Applied Sports Science newsletter – July 17, 2020

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


Tierna Davidson embraces expectations that come with playing for USWNT

USA Today Sports, Nancy Armour from

… The defender for the Chicago Red Stars was the youngest member of last year’s World Cup champions, picked for the team just 16 months after making her debut with the USWNT. With many of the team’s biggest stars unlikely to be around in 2023 or, if they are, playing reduced roles, Davidson, now 21, and midfielder Rose Lavelle, 25, are expected to be the cornerstones who will carry the team for the next decade.

“Something that I learned pretty quickly is getting called up to the national team is not a moment where you should say, `Oh, I finally made it.’ That’s just the beginning,” Davidson said in the latest episode of the Changing the Game podcast

Reinventing Derrick Williams

Fansided, The Step Back blog, Andrew Favakeh from

Williams shot 27 percent from 3 as a rookie. He was labeled a “tweener” — too slow to defend opposing guards, too small to challenge opposing forwards.

“What I did bring to the table, it wasn’t in at the time,” Williams said. “I felt like what I could bring to the table was that I could play multiple positions, and bring guys like Aldridge, Griffin, slower 4s out, kind of like I did in college. With the mix of Kevin Love, Anthony Randolph, Michael Beasley, it just wasn’t a lot of space. So that didn’t really make sense to me.”

There was turbulence throughout the season with teammates, too. When Williams did play with Love — which was rare — the veteran, who had led the league in rebounds the year prior, would chide Williams for stealing his rebounds. At the end of the season, Williams thought he had played reasonably well given the circumstances. Adelman disagreed, blasting his lack of consistency and confidence.

Over the offseason, Adelman demanded Williams lose at least 15 pounds, to drop from 240 to 225 pounds. Williams took up rigorous boxing and cycling sessions in addition to revitalizing his diet. Shedding weight did little to help, though.

Inter-brain synchrony in teams predicts collective performance

PsyArXiv; Diego Reinero Suzanne Dikker Jay Van Bavel from

Despite decades of research in economics and psychology attempting to identify ingredients that make up successful teams, neuroscientists have only just begun to study how multiple brains interact. Recent research has shown that people’s brain activity becomes synchronized with others’ (inter-brain synchrony) during social engagement. However, little is known as to whether inter-brain synchrony relates to collective behavior within teams. Here, we merge the nascent field of group neuroscience with the extant literature of team dynamics and collective performance. We recruited 174 participants in groups of 4 and randomly assigned them to complete a series of problem-solving tasks either independently or as a team, while simultaneously recording each person’s brain activity using an EEG hyperscanning setup. This design allowed us to examine the relationship between group identification and inter-brain synchrony in explaining collective performance. As expected, teammates identified more strongly with one another, cooperated more on an economic game, and outperformed the average individual on most problem-solving tasks. Crucially, inter-brain synchrony, but not self-reported group identification, predicted collective performance among teams. These results suggest that inter-brain synchrony can be informative in understanding collective performance among teams where self-report measures may fail to capture behavior.

Ambitious new association strengthens the sports sector in Denmark

Sports Lab Copenhagen from

… In recent years, the Danish sports sector has been in rapid development with thousands of new jobs, new providers and new educations. A new association for all players in the Danish sports sector aims to contribute to a stronger common, industry identity in the sector and to create a cross-sectoral platform for development and cooperation among the players in the sector.

IdrætsPlatformen Danmark (Sports Hub Denmark)’s vision is to strengthen the Danish sports sector by supporting visibility, competence development and new collaborations between a very broad range of players in the Danish sports sector. Despite the large element of volunteering in the sector, sports in Denmark have a total of more than 25,000 employees and also have a number of areas and development features in common with other sectors such as public education, culture, experience economy, public health, etc.

The Effects of Oral Contraceptives on Exercise Performance in Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Sports Medicine journal from


Oral contraceptive pills (OCPs) are double agents, which downregulate endogenous concentrations of oestradiol and progesterone whilst simultaneously providing daily supplementation of exogenous oestrogen and progestin during the OCP-taking days. This altered hormonal milieu differs significantly from that of eumenorrheic women and might impact exercise performance, due to changes in ovarian hormone-mediated physiological processes.

