Applied Sports Science newsletter – March 3, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for March 3, 2020


Pascal Siakam’s ‘Poetic’ Rise Is Guided By His Family

NBA, Katie Heindl from

… This year’s 69th All-Star Weekend in Chicago was the first that Pascal Siakam had participated in, or even gone to. “He always said he will go when he’s actually invited to something,” Christian said. There was no doubt of that this year. Siakam was chosen as a starter in the All-Star Game by overwhelming fan vote, his final count second only to the East’s leader and eventual Team Captain, Giannis Antetokounmpo. He was also invited to participate in the Skills Challenge, though P Skills would slip to second place against Bam Adebayo, whose family was seated in the row behind the Siakams and, once the nerves of the semi-final round settled, celebrated Adebayo’s win with them.

The weekend was filled with moments like that for the Siakam family. Celebration, some networking and “putting names to faces” as James recalled, as well as taking some downtime for family dinners to commemorate the occasion. It was the first time the family had been together in the same place since a much more somber moment this past summer, when Siakam returned to Cameroon for the first time since he left at 18, to visit his father’s grave.

It’s an absence that is keenly felt by the family. Siakam struggled through tears, a mixture of joy and grief tangled on his face when his All-Star spot was announced, and admitted it’s impossible for him to celebrate big moments without acknowledging the bigger presence missing.


“Gio Reyna’s growth factor is exponentially greater than expected” – USMNT general manager Brian McBride

Bundesliga Official Website from

what the Bundesliga offers young American soccer players: “There are different things the Bundesliga provides. Certainly day-to-day training is at a higher level, the competition is at a higher level – that’s a benefit for our players. We can get players in the European conditions, where they’re competing against top-level players day in, day out – it’s only going to benefit the players and our national-team programmes. When young Americans come to Europe, there are some many things they can gain. The Bundesliga certainly gives them that, and one of those things is a different setting. You’re put under pressure most days. On top of that, there’s a growth that happens when you go through a change – a change of language, a change of setting, being put in an uncomfortable position. If you can get through those moments, it makes you a stronger player, it makes you a stronger person.”


NFL combine winners, losers: Isaiah Simmons stands alone among top performers

USA Today Sports,Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz from

… While the NFL draft’s evaluation stage in Indianapolis tends to feature a number of breakout performers, as well as players whose outings leave something to be desired, the event is still only one piece of teams’ scouting process. And with testing and on-field workouts often less important than information gleaned in interviews and medical evaluations, the full picture of the combine’s impact on the NFL draft can remain a mystery well after the final pick is in.

But while the impact of their performances might be hard to determine, several prospects this year distinguished themselves from their peers — for better or worse.

Here is our look at the biggest winners and losers of this year’s NFL scouting combine


Buster Posey Trying To Reclaim Power In Rebound Season With San Francisco Giants

Forbes, Barry M. Bloom from

… “It’s always nice to see results,” Posey said. “It gives me a chance to trust in the work that I’m doing. I’ve been working hard in BP (batting practice). It’s nice to see the ball jump off the bat like that.”

Coming off right hip surgery near the end of the 2018 season, the right-handed hitter had lost his power. Last year, he hit seven homers, drove in 38 runs, had an .688 OPS and 84 OPS-plus. The latter was most alarming considering the Major League average is 100.

To measure the depths of how bad Posey had sunk post-surgery, that OPS-plus was 44 points below his 11-season career mark of 128.


Zion Williamson is already one of the NBA’s most dangerous players on the offensive glass

ESPN NBA, Andrew Lopez from

… “I think I’ll credit it to my second jump,” Williamson said. “I’ll miss a shot, and I’m thinking, ‘I’ll try to get this rebound,’ and I’ll actually get it, so I’ll try to go back up quick. … Even when I think I’m gonna make [the shot], I still kinda get in my second jump.”

Williamson’s status as an athletic marvel is well established. When he was in high school, he went through a series of tests at P3 Applied Sports Science, and the company’s founder, Dr. Marcus Elliott, told ESPN’s Baxter Holmes that Williamson had “the highest peak force of any athlete we’ve ever assessed.”

That athletic ability is translating to measurable production on the court. Williamson has picked up 22 offensive rebounds just off his own shots; that’s 24.4% of his misses going back into his hands. In total, 68.4% of Williamson’s shots end up either in the basket or back in his hands.


Daylight Saving Time: 4 Tips to Help Your Body Adjust

Cleveland Clinic, health essentials from

… That hour of sleep that’s lost or gained can leave you feeling groggy and irritable. It can also be dangerous. Studies have found that both heart attacks and fatal car accidents increase after the spring shift to Daylight Saving Time.

“In a nation that is already sleep deprived, losing an extra hour can make a huge impact,” says sleep specialist Harneet Walia, MD.

Adjusting to the time change is different for everyone. Some people adjust in a few days; for others, it takes more time.


America’s Marathon Weekend : Science of the Marathon

Twitter, Alex Hutchinson, YouTube, Atlanta Track Club from

Best thing from Marathon Trials so far: Amby Burfoot (@exerscience
) interviewing @jwardy21
and @DrMJoyner
on the science of the marathon. [video, 39:47]


Navigating the potential pitfalls of tracking college athletes

University of Washington, UW News from

Fitness trackers like Fitbit and Garmin watches make it easy for anyone to collect data about health and performance.

Now college athletic programs are moving toward implementing more data-driven trackers — devices or apps that can monitor students’ heart rates, sleep or even class attendance — into their own programs to help keep their athletes as competitive and healthy as possible.

