebraska isn’t the losing. Nebraska has lost for a long time, and it can’t be shocking to anyone when the Cornhuskers get manhandled by a better team, even if that team is Minnesota.

But look at these preseason quotes from second-year coach Scott Frost: “If I’m just comparing apples to apples with where we were last year, I know we’re a long way ahead of where we were. Guys’ understanding is better. I think they’re more physically ready to go. I think they’re fresh. I think they’re excited. I think they’re more confident. So, I’m pleased with where we are now, but we need to go out and prove it.”

Or how about this one at Big Ten media days: “Probably of all the areas we’ve improved, strength and conditioning across the board on our team has improved the most.”


Who produces better ideas: individuals or teams?

Stanford University, from

This is a silly question: most creativity comes from a blend of individual and group work. Let’s break it down together.


RocketBody CEO Tim Lipsky on How ECG Is Transforming Fitness Tracking

Observer, Gabriela Barkho from

As one of the 25 companies chosen for a 60-second flash pitch at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco this month, RocketBody is currently leading the electrocardiography (ECG)-based fitness pack. By processing ECG data through the wrist using machine learning, the subscription training service can customize workouts based on the user’s fitness condition, recovery level and “optimal load level.”

It all began four years ago, when former professional wrestler Tim Lipsky began work on fitness tracking technology aimed at helping athletes train safely. Eventually, he and his team ended up working with what’s now known as ECG signal processing, which Apple launched beginning with its Series 4 watch. What began as a proprietary wearable, mainly sold to professional sports players, has become one of the earliest examples of ECG use in consumer health tech.


Performance data analysts PlayMaker becomes USL Preferred Supplier

Inside World Football from

The United Soccer League (USL) that recently announced David Beckham’s Miami FC and MLS old-stager new England Revolution as entering development teams in its third tier League One division, has added performance data providers PlayerMaker as a ‘preferred partner’.


Societal Computing Faculty Highlight: Mayank Goel

YouTube, Carnegie Mellon Institute for Software Research from

Learn more about Societal Computing faculty member, Mayank Goel, and how he is leveraging the most ubiquitous tech in the world — the smartphone — to bring advanced healthcare solutions to parts of the world that need it the most.


Fathom AI announces rollout of revolutionary wearable, biometric sensors for sports injury prevention

Sports Wearable from

Fathom AI, a leader in sports injury prevention through technology, today announced plans to release its 3-sensor wearable for endurance athletes of all abilities on October 1, 2019. These wearable sensors are first of their kind, and pair with Fathom’s proprietary app, using artificial intelligence and the athlete’s biodata to build a customized training prep and recovery routine to prevent sports injury associated with repetitive use.

“At Fathom, we’ve meticulously synthesized decades of human movement research and clinical best practices and paired it with cutting edge sensors and machine intelligence to really move the needle for users’ athletic resilience,” says Fathom AI founder Ivonna Dumayan. “Many people don’t realize that the most effective injury prevention may start with just 10 or 15 minutes daily of data- driven prep and recovery to keep small things from becoming serious injuries.”


Leading with flavor encourages healthy eating

Stanford University, Stanford News from

Eating well isn’t always easy, and the reality is simply telling people which foods to avoid doesn’t do much to get them to eat better. What does work, Stanford psychologists now argue, is highlighting how tasty nutritious food can be. Evocative labels such as “twisted citrus glazed carrots” and “ultimate chargrilled asparagus” can get people to choose and consume more vegetables than they otherwise would – as long as the food is prepared flavorfully.

“This is radically different from our current cultural approach to healthy eating which, by focusing on health to the neglect of taste, inadvertently instills the mindset that healthy eating is tasteless and depriving,” said Alia Crum, an assistant professor of psychology and the senior author on the new paper. “And yet in retrospect it’s like, of course, why haven’t we been focusing on making healthy foods more delicious and indulgent all along?”


Why the Way You Think About Your Body Matters

Psychology Today, Jessical Alleva from

The way that you think about your body matters. Research from our lab at Maastricht University has shown that thinking about what your body can do – rather than how it looks – can help you to feel more positively about your body. In a recent collaboration between our lab and researchers from the University of Gothenburg, we took a closer look at why this is the case.


Warriors exec trying to carry rhythm and flow into roster decisions –

San Francisco Chronicle, Rusty Simmons from

The Warriors are in a tough spot: handcuffed by the hard salary cap, with a 14-man roster and no healthy centers.

In sticky situations, the Warriors often call David Kelly.

“David Kelly’s expertise in many different areas of our business cannot be understated, nor can his value,” club president Rick Welts said. “As an organization, we have made it a priority for our business and basketball staffs to work together as a collaborative group, and David has been instrumental in the success we’ve had with this model.”


If you’re into the field of football analytics, you should check out our SPADL representation for match event data that @TomDecroos just presented.

Twitter, Jan Van Haaren from


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