Applied Sports Science newsletter – July 8, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for July 8, 2020


Josh Sargent’s season of learning at Werder Bremen

Bundesliga Official Website from

Werder Bremen striker Josh Sargent has had some highs and lows in his first full season as a Bundesliga regular. But the experience he has gained in a difficult time for his club can only help the United States international for the rest of his career.

You Don’t Know Shelby Houlihan

Women's Running, Erin Strout from

… Everybody copes differently amid a global outbreak of a deadly virus, but even the most talented athletes in the world can relate to the mundane struggles on some level. The upheaval of schedules can take a toll—especially when the plan for peak performance has been in the works for at least four years. Finding a routine without races to train for, practices to attend, or lifting sessions to get to presents challenges.

Houlihan has fallen into late-night video game marathons with her boyfriend, Matthew Centrowitz, who won the 1500-meter gold medal at the 2016 Olympics. It’s a title she covets, by the way—she’s hellbent on having her own one day.

Safe at home? Off-field behavior will be decisive for MLB

Associated Press, Steven Wine from

Reliever Nick Vincent signed last week with the Miami Marlins and settled in for two days of quarantine in his hotel room while awaiting clearance to join workouts.

“That was a little bit different,” he said. “In 48 hours, you’re definitely a little stir-crazy.”

Vincent spent a lot of time watching TV, including the news, which reinforced that it was wise to lay low with the coronavirus crisis worsening in Florida and much of the country.

And as Major League Baseball attempts to salvage the 2020 season, behavior away from the ballpark will help determine the outcome. Just like on the field, success will depend on how many players are safe at home.

Neuromuscular Fatigue in Pitchers Across a Collegiate Baseball Season – PubMed

Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research from

Neuromuscular fatigue in baseball pitchers has become an important aspect of injury risk. It is imperative to understand how fatigue is manifested to enhance resiliency and mitigate injury risk. Secondarily, collecting data on neuromuscular characteristics of baseball pitchers provides a framework to address these concerns. Using the countermovement jump, this study observed neuromuscular performance during the preseason, midseason, and postseason of a collegiate baseball season with college baseball pitchers. No statistically significant changes were noted in any of the main variables at any testing timepoint (p > 0.05). However, several variables, including concentric mean force (ConMF, d = 0.59) and concentric peak force (ConPF, d = 0.59) in addition to eccentric mean force (EccMF, d = 0.54) and eccentric mean power (EccMP, d = -0.66), displayed moderate effects from preseason testing to midseason testing. Furthermore, jump height displayed a large negative effect from preseason to midseason (d = -0.89). Secondarily, descriptive data for both concentric and eccentric variables were also determined from the present findings. There were moderate changes in neuromuscular fatigue in Division I collegiate pitchers across a competitive season and has provided descriptive data for neuromuscular characteristics in collegiate baseball pitchers.

Predicting the timing of the peak of the pubertal growth spurt in elite youth soccer players: evaluation of methods

Annals of Human Biology journal from

Background: Three commonly used non-invasive protocols are implemented to estimate the timing at which PHV most likely occurs. Accurate estimation of circumpubertal years can aid in managing training load of adolescent athletes.

Aim: Three protocols were compared against observed age at PHV: an estimate of 13.8 ± 1.0 years – generic age at PHV (from longitudinal measures); an estimate based on the maturity offset equation, predicted age at PHV ±1.0 year; a window of PHV based on 85 – 96% of predicted adult height at time of observation.

Subjects and methods: A final sample of 23 (from 28) adolescent participants who were selected from the academy of an English Premier League club. Anthropometric measures were collected across five playing seasons; age at PHV was estimated with Super-Imposition by Translation and Rotation (SITAR). The three protocols were compared based on measures at 13.0 years.

Results and Conclusions: An age window based on predicted maturity offset did not improve estimation of PHV compared to generic age method; however, the percentage of predicted adult height window showed improvement in performance shown by the following results. Predicted age at PHV correctly assigned 15 participants (65%) as experiencing PHV, while the percentage height correctly assigned 17 participants (74%). Generic age and predicted age at PHV correctly predicted observed age at PHV for 14 participants (61%), percentage of adult height window correctly predicted 22 participants (96%).

