Applied Sports Science newsletter – February 21, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for February 21, 2020


Alex Wood ready to go in Dodgers camp, Ken Gurnick from

… “I wouldn’t have come back here if I wasn’t in the rotation,” said Wood. “I love these guys and this organization. When I saw that was my role, I hit the ground running. We wouldn’t have rekindled this relationship if we weren’t on the same page. I’m excited, I feel great and I honestly can’t wait to contribute to help win as many games as possible.

“I had eight teams that were in on me and those teams came to watch me throw, and I think I surprised them.”

Wood is back to using both his windup and stretch delivery, all incorporated in the tweaks he made with input from Driveline Baseball.


Zion Williamson’s second jump might be the most impressive part of his game: ‘It’s like a different species’, Christian Clark from

Zion Williamson can teleport.

At least, if you’re trying to keep him off the offensive glass, it might seem that way. In Williamson’s NBA debut Jan. 22, the San Antonio Spurs were reminded that the normal rules of getting from point A to point B don’t apply to the 19-year-old. In the fourth quarter, Williamson missed a turnaround layup. His momentum was carrying him left — away from the basketball. But in one fluid motion, Williamson landed, leaped again, collected his own miss and finished on the opposite side of the lane.


‘There are only so many bullets’ — Rui Hachimura’s unique NBA journey and the dangers of AAU

NBC Sports Philadelphia, Tom Haberstroh and Chase Hughes from

… Hachimura’s star-turn is remarkable considering he didn’t play basketball until 2012, when he was 14 years old. Then again, this year’s All-Star Weekend was, on some level, proof that you don’t have to be a basketball lifer to ascend to the top of the sport. Pascal Siakam didn’t start playing basketball until he was 16 years old. Like Siakam, Joel Embiid was devoted to soccer until he picked up a basketball at the age of 15.

For Hachimura, growing up in a baseball-obsessed country of Japan, it seemed almost destined that he would spend his life on a diamond instead of a hardcourt. Even his first name, Rui, given to him by baseball-loving grandfather, translates to “base” in Japanese. Hachimura jokes that he switched to basketball because no one could catch his fastball. A late growth spurt that stretched him to 6-foot-8 ensured that Hachimura would play hoops for good.


Nick Willis’ Key to Longevity, Olympic Medals and Remarkable Career Thus Far

Citius Mag, Chris Chavez from

“Love what you do. What I love the most about running is not the racing. It’s not the workouts. It’s getting out onto a trail and discovering new places to run with people. The beauty of being a distance runner is that I get to do that for 90% of my training. The rest is just the top. Find what you love to do and it will be easier to go for much longer as well. Sure, there are the physical components but ultimately luck has a lot to play. I listen to some podcast with Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki talking about it. They had more luck than Yao Ming. He had to retire at 26. They were able to keep going. They loved the process. Deep down, I love running and it just so happens that running gets me fit. I have the genes to be able to turn that fitness into being able to perform at a pretty high level.”


Winnipeg hockey player mulls chance at Olympics after four years at U.S. college

Winnipeg Free Press, Mike Sawatzky from

… the national team also beckons — she’s on a short list of 16 defencemen being considered for the 2022 Canadian Olympic team. The demise of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League in 2019 will limit the options of many elite players graduating from college, including Tabin.

Without a domestic league, [Kati] Tabin is considering two main options. She may join a club team in Sweden or relocate to Montreal, where former national team head coach Danièle Sauvageau has set up a training base for players affiliated with the national team program.


Major Challenge When Training a Team of Professional Athletes

Professional Baseball Strength & Conditioning Coaches Society, Joe Kessler from

One challenge that I face when working with elite athletes is balancing their fundamental skill work with their training. Our focus is ultimately on them becoming better baseball players and what they do in the weight room must support their on-field efforts. Sometimes this means placing an emphasis on rest and recovery, over pushing through workouts.

During my 20 years in professional baseball, I have seen a lot of players who didn’t enjoy working out workout, but had successful careers. On the flip side, I have also worked with a number of players who enjoyed working out, but were never able to fully transfer all that work to the field and have long, successful careers.

The bottom line when working with each of these groups is that our goal as strength and conditioning coaches is to get them in shape to perform the volume of skill work needed to achieve their true potential on the field and become the best baseball players that they can be.


Is direct-to-consumer sport the future?

Deltatre, Ben Tobin from

As an increasing number of sports organizations and federations introduce a direct-to-consumer service, we explore why this is happening – and what is vital for the industry to consider


Body work: Russia’s ‘biohackers’ push boundaries

France 24 from

Gripping a scalpel, Vladislav Zaitsev makes an incision in the fold of skin between his client’s thumb and index finger and pushes in a small glass cylinder.

Alexei Rautkin, a 24-year-old programmer in a hoodie, is having a chip inserted in his hand so he can open the door to his office without swiping a card.

“It’s something I decided a long time ago,” he says.


