Applied Sports Science newsletter – February 11, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for February 11, 2020


Lucy Graham interview: from working in a supermarket to captaining Everton

The Telegraph (UK), Katie Whyatt from

Once upon a time, Everton captain Lucy Graham, now 23, was not scoring the winner in front of 23,500 at Anfield but was without an agent and working in Tesco to supplement her nascent football career. Graham was an assistant shopper – the one who, when “people order their groceries online, goes around and collects it all for them”.

Specifically, she was responsible for the substitutions when products were out of stock. “They do have some straight swaps,” she explains. “Say they wanted a certain flavour of yoghurt, I would have to give them another kind, very similar, and hope they liked it. If they order something premium brand range, and I swapped it in for a basic – that’s a bit different. You need to find the bit in between.”

Graham is now among a handful of the Scotland talent pool – including Chelsea’s Erin Cuthbert, Arsenal’s Lisa Evans, Kim Little and Jennifer Beattie, and Manchester City’s Caroline Weir – now plying their trade in the Women’s Super League, but back then there was a feeling that Scotland was barely on the radar for most clubs and Graham, in a flurry of phonecalls and Google searches, had to find her own agent.


Obo Okoronkwo explains the key to having success in the NFL

USA Today, RamsWire blog, Cameron DaSilva from

… “Got to find a routine and stay consistent. Find what works for you and don’t waver from it. And if it’s giving you success, then why stop it? If anything do more. But don’t do too much, don’t do anything you can’t. Find what works for you,” Okoronkwo said, via the Rams’ official site. “Find a guy that you admire, like a pro, like a Clay Matthews or an Aaron Donald. A guy like that who just is programmed to do the right thing, see how they do it. See what they do, see what works for them. It might not be what works for you, but just explore a bunch of different things. Because if I want to be successful, I’m going to ask somebody successful how to be successful. It’s not rocket science.”


EXCLUSIVE: Herron to head up Arsenal’s new Talent ID department

Training Ground Guru, Simon Austin from

Arsenal Academy Operations Manager Lee Herron has been chosen to head up Arsenal’s new Talent ID department.

Herron joined the Gunners in the spring of 2018 after 17 years at Reading’s Category One Academy. He has worked closely with Academy Manager Per Mertesacker during his time in North London and has now been chosen to head up Talent ID after a revamp of the youth scouting department.


Air Quality and Athlete Recovery: Real-World Solutions

SimpliFaster Blog, Carl Valle from

Modern athletes have more information than ever at their fingertips, and using that knowledge requires the right plan to recover deeper and faster. For years, I have seen mystery illnesses and poor regeneration, and wish I did more investigation of air quality. Training demands that rest be complete and without complications, and poor air quality certainly interferes in the recovery of an athlete.

Not surprisingly, many coaches in elite sport search for marginal gains by looking at small areas in performance that they can manipulate. However, from what we have seen, most of those cases need to focus on bigger factors. In this article, I tackle a fresh topic for SimpliFaster, an investigation into common and sometimes rare problems that can make a difference between an athlete winning or sitting on the sidelines.


What you’re breathing, right now

Yale University, YaleNews from

… Drew Gentner, associate professor of chemical & environmental engineering and forestry & environmental studies, is currently at work on that now with a study that looks at the interiors of homes, workplaces, and vehicles, and out on the streets of Baltimore, Maryland. In collaboration with researchers at Johns Hopkins University, his lab has set up a stationary air quality monitoring network that will measure more than 50 sites throughout the city, and enlisted 100 people for the study to wear portable air monitors, each for several days.

“On any given day, a person is going to different locations — in your home, your car, your office, and different shops,” Gentner said. “Outside of the scientific goals of understanding the spatial temporal heterogeneity of exposure to air pollutants, we want to provide people the tools they need to make informed decisions and better personal choices. That’s one of the things we’re interested in: How do people’s personal choices affect air pollution?”


Portugal, a country of just 10.3 million and the defending European champion, currently has 292 professional soccer players in 45 countries beyond its borders.

Twitter, WSJ Sports from

Europe’s Most Efficient Player Factories Are in Portugal – Portugal, a country of just 10.3 million, is one of the best pound-for-pound producers of soccer talent in the world.


The Quality, Quantity, and Intraindividual Variability of Sleep Among Students and Student-Athletes

Sports Health journal from


Student-athletes are subject to significant demands due to their concurrent sporting and academic commitments, which may affect their sleep. This study aimed to compare the self-reported sleep quality, quantity, and intraindividual variability (IIV) of students and student-athletes through an online survey.

Student-athletes will have a poorer sleep quality and quantity and experience more IIV.
Study Design:

Case-control study.
Level of Evidence:

Level 4.

Sleep quality was assessed using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), while sleep quantity and IIV were assessed using the Consensus Sleep Diary. Initially, the PSQI and additional questions regarding sport participation habits were completed by 138 participants (65 students, 73 student-athletes). From within this sample, 44 participants were recruited to complete the sleep diary for a period of 14 days.

The mean PSQI score was 6.89 ± 3.03, with 65% of the sample identified as poor sleepers, but no difference was observed between students and student-athletes. Analysis of sleep patterns showed only possibly to likely small differences in sleep schedule, sleep onset latency, and subjective sleep quality between groups. IIV analysis showed likely moderate to possibly small differences between groups, suggesting more variable sleep patterns among student-athletes.

