Applied Sports Science newsletter – March 24, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for March 24, 2020


Can the NBA Really WFH?

Bleacher Report, Ric Bucher from

… Most guys also don’t have the discipline, which is going to be doubly tested by these circumstances. Not having team oversight or the latest equipment readily available or a specific restart date could reduce the urgency to stay in game shape for a lot of players, league insiders said.

“You’re usually training for a purpose and a particular start date,” one prominent agent said.

[Anthony] Tolliver hasn’t done any training with a basketball since the hiatus began, but he said he has been diligent about maintaining his strength, flexibility and cardiovascular condition by lifting weights, using his cardio machines and stretching. Developing that discipline early on is what he credits for carving out a 12-year career and earning more than $30 million despite being undrafted after leaving Creighton University in 2007.

“I’m going to treat this like a mini-offseason,” he said. “But I’ve always been a little different. It’s never been about getting in shape for me. I’ve always tried to maintain my fitness. As a shooter, it’s more about needing time to get into a rhythm.”


Derrick Brown Nearly Quit Football To Focus on Basketball. Now He’s an Elite NFL Prospect

STACK, Brandon Hall from

Derrick Brown’s built to destroy.

The 6-foot-5, 318-pound defensive tackle out of Auburn was all but unblockable last season, ravaging his way to unanimous All-American honors. For offensive linemen, scouting reports on Brown read like a horror novel.

“Black hole of a presence on the interior.” “Freight train of a first step.” “Can toss opponents aside like last week’s trash.”

His development into a prized NFL prospect was nearly cut short by his own volition. Brown preferred basketball in his early years, only fully embracing football once he realized his enormous potential.


Blue Jays president says 4 weeks of spring training needed before season

ESPN MLB, Associated Press from

With no sign of when training camps can resume, Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro says he thinks Major League Baseball would need at least a month of workouts and exhibition games before regular-season play can begin.

Opening Day has been postponed until at least mid-May because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Knowing that so many players are not even having any access to throwing at all or hitting at all, but most importantly just throwing, and probably limited access to just training and exercise, it’s hard to imagine we could get ready in less than four weeks,” Shapiro said in a teleconference with Toronto reporters.


A Machine Learning Approach to Assess Injury Risk in Elite Youth Football Players

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise journal from

To assess injury risk in elite-level youth football players based on anthropometric, motor coordination and physical performance measures with a machine learning approach.
A total of 734 players in the U10 to U15 age categories (mean age: 11.7 +/- 1.7 years) from seven Belgian youth academies were prospectively followed during one season. Football exposure and occurring injuries were monitored continuously by the academies’ coaching and medical staff, respectively. Preseason anthropometric measurements (height, weight, and sitting height) were taken and test batteries to assess motor coordination and physical fitness (strength, flexibility, speed, agility, and endurance) were performed. An extreme gradient boosting algorithms (XGBoost) was used to predict injury based on the preseason test results. Subsequently, the same approach was used to classify injuries as either overuse or acute.
During the season, half of the players (n = 368) sustained at least one injury. Of the first occurring injuries, 173 were identified as overuse and 195 as acute injuries. The machine learning algorithm was able to identify the injured players in the hold-out test sample with 85% precision, 85% recall (sensitivity) and 85% accuracy (f1-score). Furthermore, injuries could be classified as overuse or acute with 78% precision, 78% recall and 78% accuracy.
Our machine learning algorithm was able to predict injury and to distinguish overuse from acute injuries with reasonably high accuracy based on preseason measures. Hence, it is a promising approach to assess injury risk among elite-level youth football players. This new knowledge could be applied in the development and improvement of injury risk management strategies, to identify youth players with the highest injury risk.



Barca Innovation Hub, Carlos Lago Peñas from

The profession of a coach is not easy at all. Besides an outstanding knowledge of the gameplay, it is necessary to fully master pedagogical skills to help players learn better and faster. A good coach not only delivers technical instructions, but they must also know how to provide learning for the people they work with. The information that does not reach players adequately is useless information.

