Applied Sports Science newsletter – March 2, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for March 2, 2020


How Abdi Abdirahman Trained to Make the 2020 Olympic Marathon Team

PodiumRunner, Hannah Borenstein from

… Somali-born friends training in Ethiopia and preparing to make their respective Olympic teams—U.K.’s Mo Farah, Belgium’s Bashir Abdi, Netherlands’ Mohamed Ali, Sweden’s Mustefa Mohamed, and fellow U.S. contender Ahmed Osman—view Abdirahman as a role model, legend, and trailblazer, but they also joke about him being “an old man.” His friends often make fun of his slow gait, “like he’s run so many miles he’s forgotten how to walk.”

Indeed, it’s difficult to fathom how many miles his long, lean, seemingly endless legs rested atop a sofa, have run. But Abdirahman does not think too much about his age; nor does he seem to be too concerned with numerical statistics generally.

“I’m not ashamed to say I’m 43 years old,” he says. “I feel good, I recover well. And it’s all in your mind too. I still believe I can compete at a high level and I get a lot of motivation from myself.”


How workout warrior Mike Mamula changed the future of the NFL combine in 1995

ESPN NFL, David M. Hale from

The man who changed the NFL combine forever celebrated arguably the greatest workout performance in league history by taking a trip to the mall.

This was 1995, when the mall was still a pillar of the cultural zeitgeist, and Mike Mamula was at the peak of his football stardom. Believe it or not, this was a time before round-the-clock coverage of the combine and months of mock drafts, and Mamula had a novel approach to the whole thing. He took it seriously.

Mamula was one of the first players to train specifically for the combine, and he dominated virtually every drill. His numbers — a 38.5-inch vertical, 26 reps of 225 on the bench press, a Wonderlic score of 49, which still ranks as the second-best in history — were off the charts for a defensive lineman. But the performance that really stood out was the 40-yard dash, and Mamula knew he would kill it.


NBA Players Share Their Warm Up and Recovery Tips

askmen, Mackenzie Shand from

… we checked in with some of our favorite NBA athletes to discover the stretches, recovery tools and playlists they’ve come to rely on to pump up and cool down for workouts and games alike.


Twins strength coach Andrea Hayden blazes her own path

Duluth News Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Betsy Helfand from

Andrea Hayden and Ian Kadish were deep into a job interview early last February. It was going about as smoothly as possible, but nearly an hour in, Kadish had yet to address the big question on Hayden’s mind.

Kadish, the Twins’ director of strength and conditioning, had been looking for a “rock star” strength coach to join his staff. Forty five minutes into their conversation, Kadish looked up at the time. Conversation had been flowing easily, and he had no clue they had been on the phone that long. He could tell Hayden was well-spoken and knowledgeable. She had come highly recommended, and he knew he had found what he had been looking for.

Hayden was sitting on the other end of the line. All but one of the questions had been asked and answered. Written on a note in front of her, she had jotted down, “Female?”

Kadish hadn’t brought it up, but Hayden felt like she needed to.


Sources: Alabama has their new strength coach

FootballScoop, Scott Roussel from

Sources tell FootballScoop Indiana director of athletic performance David Ballou has accepted Nick Saban’s offer to be the new strength coach for Alabama football.



ESPN NFL, Matt Bowen and Dylan Coulter from

Static throws, scripted routes, antiquated movements — the quarterback workout at the NFL combine is outdated. It doesn’t simulate the modern passer in today’s game. Let’s mix things up and give NFL scouts five new drills with which to evaluate quarterback prospects throwing from multiple platforms — and on the move.


Tokyo 2020 announce winners of Open Innovation Challenge competition

Inside the Games, Michael Pavitt from

Tokyo 2020 have confirmed HACKist teamFFF as the winners of their Open Innovation Challenge technology competition.

The challenge was launched in September as a technology competition aimed at creating an innovative spectator event and bids to encourage people to get involved in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The competition was co-sponsored by Alibaba Cloud and Intel, International Olympic Committee (IOC) and The Olympic Partners (TOP).

HACKist teamFFF were awarded the gold medal prize after their team developed a mobile application which interacts with spectators’ portable fans during events.