A real-time feedback method to reduce loading rate during running: Effect of combining direct and indirect feedback

Journal of Sports Sciences from

Impact loading plays a key role in the pathophysiology of running-related injuries. Providing real-time feedback may be an effective strategy to reduce impact loading; however, it is currently unclear what an effective training method to help runners achieve a habitual low loading rate is. We subjected 20 healthy non-runners to a structured sequence of direct and indirect biofeedback designed to facilitate broader exploration of neuro-mechanical workspace for potential movement solutions (indirect feedback on cadence and foot-strike angle) and to refine and converge upon an optimal sub-set of that space to match the task goal (direct feedback on loading rate). While indirect biofeedback on foot-strike angle yielded a lower impact load than providing direct biofeedback on loading rate, compared to indirect biofeedback on foot-strike angle, providing direct feedback on loading rate statistically increased (+58%, p = 0.007) the range of goal-relevant solutions participants used to lower their impact loading. Results showed that structured feedback was effective in increasing the range of input parameters that match the task goal, hence expanding the size of goal-relevant solutions, which may benefit running performance under changing environmental constraints. [full text]

Is testosterone responsible for athletic success in female athletes?

Edizioni Minerva Medica, The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness from

BACKGROUND: The aim of this study was to determine the interrelationship between the resting serum testosterone (T) levels of female athletes from different types of sporting events and their athletic success.
METHODS: The study involved 599 Russian international-level female athletes (95 highly elite, 190 elite, and 314 sub-elite; age: 16-35 years) and 298 age-matched female controls. The athlete cohort was stratified into four groups according to event duration, distance, and type of activity: 1) endurance athletes, 2) athletes with mixed activity, 3) speed/strength athletes, and 4) sprinters. Athletic success was measured by determining the level of achievement of each athlete.
RESULTS: The mean (SD) T levels of athletes and controls were 1.65 (0.87) and 1.76 (0.6) nmol/L (P=0.057 for difference between groups) with ranges of 0.08-5.82 and 0.38-2.83 nmol/L in athletes and controls, respectively. T levels were positively associated with athletic success in sprinters (P=0.0002 adjusted for age) only. Moreover, none of the sub-elite sprinters had T>1.9 nmol/L, while 50% of elite and highly elite sprinters had T>1.9 nmol/L (OR=47.0; P<0.0001). CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that the measurement of the serum T levels significantly correlates with athletic success in sprinters but not other types of athletes and in the future may be useful in the prediction of sprinting ability.

Acute Effects of Weighted Baseball Throwing Programs on Shoulder Range of Motion – PubMed

Sports Health journal from

Background: Baseball pitching injuries are increasing at an alarming rate. While weighted ball throwing programs may be effective at increasing pitching velocity, previous research has identified a 24% injury rate and a 3.3° increase in shoulder external rotation (ER) range of motion (ROM) after performing a 6-week program. However, previous research has not investigated, separately, the immediate effects of throwing underloaded and overloaded balls on ROM. The purpose of this study was to examine the acute effects of throwing differently weighted baseballs on shoulder ROM. By analyzing these differences, it may be possible to determine the specific weight range that may lead to the greatest increase in ROM and potential injury risk.

Hypothesis: Throwing with weighted balls will result in an increase in shoulder ER ROM.

Study design: Randomized controlled trial.

Level of evidence: Level 2.

Methods: A total of 16 male high school baseball pitchers agreed to participate in this study. The participants were (mean ± SD) 17.1 ± 1.0 years of age, 1.81 ± 0.09 m tall, and had a mass of 79.2 ± 11.1 kg. Each participant was tested on 3 different days, 1 week apart, with 3 different conditions in random order: (1) underload throwing, using regulation 5-oz baseballs and 4- and 2-oz balls; (2) overload throwing, using 5-, 6-, and 9-oz balls; and (3) extreme overload throwing, using 5-, 16-, and 32-oz balls. Each testing session began by measuring passive shoulder ROM (external rotation and internal rotation) using standard goniometric measurements. Participants then performed 3 throws with each weighted ball from 3 different positions (kneeling, rocker, and run-and-gun) for a total of 27 throws each test session. ROM measurements were repeated at the end of each test session. The effect of each throwing condition on ROM was compared from pre- to posttraining using a paired t test (P ≤ 0.05).

Results: There was no significant difference in ER after throwing at underloaded weights. The overload condition showed a statistically significant increase of 3.3° in external rotation (P = 0.05). The extreme overload condition showed a statistically significant increase in ER of 8.4° (P < 0.001). There were no differences in internal rotation for any group. Conclusion: A significant increase in shoulder ER was observed immediately after throwing overload weighted balls. This effect increased as the weights of the balls increased.

Clinical relevance: Throwing with overload weighted baseballs causes an immediate increase in shoulder ER ROM. It is unknown why these changes occur; however, the results may explain both the increase in velocity and injury rates previously observed from throwing weighted balls. The current study results may be used to develop more scientifically validated weighted ball programs. Heavier balls should be used with caution, and ROM should be monitored during implementation of these programs.

