Applied Sports Science newsletter – June 24, 2020

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


NFL kicker Brett Maher working with Sanford Sports Science Institute

KELO (Sioux Falls, SD), Travis Fossing from

The Sanford Sports Science Institute works with athletes from a variety of sports, including football. NFL kicker Brett Maher is the latest professional athlete to utilize its services.

Brett Maher is busy preparing for his third NFL season.

“What we’re working on this off-season is just being a little more consistent and shrinking that scattergram a little bit and doing what we can to get mentally and physically prepared,” New York Jets kicker Brett Maher said.

MLBPA, owners clear final hurdles; players set to report to camps July 1

ESPN MLB, Jeff Passan from

Major League Baseball will hold Opening Day either July 23 or 24, and players will head to training camps in a week after the league and the union on Tuesday agreed on health and safety protocols that will govern the sport as it attempts to return amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Nearly three months of frustrating and failed economic negotiations ended with the league implementing a 60-game season that will run through Sept. 27 and feature a number of new elements — and the same 10-team playoff structure it has used for almost a decade.

Seattle Sounders’ Brian Schmetzer on balance between safety, support as MLS returns to play, Charles Boehm from

… When play does finally resume, things are expected to run hot and heavy with a busy slate of matches in a compacted period, so Schmetzer plans to lean heavily on the expertise of the Sounders’ top-of-the-line sports science staff to keep his squad fit and fresh. Meanwhile he and his assistants hope their extra tactical work over these past months will help the defending champs hit the ground running.

“As far as us coaches are concerned, it gave us a little break to just fine-tune the game model that we have,” he explained. “We added Joao Paulo [over the winter], who’s a big piece of our team; how does he fit with Gustav [Svensson], how does he fit with Cristian [Roldan]? How are we going to put Nico [Lodeiro] back in the groove? Yeimar Andrade, how does he fit next to Xavier [Arreaga] or Shane O’Neill? So we’ve kind of fine-tuned some things in the bigger picture.”

One twist to exercise could help reset a misaligned body clock — study

Inverse, Synchronized from

If you’re interested in completely reworking the body’s internal clock, you might be intrigued by medicinal fungi with transformative effects. If you’re just looking to tweak it, you may not need to go to such extremes. Research published on Monday suggests that exercise may give the body what it needs to fine-tune an internal clock that’s out of sync — as long as it happens at certain times.

Is the Acute: Chronic Workload Ratio (ACWR) Associated with Risk of Time-Loss Injury in Professional Team Sports? A Systematic Review of Methodology, Variables and Injury Risk in Practical Situations | SpringerLink

Sports Medicine journal from


The acute: chronic workload ratio (ACWR) is an index of the acute workload relative to the cumulative chronic workloads. The monitoring of physical workloads using the ACWR has emerged and been hypothesized as a useful tool for coaches and athletes to optimize performance while aiming to reduce the risk of potentially preventable load-driven injuries.

Our goal was to describe characteristics of the ACWR and investigate the association of the ACWR with the risk of time-loss injuries in adult elite team sport athletes.
Data sources

PubMed, EMBASE and grey literature databases; inception to May 2019.
Eligibility criteria

Longitudinal studies that assess the relationship of the ACWR and time-loss injury risk in adult professional or elite team sports.

We summarized the population characteristics, workload metrics and ACWR calculation methods. For each workload metric, we plotted the risk estimates for the ACWR in isolation, or when combined with chronic workloads. Methodological quality was assessed using a modified version of the Downs and Black scale.

Twenty studies comprising 2375 injuries from 1234 athletes (all males and mean age of 24 years) from different sports were included. Internal (65%) and external loads (70%) were collected in more than half of the studies and the session-rating of perceived exertion and total distance were the most commonly collected metrics. The ACWR was commonly calculated using the coupled method (95%), 1:4 weekly blocks (95%) and subsequent week injury lag (80%). There were 14 different binning methods with almost none of the studies using the same binning categories.