We know there are 5 different teaching methods a coach can use in his or her intervention1: giving feedback (providing extra information to the player during and after the task), showing (making a demonstration of how an exercise is to be done), stepping back and reflecting (helping players to find out by themselves the action alternatives and to foresee their possible consequences), giving guidelines (pointing out to the athlete on how to perform a movement or action to be successful), and knowing how to design tasks for the players to work them out (adjusting space, time, number of players, the rules…). Not all of them are equally useful, it depends on the characteristics of the players you train.


Clubs counter coronavirus through individual fitness plans, smartphone group workouts and homework

ESPN FC, Tor-Kristian Karlsen from

… The concept of sticking to an individual training program for a short period is nothing new for professional footballers. Nowadays, high-profile players are more likely to be rigorously sweating it out to a personally developed workout routine during the offseason than sightseeing or sipping cocktails by the pool. This time, though, the break comes at a peak time of activity as the European season would typically reach its conclusion.

In a normal season, April and May are full of the most critical games, those deciding championships, cups and promotion and relegation. With the general feeling across the sport that these issues need to be eventually decided by fulfilling the remaining fixtures to preserve the game’s integrity, players will need to maintain their fitness levels for as long as it takes for this to happen. But ensuring it happens remotely is posing serious challenges to both the performance and fitness staff.

Andrea Azzalin, who currently works as the head of performance for the Ukrainian FA and has held similar positions with clubs like AS Monaco, Leicester City, Fulham and Nantes, understands the challenges his colleagues at club level are facing now.


Why Are People Ignoring Expert Warnings?—Psychological Reactance

Behavioral Scientist, Syon Bhanot from

… Why are people being so cavalier in the face of clear instructions from the nation’s top scientists and public health experts?

Behavioral scientists have long studied the idea of reactance, a concept pioneered by Jack Brehm in 1966. In his words, psychological reactance refers to the idea that when individual freedoms are “reduced or threatened with reduction,” people tend to be “motivationally aroused to regain” those freedoms. That is, when you tell me what to do, a part of me feels compelled to do the opposite.


Neuron-targeted electrical modulation

Science, Kevin J. Otto and Christine E. Schmidt from

Conductive polymers have been widely studied and used for biomedical applications—including as biosensors, neural prostheses, and bioactuators—and for drug delivery and tissue engineering (1). Conductive polymers are organic chains of alternating single and double bonds, which endow the polymers with metal-like semiconductive properties. Exogenous application of electrical stimulation to these polymers can promote cellular activities such as proliferation, adhesion, migration, differentiation, and protein secretion. Because many cells and tissues, particularly neurons, are responsive to electrical fields, conductive polymers are attractive for biological and medical applications. On page 1372 of this issue, Liu et al. (2) report a genetically targeted approach to assemble conductive polymers in neurons. This in turn remodels membrane electrical properties and enables cell type–specific cellular and behavioral modulation, such as control of neuronal firing, as demonstrated in cultures of rat hippocampal neurons, mouse brain slices, human cortical spheroids, and in living Caenorhabditis elegans worms.


Four New Projects Join Movesense Academic Program

Movesense from

Movesense Academic Program supports scientific research projects with top of the line data collecting tools for measuring movement and physiology. The program selects new projects on quarterly basis and equips them with Movesense sensors and Kaasa Data Collector mobile app.

The program has been received with great enthusiasm in the academic world and the number of applications has been a positive surprise to us.

In the first wave in the end of 2019, we invited five projects to the program. In the quarter 1 2020 round, four new research teams will join. The new projects are introduced below.


Mental health screening: severity and cut-off point sensitivity of the Athlete Psychological Strain Questionnaire in male and female elite athletes

BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine journal from

Objectives To examine the sensitivity/specificity of the Athlete Psychological Strain Questionnaire (APSQ) in both male and female elite athletes, and also assess internal consistency and convergent/divergent validity, and determine discriminative validity relative to current injury status.

Methods Data were provided by 1093 elite athletes (males n=1007; females n=84). Scale validity and reliability values were benchmarked against validated measures of general psychological distress and well-being. ROC curve analysis determined a range of optimal severity cut-points.