Researchers at the University of Washington were concerned that this shift toward more data collection might encroach on college athletes’ autonomy. The team interviewed 22 athletes and staff members from three college athletics programs to see what data they collect and how they use it. The researchers highlighted potential tensions that might arise and made suggestions for increasing transparency to help implement tracking systems in a way that supports both athletes and staff. The team presented these findings Jan. 6 at the ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work in Florida.


The pros and cons of tracking college athletes’ health

KUOW (Seattle), Joshua McNichols from

… Some college coaches and their staff of training specialists would like access to that rich source of data, University of Washington researcher Samantha Kolovson has found. She said data from wearables is much better than what coaches get by leaning against a locker and asking an athlete “How’d you sleep last night?”

Kolovson said those sorts of informal locker room conversations help coaches estimate a team’s overall health, which informs gut decisions they make to increase the team’s chance of winning. But with so many fitness trackers out there now, coaches see an opportunity to make more decisions based on data.

Student athletes are prone to present themselves to coaches and trainers in ways that aren’t entirely accurate, Kolovson said.


International Olympic Committee consensus statement: methods for recording and reporting of epidemiological data on injury and illness in sport 2020 (including STROBE Extension for Sport Injury and Illness Surveillance (STROBE-SIIS))

Britsh Journal of Sports Medicine from

Injury and illness surveillance, and epidemiological studies, are fundamental elements of concerted efforts to protect the health of the athlete. To encourage consistency in the definitions and methodology used, and to enable data across studies to be compared, research groups have published 11 sport-specific or setting-specific consensus statements on sports injury (and, eventually, illness) epidemiology to date. Our objective was to further strengthen consistency in data collection, injury definitions and research reporting through an updated set of recommendations for sports injury and illness studies, including a new Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (STROBE) checklist extension. The IOC invited a working group of international experts to review relevant literature and provide recommendations. The procedure included an open online survey, several stages of text drafting and consultation by working groups and a 3-day consensus meeting in October 2019. This statement includes recommendations for data collection and research reporting covering key components: defining and classifying health problems; severity of health problems; capturing and reporting athlete exposure; expressing risk; burden of health problems; study population characteristics and data collection methods. Based on these, we also developed a new reporting guideline as a STROBE Extension—the STROBE Sports Injury and Illness Surveillance (STROBE-SIIS). The IOC encourages ongoing in- and out-of-competition surveillance programmes and studies to describe injury and illness trends and patterns, understand their causes and develop measures to protect the health of the athlete. Implementation of the methods outlined in this statement will advance consistency in data collection and research reporting. [full text]


Prevention methods in the spotlight as ACL toll rises

AFLW, Jourdan Canil from

ACL injury prevention methods have again come into the spotlight following suspected long-term injuries to St Kilda’s Tarni White and Collingwood’s Ash Brazill.

If the bleak scenarios are confirmed for Brazill and White, that will take the AFL Women’s ACL injury count to 11 players across the course of the pre-season and the 2020 NAB AFL Women’s competition.

This could be White’s second ACL injury, after suffering one previously in U18’s football.


Cold start: MLS keeps tweaking its calendar

US Soccer Players, Charles Boehm from

Major League Soccer’s 25th season opens at 13 stadiums across the continent this weekend. Are you tired of waiting for the 2020 campaign to begin, or are you not quite sure how it’s already arrived?

Fans have justification for both states of mind. MLS is kicking off earlier than it ever has, a week ahead of last year’s opening and some six weeks deeper into North American winter than its inaugural season in 1996. Conversely, it’s been many years since everyone had to wait this long for the action to return. With the 2019 schedule shortened by a month, MLS Cup happened 16 weeks ago. Teams that missed the playoffs haven’t played a competitive game since October 6.

Thanks in large part to the league’s enormous geographic and climatic diversity, expect a wide array of conditions and quality levels on opening weekend.


NFL Scouting Combine Notebook: Is Henry Ruggs Too Fast for His Own Good?

Bleacher Report, Mike Tanier from

Thursday night at the NFL Scouting Combine provided plenty of jaw-dropping moments, including one of the fastest 40-yard dashes in event history: a 4.28-second sprint by Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs III.

But could Ruggs actually be too fast? It may sound like a tinfoil hat theory, but receivers who run sub-4.3-second 40-yard dashes often have disappointing careers. Today’s Combine Notebook explores whether Ruggs has what it takes to buck that trend.


MLB rule changes imminent in wake of Astros scandal

Sports Illustrated, Tom Verducci from

MLB would like to keep front office staffers out of the clubhouse, limiting access during games to players, coaches, interpreters and trainers.


Speed Score 2020

Football Outsiders, Bryan Knowles from

After a one-year blip of poor performances, the running backs showed back up to the 2020 NFL combine.

Last year’s running back class ended up disappointing in Indianapolis. The consensus top pick, Josh Jacobs, opted not to run. The big names that did run put up disappointing times. And, for the first time since 2014, no one topped a Speed Score of 115.0, as most of the backs ended up in much of a muchness. There was no Saquon Barkley to wow us, in other words.

This year, however, we had a pair of highly touted backs back up their hype on the track. For the first time since 2011, two different backs topped a 117.0 Speed Score. The duo of Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and Boston College’s A.J. Dillon, two of the three heaviest backs at the combine, turned heads with their 40-yard dash times. With two of the 25 best Speed Scores we’ve ever recorded, Taylor and Dillon stole the spotlight in prime time.


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