The majority of studies suggest that athletes are at greater risk of sustaining a time-loss injury when the ACWR is higher relative to a lower or moderate ACWR. The heterogenous methodological approaches not only reflect the wide range of sports studied and the differing demands of these activities, but also limit the strength of recommendations.

The posterior chain: what it is and why it’s important for athletes

220 Triathlon, Matthew Taylor from

The posterior chain encompasses all the muscles on the back of the body, so everything from the trapezius down to the calves, and everything else in between. This includes some of the largest and most powerful muscles in the body, such as the glutes, which are essential for power generation during movements such as jumping, squatting, sprinting, and changing direction.

In our clinic, we often see the posterior chain being neglected, either because of the bias of muscles such as the quadriceps in certain exercises, or for vanity reasons because we don’t look at it in in the mirror the way we might the abdominals, pectorals or biceps!

As a result, many people we see have deficits in their posterior chain that can cause postural issues or compensatory movement patterns, which might materialise as issues in other body parts or joints such as the knees or back further down the line.

The relationship between eccentric hamstring strength and dynamic stability in elite academy footballers

Science and Medicine in Football journal from


Previous research describes dynamic stability and functional strength as key aetiological risk factors associated with lower limb non-contact musculoskeletal injury. Due to the multifactorial nature of injury risk, relationships between the two factors will inform injury management and training design.

A total of 59 elite academy footballers from two English premier league category 1-status academies completed the study. All players completed measures of eccentric hamstring strength and dynamic stability. Relationships between directional stability (Anteroposterior (Ant), Posteromedial (PM) and Posterolateral (PL)) and eccentric strength metrics (PkT, AvT, PkF, AvF and Ɵ) bilaterally were identified for analysis.

Significant correlations were identified bilaterally for functional hamstring strength metrics and PM and PL stability (P ≤. 0.05). No significant relationships were identified between anterior stability and eccentric hamstring strength parameters (P > 0.05).

Eccentric hamstring strength has a positive influence on directional stability through two planes, PM and PL. The lack of influence of eccentric hamstring strength on Ant directional stability could be attributed to increased ACL risk. Careful consideration of the significance of the relationships between eccentric hamstring strength and directional stability must be given when quantifying injury risk in elite academy footballers.

Daily decisions about risk: What to do when there’s no right answer

Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Health Blog, Robert H. Shmerling, MD from

… We all will have to continue to make challenging decisions each day about how to behave in this pandemic, until far more people are immune due to infection or a vaccine, or until we have effective treatments. And that could be many months or even years away.

So, listen to the experts and their recommendations, especially when they change in response to new information about the virus. Spread out your risk if you can: if you go to the grocery store today, put off your haircut to another day — in this way, the “virus dose” may be lower than if you’re out doing multiple errands among other people over a few hours.

Is There Value and Validity for the Use of Return to Sport Test Batteries After Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury and Reconstruction?

Arthroscopy: The Journal of Arthroscopic & Related Surgery from

Is there value and validity for the use of return-to-sport (RTS) test batteries? With regard to RTS testing, there has been marked interest and rapid growth in studies that document RTS criteria after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. A set of criteria or “test-battery” is typically used to “clear” the athlete for RTS. Although most RTS testing is done with aim of assessing safety, the same measurements can be as used to determine the amount of functional capacity regained. It is suggested that RTS test batteries incorporate multiple domains of risk factors. If testing “works,” patients who pass should have a lower risk of reinjury than patients who fail but nonetheless return to sport. More recent studies have attempted to cover a broad range of risk factors, with as many as 15 to 20 RTS tests. This is possibly due to a lack of clear evidence as to what are the most important risk factors for second injury. As a result, few patients pass these combined criteria. Findings from a meta-analysis showed that there is a low rate of passing RTS testing (23%). The findings from this and a second meta-analyses are quite similar, as both showed there was no effect of passing RTS test batteries on overall subsequent anterior cruciate ligament injury. There was a 7% to 9% reduction in risk difference of graft injuries with passing of RTS; however, there was a 4% to 9% risk difference or 176% to 235% increased risk of a contralateral injury with passing of RTS criteria. There remain several problems with RTS test batteries, which include low rates of meeting thresholds, many athletes return without meeting RTS thresholds, evidence for predictive value is limited, small sample sizes in many studies (only 2 studies >100 patients), and many studies don’t document RTS rates. Additional issues include questions as to whether testing should be staged, how to monitor progression of rehabilitation, and should these RTS batteries be tailored to age groups?