Color-Changing Ink Turns Clothes into Giant Chemical Sensors

Scientific American, Jillian Kramer from

A new color-changing ink could aid in health and environment monitoring—for example, allowing clothing that switches hues when exposed to sweat or a tapestry that shifts colors if carbon monoxide enters a room. The formulation could be printed on anything from a T-shirt to a tent.

Wearable sensing devices such as smartwatches and patches use electronics to monitor heart rate, blood glucose, and more. Now researchers at Tufts University’s Silklab say their new silk-based inks can respond to, and quantify, the presence of chemicals on or around the body. Silk’s ability to “act like a protective ‘cocoon’ for biological materials” means the necessary sensing and color-changing materials can be added to the ink without losing their function, says Fiorenzo Omenetto, a biomedical engineer at Silklab and senior author of a new paper on the technology.

Flexible Material Shows Potential for Use in Fabrics to Heat, Cool

North Carolina State University, NC State News from

A film made of tiny carbon nanotubes (CNT) may be a key material in developing clothing that can heat or cool the wearer on demand. A new North Carolina State University study finds that the CNT film has a combination of thermal, electrical and physical properties that make it an appealing candidate for next-generation smart fabrics.

The researchers were also able to optimize the thermal and electrical properties of the material, allowing the material to retain its desirable properties even when exposed to air for many weeks. Moreover, these properties were achieved using processes that were relatively simple and did not need excessively high temperatures.

22 ACL Papers That Have Shaped My Clinical Practice

Mick Hughes from

Over the last decade, there has been a plethora of research papers published on the ACL. As a result, I want to share with you some of the key papers that have been published during this time that have shaped my clinical practice.

What’s the R-number in your business? Part I

21st Club, Rasmus Ankersen from

… I guess you could say that the R-number is designed to do the same job for us as canaries did for the coal mine workers: detect the danger early so we can change our behaviour before it is too late. Because there is a time delay between the reproduction number rising, people being hospitalised and some dying the R-number enables us to be on the front foot and change before the problem spins completely out of control.

I believe every business should have its own R-number. Think about it this way; within organisations there is also a time delay between cause and effect. Your outcomes in April are not the consequence of something you did in April. In some businesses the time delay is days, in other businesses, depending on its size and complexity, it can be months and even years before your underlying performance impacts your results.

How Olympic sports are fighting for survival at the collegiate level

ESPN College Sports from

… While the pandemic has caused widespread panic, it has forced sport groups to get creative about their future.

Swimming and diving teams could still travel for winter training if they fundraise for the trips on their own. Utah men’s swimming and diving coach Joe Dykstra said that’s what happened at North Texas when he coached there.

Pools are expensive to operate, so programs that share their pools with the university’s student recreation department don’t incur such heavy costs.

“East Carolina just cut their men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams, which were highly successful, multiyear conference champion teams, and cited the fact that the pool was old,” Dykstra said. “Rebuilding a new pool was going to cost millions of dollars that they didn’t have, so they chose to put those resources into other sports that had facilities that were a little more up-to-date.”

Maybe Colleges Should Be Adding Sports, Not Dropping Them

Sportico, Eben Novy-Williams from

In 2018 the state’s board of education had told its flagship university to cut its athletics expenses by $1 million. The result likely meant the elimination of three sports—women’s swimming, women’s soccer and men’s golf—and the addition of a low-cost sand volleyball program.

But looking at the numbers, Staben came to a different conclusion. By accounting for the tuition paid by non-scholarship athletes on those teams—money that went onto the school’s balance sheet, not the athletic department’s—he concluded that those programs were actually net profitable for the school. Instead of cutting sports to save money, Staben argued that Idaho should add them.

Expanding athletics would require the board to loosen its cap on how much general education revenue was earmarked for sports, but Staben felt that spending more would ultimately lead to earning more.

Why are there so few British Asian footballers at professional clubs?

The Guardian, Sean Ingle from

There’s a story the academic Daniel Kilvington tells in a new book – Race, Ethnicity and Racism in Sports Coaching – that speaks volumes about how far football has to go to tackle its final frontier. It concerns a British Asian who used his real name when applying for jobs in football only to fail to gain any interviews. So instead he adopted his racially ambiguous nickname instead, and found himself increasingly shortlisted for positions. The kicker? According to Kilvington: “This individual is now a relatively high-profile and respected figure within the game.”

How many other sliding-doors moments might be out there? I ask because amid all the important and overdue discussions about the lack of diversity in the game’s boardrooms and management, another topic is being overlooked: the lack of British Asian players on the pitch. While there are the odd exceptions, such as Neil Taylor at Aston Villa or Hamza Choudhury at Leicester, you can count the number of British Asians in Premier League history on one hand. It is not much different lower down the pyramid. Kilvington notes that while a quarter of the 3,700 professional players are black, only 0.25% are British Asian.

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