Results Bias-corrected area under curve (AUC) values supported three APSQ cut-points for moderate (AUC=0.901), high (AUC=0.944) and very high (AUC=0.951) categories. APSQ total score Cronbach coefficients exceeded those observed for the Kessler 10 (K-10). Gender ×injury status interactions were observed for the APSQ total score and K-10, whereby injured female athletes reported higher scores relative to males and non-injured female counterparts.

Conclusion By providing a range of cut-off scores identifying those scoring in the marginal and elevated ranges, the APSQ may better facilitate earlier identification for male and female elite athletes vulnerable to mental health symptoms and developing syndromes. Use of the APSQ may support sports medicine practitioners and allied health professionals to detect early mental ill health manifestations and facilitate timely management and ideally, remediation of symptoms. [full text]


The Role of Nutrition in Peak Performance

Altis from

To maximize the preparation of the elite athlete, a multitude of service providers have to be in place. At the center is always the athlete. Extending out from there, is the coach, the medical team, the science team, and other essential cogs in the support team – including the nutritionist.

This season, we have been excited to add Dr. Marc Bubbs to our staff as our Consultant Nutritionist, who is providing nutritional and supplemental advice to our athlete group.


Science in Sport to embed nutritionists within leading sports teams

Sport Industry Group from

Sports nutrition brand Science in Sport (SiS) has launched a new research and nutrition service which will see nutritionists embedded into the performance department of a number of high profile British teams with a view to elevating athlete performance.

SiS says the new initiative is a ‘world-first service’ and will see members of its Performance Solutions team embedded in the performance staff of Team INEOS Cycling, INEOS TEAM UK, and the England Women’s Football Teams as well as British swimmer Adam Peaty, to undertake research and deliver bespoke solutions to improve performances.

As part of the announcement, bespoke delivery strategies will be designed to meet the needs of different athletes.


NFL details new free-agency procedures, delays offseason activities


The NFL announced special procedures for free agency and postponed the offseason training activities indefinitely on Monday in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a statement, the NFL said that clubs aren’t allowed to bring any free agent “to a club facility or other location to meet with club personnel. Further, club personnel, including members of the club medical staff, may not travel to any location to meet with or conduct a medical examination of a free agent player.”

The statement said that the NFL and NFLPA are developing protocols that will allow prospective teams to review players’ medical records from his previous club(s) and arrange for medical exams in a player’s home city or “another nearby location.”


NBA braces for delayed ’20 draft, reduced pre-draft process

ESPN NBA, Jonathan Givony from

… According to one team executive, there’s been no guidance so far from the league on what a delayed schedule would mean for the draft, though more information could come after the next meeting of the NBA board of governors.

The NBA league office is focused on solving the questions around its core revenue-driving businesses, sources told ESPN. That includes determining whether, when and how to complete the NBA season’s interrupted schedule of regular-season and playoff games — making plans for a pre-draft process that would typically ramp up at about this time of year less of a priority.

“The draft is the last thing on their list,” the executive said. “We saw it in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations in 2016. They never even got to [the draft]. Revenue drivers will come first, and then we’ll see what happens with the draft after all that gets figured out. It might be a while.”


How Many Games Can MLB Realistically Play in 2020?

FanGraphs Baseball, Craig Edwards from

With the announcement last week that MLB would suspend spring training and delay Opening Day by at least two weeks, to say that the season’s future is uncertain would be an understatement. The most optimistic of scenarios — one in which the United States’ response to COVID-19 is suddenly and remarkably better than that of other, similar countries — had major league baseball resuming on April 9. The CDC has now recommended the postponement or cancellation of events with 50 or more people for the next eight weeks, which would prevent even spring training games. Update: MLB has announced further delays with a mid-May start the earliest possible date to begin the season in abiding by CDC guidelines. The two-week delay was merely be the first, with an unknown number of weeks of the season lost. The league’s announcement that spring training facilities would be shuttered, and that many players would be returning home, points to a much longer delay; a second spring training will almost certainly be required to allow players time to ramp back up. Some executives are simply hoping for games at some point in May, per Jon Heyman. We don’t yet know how many games the league will play this season, but we can use potential start dates, with a few October regular season weeks and some summer doubleheaders baked in, and attempt to determine how many games the sport might lose as the country attempts to contain this pandemic.


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