VIDEO/PHOTOS: Georgia Tech Completes Second-Annual Sports Innovation Challenge

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, Athletics from

… A total of 85 participants (mainly Georgia Tech students) spanning 20 teams participated in this year’s Georgia Tech Sports Innovation Challenge. Projects were judged by a panel that included Turner Sports senior vice president for data strategy and insights Scott Doyne, AMB Sports & Entertainment vice president for technology, data and analytics Karl Pierburg, NOW Corp co-founder and president Lara Hodgson and Georgia Tech director of athletics Todd Stansbury.

The winning team of Georgia Tech students Beau Martin, Leon Price and Peter Oliveira Soens chose Challenge No. 3 (swimming “Power Tower”), developing the “Power Tracker,” a device that can automate, record, analyze and communicate data back to swimmers and coaches to help swimmers maintain efficiency and body position. The team will work with Georgia Tech swimming and diving in the future to further deveop the product.


London is one of the #sportstech hotspots in the world. @jalexzurita from @SportTechHub London is talking at #SmashLahti.

Twitter, Movesense from

Great co-op opportunities between UK and FIN companies and cities to innovate in how to make people more active! Plenty of ideas for Movesense sensor use too.


Tech company Sparta Science combats NFL injuries with AI

CNBC, Jabari Young from

In a data-driven world, technology companies are playing a vital role for the National Football League especially at the Scouting Combine.

One of those companies, Sparta Science, will finish its fourth year collecting data from players for the medical assessment segment of testing at the NFL’s top pre-draft event in Indianapolis.

The company, founded by Dr. Phil Wagner, uses equipment and software to test a player’s movement, which assists in identifying areas of muscle overload. But most importantly, the data also has the capability of predicting future injury risks.

“It speaks to the new era we’re in right now,” Wagner told CNBC in an interview. “You get a granular device and then leverage artificial intelligence – machine learning – to store and make sense of as much as you can stuff in the cloud.”


Unique Sensor Methods for Improved Health and Safety

Machine Design, Steve Taranovich from

MEMS and sensors have entered the mainstream with health and safety apps, enhanced by improved calibration as well as alignment, integration, deep learning, and more functionality, leading to some incredible acccuracy and performance.


Sweat Sensor Detects Stress Levels; May Find Use in Space Exploration

Caltech, News from

… Wei Gao, assistant professor of medical engineering at Caltech, has produced a wireless sweat sensor that can accurately detect levels of cortisol, a natural compound that is commonly thought of as the body’s stress hormone. In a new paper appearing in the journal Matter, Gao and his fellow researchers show how they designed and made the mass-producible device and how it works, and demonstrate that it is effective at detecting cortisol levels in near real time.

The development of an inexpensive and accurate device for measuring cortisol could allow for more widespread and easier monitoring of stress but also of other conditions including anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression—all of which are correlated with changes in cortisol levels.


Ahead of the curve in the evolution of human feet

Nature, News and Views, Glen A. Lichtwark & Luke A. Kelly from

The longitudinal arch has long been considered a crucial structure that provides stiffness to the human foot. Now the transverse arch is stepping into the spotlight, with a proposed central role in the evolution of human foot stiffness.


The Innovation/Execution Spectrum

Jacob Kaplan-Moss from

Innovation challenges are ones where you’re trying to solve truly novel problems. You’re trying to building something that has never existed before (e.g. self-driving cars). Or perhaps you’re doing something at a scale that’s unprecedented. Or you’re working on problems that themself haven’t existed before (e.g., climate change).These are thorny problems: there are many “unknown unknowns”. The destination may be clear but that path really isn’t. It may even be unclear that it’s possible to solve the problem you’re tackling.

When your challenge is execution the path is clear. The hard part is executing effectively. The problem is well-known, and there are likely existing solutions. You’ve obviously got some novel spin — usually a cheaper/faster/more efficient solution. Or maybe you’re bringing a known solution into a novel domain.


Finding the next great QB remains the ultimate NFL challenge

Los Angeles Times, Sam Farmer from

The separation of a receiver and defender down to the inch. The spin rate and trajectory of the football. A passer’s career rating when throwing to a specific spot on the field. The NFL tracks and collects all of that data.

What football has yet to figure out is perhaps the most important question when it comes to winning and losing: Which young quarterbacks are bound for success?

All the statistics and body metrics, interviews and personality tests still cannot fully paint a picture of a player lined up in the most complex position in sports, yet teams still invest tens of millions of dollars in hopes they have found The One.

It’s not a blind stab; teams know what they like when they see it. But it’s not an exact science, either.


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