Can Wearables Keep Up with Us?

npj Digital Medicine, Behind the Paper, Brinnae Bent and Jessilyn Dunn from

Wearable technology has the potential to transform healthcare and research through accessible, continuous, and longitudinal health monitoring. The coming ubiquity of wearable technology will particularly provide a unique opportunity to revolutionize health care in communities with traditionally limited healthcare access. However, the accuracy of wearable technologies has been a hotly debated topic both in research and in popular culture. As wearable technologies are increasingly being used for clinical research and healthcare, it is critical to understand their accuracy and determine how measurement errors may affect research conclusions and impact healthcare decision-making. … In this study, we tested optical heart rate sensors on six of the most popular devices on the market for both consumers (Apple Watch, Fitbit, Garmin, XiaoMi Miband) and for research (Empatica E4, Biovotion Everion) against the clinical reference standard for monitoring heart rate, the electrocardiogram (ECG). We tested the devices on a population that was roughly evenly distributed across all skin tones according to the Fitzpatrick skin tone scale. Study participants performed a variety of activities of daily living, including rest, walking, and typing on a keyboard, as shown in the top of Figure 1.


Medical monitoring program launches for NCAA student-athletes

NCAA from

A medical monitoring program for NCAA student-athletes who are a part of the settlement class in several consolidated concussion-related class actions launched Feb. 18.

The settlement went into effect Nov. 18 and fully resolved the class-action litigation called In Re: National Collegiate Athletic Association Student-Athlete Concussion Injury Litigation. The NCAA and its insurers have contributed $70 million toward the funding of the program.

The program is available for those NCAA student-athletes who played an NCAA sport at a member school on or before July 15, 2016, and who did not opt out of participation.


A widely distributed metalloenzyme class enables gut microbial metabolism of host- and diet-derived catechols | eLife

eLIfe, Emily P Balskus et al. from

Catechol dehydroxylation is a central chemical transformation in the gut microbial metabolism of plant- and host-derived small molecules. However, the molecular basis for this transformation and its distribution among gut microorganisms are poorly understood. Here, we characterize a molybdenum-dependent enzyme from the human gut bacterium Eggerthella lenta that dehydroxylates catecholamine neurotransmitters. Our findings suggest that this activity enables E. lenta to use dopamine as an electron acceptor. We also identify candidate dehydroxylases that metabolize additional host- and plant-derived catechols. These dehydroxylases belong to a distinct group of largely uncharacterized molybdenum-dependent enzymes that likely mediate primary and secondary metabolism in multiple environments. Finally, we observe catechol dehydroxylation in the gut microbiotas of diverse mammals, confirming the presence of this chemistry in habitats beyond the human gut. These results suggest that the chemical strategies that mediate metabolism and interactions in the human gut are relevant to a broad range of species and habitats. [full text]


All the ways MLB teams could use new 26th man on the roster

ESPN MLB, David Schoenfield from

… The most intriguing MLB rule change, however, is the change from a 25-man roster through Aug. 31 to 26 players. I’ve long advocated for a change in roster size, an acknowledgement that pitcher usage — and the number of pitchers rostered — has changed dramatically in the last two-plus decades.

For example, in 1977, six teams maxed out at 13 pitchers used the entire season. In 1978, no team used more than 18 pitchers. In 2019, 20 teams used at least 30 different pitchers with the Mariners maxing out at 42. The Cardinals used the fewest with 23. The days of the nine-man staff are ancient history and even 11-man pitching staffs almost feel like another generation ago.


NBA players’ union votes to support formation of G-League union

NBC Sports, Pro Basketball Talk, Kurt Helin from

Better pay. Better working conditions. Not to be treated as disposable parts by their employers.

The players in the G-League want the same thing out of a union that auto workers, teachers, and (most obviously) NBA players do. As had been expected (talks had been going on for a while), on Monday the National Basketball Players Association (the NBA players’ union) voted to support the formation of a G-League union.


Sacking managers often doesn’t work – just look at the Premier League

The Guardian, Eni Aluko from

… I know if I was in a team who got spanked 9-0 there would be some serious conversations over the following days. I’m sure the coaching staff must have been expecting the phone to ring that night, and someone to break the bad news they were losing their jobs. In the meantime they had to plan what they were going to say to the players the next day, what the next training session was going to be. Perhaps the only way to go from there was up, but they still had to make it happen. This is where a manager really earns his money: changing tactics, rebuilding confidence, making sure the atmosphere is good and the work ethic is strong.


Data-Driven Cultures Start at the Top

Harvard Business Review, Sheri L. Feinzig and Nigel Guenole from

… Companies that excel with analytics have more than access to great data and technology. These companies recognize that success with analytics also requires an analytical mindset among its executives and an analytical culture in the business. In other words, it’s critical to bring the people along with the technology. There are two easy steps firms can take to do this.

  • Ensure That Executives Have Strong Analytics Capabilities
  • Develop Routines That Support Analytical Thinking

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