This study highlights that sleep issues are prevalent within the university student population and that student-athletes may be at greater risk due to more variable sleep patterns.


Mitochondria Found in Blood Might Bring New Tools for Early Cancer Detection

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, MSK Library Blog from

What is blood made of? While you may think that this question has already been well answered, French researchers discovered the presence of a new component in the blood.

In a breakthrough study published in The Faseb Journal, the authors report their discovery of the presence of fully functional, respiratory competent, extracellular mitochondria in blood. Prior to this study only cell‐derived mitochondrial components have been found in the extracellular space. Interestingly, Mitochondria seem to be present in large numbers: “We estimate that there are between 200 000 and 3.7 million cell-free intact mitochondria per mL of plasma”.


Ultra thin sensor measures pulse, scans fingerprints, vein patterns

ApplySci from

University of Tokyo’s Takao Someya has developed a very thin sensor, worn around the finger or arm, which measures pulses and scans fingerprints and vein patterns, which can prevent identification errors in hospitals and nursing homes.

It consists of a thin film transistor and an optical sensor, based on Takao Someya, on a sheet, allowing simultaneous high-resolution imaging and high-speed data readouts.


Improving adhesives for wearable sensors

American Chemical Society, ACS News Service Weekly PressPac from

By conveniently and painlessly collecting data, wearable sensors create many new possibilities for keeping tabs on the body. In order to work, these devices need to stay next to the skin. In a study described in ACS Omega, researchers tweaked a widely used polymer to create a potential new adhesive to keep these sensors in place.

Wearable devices are making an impact in medicine. For example, they are being used to monitor blood sugar without drawing blood, and some can automatically measure hospital patients’ vital signs. Sensors like these are often put in place using acrylic-based medical bandages. However, the adhesives on these bandages can provoke allergic reactions or cause pain when removed. Another option, silicone-based adhesives, doesn’t cause irritation, but also doesn’t stay put. Other adhesives, including bio-inspired ones that mimic gecko feet and octopus suckers, are not yet practical for mass production. To develop a better alternative, Xi Chen and Tetsushi Taguchi turned to a polymer, poly (vinyl alcohol) (PVA), which is not irritating to the skin and is currently used in some wound dressings, contact lenses and other similar items.


New Robot Does Superior Job Sampling Blood

Rutgers University, Rutgers Today from

In the future, robots could take blood samples, benefiting patients and healthcare workers alike.

A Rutgers-led team has created a blood-sampling robot that performed as well or better than people, according to the first human clinical trial of an automated blood drawing and testing device.

The device provides quick results and would allow healthcare professionals to spend more time treating patients in hospitals and other settings.


New ‘smart mound’ can help analyze pitchers’ efficiency

Associated Press, Pat Eaton-Robb from

Central Connecticut pitcher Michael Delease was throwing fastballs inside the Center for Motion Analysis and wasn’t getting much movement on his pitches.

His problem was quickly diagnosed by coaches and scientists looking at data gathered by the instrumented pitching mound from which he was throwing, the electrodes attached to his body and the motion-capture cameras in the lab.

A slight arm angle adjustment and moments later, Delease’s ball was jumping.


High foot arches: what they are and how to manage the problems they cause

220 Triathlon, Alex Parford from

Pes Cavus (high foot arches) is an inherited condition in which the foot has a high medial arch. Pes Cavus doesn’t necessarily cause pain, but it does cause you to place more weight and stress on the ball and heel of the foot while standing and walking. It can be difficult to find shoes (especially cycling shoes) that have enough room for a high arch and unfortunately this could lead to plantar fasciitis and metatarsalgia (hot foot).


Eat And Drink Away Sore Muscles

PodiumRunner, Matt Fitzgerald from

… there are also nutritional measures that can address muscle soreness in a few distinct ways.

Keep the Carb Fuel Gauge High

One of the simplest things you can do to reduce the amount of tissue damage your muscles are subjected to during running is to consume a sports drink during your longer runs. When muscle glycogen stores fall low late in long runs, the muscles rely increasingly on breaking down their own proteins to provide an alternative fuel source.


Gatorade Performance Partner @GPPartner Hydration will play a key role in your upcoming season.

Twitter, Gatorade Performance Partner from

Fluid needs are individualistic and rely on a variety of factors, including personal sweat rate, exercise intensity, environmental conditions and exercise duration. #GSSI (Credit @K_S_Institute)


#OptaPro Forum 2020

Keith Lyons, Clyde Street blog from

The six main presentations were:

  • Karun Singh: Learning to watch football: Self-supervised representations for tracking data.
  • David Quartey: How do attacking and defending strategies affect goalscoring opportunities from throw-ins?
  • David Perdomo Meza, Daniel Girela and Mark Thompson: Tactical insight through team personas.
  • Santhosh Narayanan: Modelling event sequences in football using multivariate point processes.
  • Dan Barnett: I’m in a wide open space: creating opportunities at set pieces.
  • Vignesh Jayanth: Identifying and evaluating strategies to break down a low-block defence.

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