Applied Sports Science newsletter – March 17, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for March 17, 2020


Ashleigh Johnson hopes to draw more black women to aquatics

Los Angeles Times, Helene Elliott from

Ashleigh Johnson and her four siblings were usually the only African Americans in the pool when they began swimming and playing water polo in Miami. She never thought much about it because that was the case at her prep school, Ransom Everglades, and in many of her other experiences.

Not until Johnson won a place in the U.S. water polo national development program and her brothers and sister were no longer beside her did she feel she stood out for something besides her goalkeeping skills.

“It wasn’t just being different, it was being black in a predominantly white space, and it was just such a new experience for me generally,” she says. “It was a new feeling for me then and in college, and even now I struggle with my identity, like understanding what it means to be a leader in this sport and be someone who’s kind of trailblazing in my own way.”


Sources: NBA players won’t be subject to drug testing during coronavirus hiatus

Yahoo Sports, Chris Haynes from

The NBA and the National Basketball Players Association have reached an agreement to not subject players to drug testing during the hiatus caused by the coronavirus, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Players typically undergo “six random, unannounced urine drug tests during each season and off-season,” as stated in Article XXXIII of the collective bargaining agreement.

This rare agreement is only temporary, sources said.


MLB allowing players to go home after canceling spring training


Major League Baseball is allowing players to go home, announcing its decision a day after canceling the rest of the spring training schedule and postponing Opening Day by at least two weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak.

After a meeting in Arizona on Friday that included baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, union head Tony Clark and their top aides, players were told they could remain at spring training, report to the team’s home city or go to their own homes. The league also announced it was suspending spring training camps.


NHL allowing players to self-isolate anywhere

ESPN NHL, Emily Kaplan from

The NHL has told its players they are allowed to leave their NHL cities as long as they self-isolate in their new location until at least March 27.

That’s a reversal from the NHL’s initial directive, which asked players to stay in their home NHL cities as the league sorted out what to do with its paused season. According to a source, the change in policy came following the recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday night that organizers cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States for eight weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus.


Biobanding: Why size shouldn’t matter in youth sport – BBC News

BBC News, Steve Humphrey from

We all grow up at different rates and when it comes to sport sometimes hugely talented late-developers can get left on the sidelines.

Premier League football teams, AFC Bournemouth and Southampton FC, are working with the University of Bath to try to prevent that. [video, pre-roll + 2:04]


Katie Drabot, NCAA Swimmers Trying To Find Places to Train, Sleep After Campuses Close

Swimming World, Dan D'Addona from

… Michigan’s Miranda Tucker had to find multiple pools to swim in this week as she continued her training. That is the case for most college swimmers now.

Campus pools are closed and other aquatic facilities are starting to close or limit availability to try not to spread the virus.


AIS emerges as coronavirus saviour for Olympic athletes

The Canberra Times (AU), Chris Dutton from

The under pressure Australian Institute of Sport could become a refuge for Olympic Games athletes as they search for training venues to help them best avoid coronavirus.

The Canberra Times can reveal several sports have reached out to officials in the past two days to determine whether facilities will be available to Tokyo hopefuls as coronavirus causes chaos in world sport.

The government’s advice on Friday to avoid large public gatherings of 500 people or more from Monday is creating shockwaves being felt by every sport.


Meet England’s World Cup mindset gurus

Business Leader News (UK), Barney Cotton from

Business Leader recently sat down with Ben Williams and Antony Thompson – the Royal-Marines-turned-mindset-gurus – to discuss their work with some of the biggest names in the business world, such as HSBC, Deutsche Bank, Volkswagen, Manchester United, and Gareth Southgate’s England World Cup team, and how they are using military methods to keep teams performing at the top level.


Do Athlete Monitoring Tools Improve a Coach’s Understanding of Performance Change? – PubMed – NCBI

International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance from


To assess a coach’s subjective assessment of their athletes’ performances and whether the use of athlete-monitoring tools could improve on the coach’s prediction to identify performance changes.

Eight highly trained swimmers (7 male and 1 female, age 21.6 [2.0] y) recorded perceived fatigue, total quality recovery, and heart-rate variability over a 9-month period. Prior to each race of the swimmers’ main 2 events, the coach (n = 1) was presented with their previous race results and asked to predict their race time. All race results (n = 93) with aligning coach’s predictions were recorded and classified as a dichotomous outcome (0 = no change; 1 = performance decrement or improvement [change +/- > or < smallest meaningful change]). A generalized estimating equation was used to assess the coach's accuracy and the contribution of monitoring variables to the model fit. The probability from generalized estimating equation models was assessed with receiver operating characteristic curves to identify the model's accuracy from the area under the curve analysis. RESULTS:

The coach’s predictions had the highest diagnostic accuracy to identify both decrements (area under the curve: 0.93; 95% confidence interval, 0.88-0.99) and improvements (area under the curve: 0.89; 95% confidence interval, 0.83-0.96) in performance.