With this tool, we can turn basketball practice or any doctors office into a dynamometry lab.

Twitter, John Drazan from

We will use it in our work studying recovery following AT rupture. I am excited to incorporate it into my outeach work to collect large prospective data sets.

Sprint-Up: A new device for sprint and change of direction training in Footballers

Sport Performance & Science Reports from

… Sprint-Up (figure 3) is a device designed to train sprint and changes of direction, providing almost constant mechanical resistance for a distance of 19 meters, while maintaining the biomechanical characteristics of the movement. In addition, it provides 5 levels of resistance from 6 to 30 kg (6-12-18-24-30kg). The cable at its end is connected to a belt that the athlete wears during the exercise. The belt transmits resistance in a barycentric way, without creating constraints, and adapting to the athletes’ movements, allowing them to stop, restart,change direction at will.

MRI test for football players that could detect CTE, developed by Ben-Gurion U. researcher

EurekAlert! Science News, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev from

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries often affecting athletes, can only be diagnosed currently through brain tissue analysis post-mortem. However, in a new study published in Brain, a Journal of Neurology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) researchers present a new test methodology. Using brain imaging techniques and analytical methods, they can determine whether football players have CTE by measuring leakage of the blood-brain barrier.


Barca Innovation Hub, Javier Granda Revilla from

… An adequate rehabilitation programme is essential when trying to shorten as much as possible a player’s downtime because it will also affect the team’s preparation from a tactical perspective. However, the rehabilitation programs described in the scientific literature are limited and absent of practical based experience working in elite football. For this reason, Matt Taberner, researcher at Liverpool John Moores University (Liverpool, United Kingdom) with more than 12 years of experience in the English Premier League, in which he has worked at Aston Villa Football Club (6 years) as Lead Academy Sports Scientist across Youth and Reserve teams, and at Everton Football Club (6 years) as Head of Sports Science, and more recently as Head of Rehabilitation of the club. He proposes the “control-chaos continuum” as an adaptable framework for on-pitch rehabilitation after injury, considering both the quantitative and qualitative aspects of load and gradually imposing greater perceptual and neurocognitive challenges throughout an athlete’s recovery (3).

In these restart plans, are we underestimating the health risk to athletes?

The Boston Globe, Tara Sullivan from

Athletes know about risk. They risk injury every time they play. Kevin Durant knows. Gordon Hayward knows. From the day an athlete takes that first step into any competitive arena, he or she does so with the innate understanding that injury could result.

Risking injury is one thing. But risking illness? That’s a different story.

Yet that’s the risk today’s athletes face, looking at a return to sports amid a pandemic. And the specific health risk hasn’t been discussed nearly enough. For all the curiosity and fascination about logistical details, for all the importance of maintaining competitive integrity while establishing seeding formats or playoff structures, as much as those details need to be worked out before any real discussion of retaking the ice, the court, or the field can happen, the most important consideration has to be the players’ health.

Dr. Anthony Fauci says MLB shouldn’t play too deep into fall

Los Angeles Times, Bill Shaikin from

How long should baseball’s short season extend?

The players say November. The owners say October.

But, if the sole factor is minimizing risk for the novel coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the major leagues would be wise to wrap up the postseason in September.

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