These findings highlight the high accuracy of a coach’s subjective assessment of performance. Furthermore, the findings provide a future benchmark for athlete-monitoring systems to be able to improve on a coach’s existing understanding of swimming performance.


Navigating the New Landscape of AI Platforms

Harvard Business Review, Manu Sharma from

What only insiders generally know is that data scientists, once hired, spend more time building and maintaining the tools for AI systems than they do building the systems themselves. A recent survey of 500 companies by the firm Algorithmia found that expensive teams spend less than a quarter of their time training and iterating machine-learning models, which is their primary job function.

Now, though, new tools are emerging to ease the entry into this era of technological innovation. Unified platforms that bring the work of collecting, labelling and feeding data into supervised learning models, or that help build the models themselves, promise to standardize workflows in the way that Salesforce and Hubspot have for managing customer relationships. Some of these platforms automate complex tasks using integrated machine-learning algorithms, making the work easier still. This frees up data scientists to spend time building the actual structures they were hired to create, and puts AI within reach of even small- and medium-sized companies, like Seattle Sports Science.

Frustrated that its data science team was spinning its wheels, Seattle Sports Science’s AI architect John Milton finally found a commercial solution that did the job. “I wish I had realized that we needed those tools,” said Milton. He hadn’t factored the infrastructure into their original budget and having to go back to senior management and ask for it wasn’t a pleasant experience for anyone.


The Red Recovery Policy (Work From Home)

WHOOP, Platform, Will Ahmed from

… The Sleep Bonus: Science also tells us that getting more sleep boosts your immune system1. We know that consistent sleep is a critical driver of health and readiness to perform in work and in life. We also know that “sleep need” varies by person and by day, and our technology measures both sleep need and actual sleep better than any other wearable device2. So in the spirit of making our team healthier with WHOOP, we are rewarding our employees $100 per month when they average 85% of their personal sleep need or more. It’s one thing to say get more sleep, but it’s another thing to actually pay your team to get more sleep. Team members follow their progress together on a team leaderboard. I encourage other CEOs and leaders to think about adopting a similar policy for their companies.


New mHealth Wearable Sensor Boosts Flexibility, Durability

mHealth Intelligence, Samantha McGrail from

Engineers at the University of Waterloo recently developed a durable, flexible sensor for mHealth wearable devices to monitor everything from vital signs to athletic performance.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of British Columbia, utilized 3D printing and nanotechnology to combine silicone rubber with layers of graphene, a material for making wristbands or shoe insoles, to create a wearable that fits comfortably to different body shapes of users.

“Silicone gives us the flexibility and durability required for biomonitoring applications, and the added, embedded graphene makes it an effective sensor,” said Ehsan Toyserkani, research director at the Multi-Scale Additive Manufacturing (MSAM) Lab at Waterloo. “It’s all together in a single part.”


Did the market for strength coaches just get reset?

FootballScoop, Zach Barnett from

… The reported $700,000 salary [at Indiana University] would place [Aaron] Wellman third in the country based on 2019 figures, trailing only Iowa’s Chris Doyle and Mariotti. (We don’t yet know what Ballou will earn at Alabama.)

Just like Mel Tucker’s staff salary pool at Michigan State and Allen’s new contract that more than doubles his salary, Wellman’s salary becomes yet another data point illustrating how the Big Ten is separating itself from everyone else in college football except the SEC.


‘Harming‌ ‌the‌ ‌scientific‌ ‌process‌:’ An attempt to correct the sports science literature, part 3

Retraction Watch, Matthew Tenan from

Why is it so difficult to correct the scientific record in sports science? In the first installment in this series of guest posts, Matthew Tenan, a data scientist with a PhD in neuroscience, began the story of how he and some colleagues came to scrutinize a paper. In the second, he explained what happened next. In today’s final installment, he reflects on the editors’ response and what he thinks it means for his field.


#SSAC20 Conference Recap

Sportlogiq from

The 14th Annual MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference took place in Boston Massachusetts last weekend. Aimed at those in sports business and analytics, it once again cemented itself as one of the premier forums in sports.

As in previous years, they showcased new ideas and analytics innovation in football, soccer, hockey, and basketball. New industries that received a deeper look included sports media, general sports business (ticketing, audience retention) and sports betting.

Sportlogiq was present with our very own Data Scientist/Machine Learning researcher Michael Horton, presenting on Learning Feature Representations from Football Tracking. Michael’s research paper was on display, and he presented to an engaged audience on Friday.


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