To explore the effects of OCPs on exercise performance in women and to provide evidence-based performance recommendations to users.

This review complied with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses guidelines. A between-group analysis was performed, wherein performance of OCP users was compared with naturally menstruating women, and a within-group analysis was conducted, wherein performance during OCP consumption was compared with OCP withdrawal. For the between-group analysis, women were phase matched in two ways: (1) OCP withdrawal versus the early follicular phase of the menstrual cycle and (2) OCP consumption versus all phases of the menstrual cycle except for the early follicular phase. Study quality was assessed using a modified Downs and Black Checklist and a strategy based on the recommendations of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment Development and Evaluation working group. All meta-analyses were conducted within a Bayesian framework to facilitate probabilistic interpretations.

42 studies and 590 participants were included. Most studies (83%) were graded as moderate, low or very low quality, with 17% achieving high quality. For the between-group meta-analysis comparing OCP users with naturally menstruating women, posterior estimates of the pooled effect were used to calculate the probability of at least a small effect (d ≥ 0.2). Across the two between-group comparison methods, the probability of a small effect on performance favouring habitual OCP users was effectually zero (p < 0.001). In contrast, the probability of a small effect on performance favouring naturally menstruating women was moderate under comparison method (1) (d ≥ 0.2; p = 0.40) and small under comparison method (2) (d ≥ 0.2; p = 0.19). Relatively large between-study variance was identified for both between-group comparisons (t0.5 = 0.16 [95% credible interval (CrI) 0.01–0.44] and t0.5 = 0.22 [95% CrI 0.06–0.45]). For the within-group analysis comparing OCP consumption with withdrawal, posterior estimates of the pooled effect size identified almost zero probability of a small effect on performance in either direction (d ≥ 0.2; p ≤ 0.001). Conclusions

OCP use might result in slightly inferior exercise performance on average when compared to naturally menstruating women, although any group-level effect is most likely to be trivial. Practically, as effects tended to be trivial and variable across studies, the current evidence does not warrant general guidance on OCP use compared with non-use. Therefore, when exercise performance is a priority, an individualised approach might be more appropriate. The analysis also indicated that exercise performance was consistent across the OCP cycle. [full text]

Cortisol and Exercise – Impacts on Weight, Adrenal Fatigue and More

RunToTheFinish blog, Amanda Brooks from

… If you have chronically high cortisol from leading a stressful life, then you need to ensure your workouts aren’t pushing that number even higher. That means not working out 7 days a week, not doing double days and not doing a ton of HIIT.

This is one reason I switched to Low Heart Rate training and have found it beneficial for many of my athletes. Now they know how to truly run easy on easy days, which make up the majority of your miles.

Endurance athletes tend to have a higher threshold for pain (and stress) which leads us to believe that we are “handling it all just fine”. In reality our bodies are physiologically unable to respond to a consistently high level of cortisol.

Performance changes during the off-season period in football players – Effects of age and previous hamstring injury

Journal of Sports Sciences from

The aims of this study were to investigate changes in selected performance measures during an off-season period, their association, and the potential role of age and previous hamstring injury in semi-professional and amateur football players. Seventy-four male players (age: 25 ± 4 years, stature: 178.0 ± 6.6 cm, body mass: 74.9 ± 8.1 kg) were assessed at the beginning and end of the off-season summer-period for sprint, change-of-direction performance and eccentric hamstring strength. Small to medium increases in sprint times were observed at 5 (d = 0.26, p = 0.057), 10 (d = 0.42, p < 0.001) and 30 m (d = 0.64, p < 0.001). Small (d = −0.23, p = 0.033) improvements were observed for COD performance, and no changes in eccentric hamstring strength (d = 0.10, p = 0.317). The changes in the outcomes were not affected by age (p = 0.449 to 0.928) or previous hamstring injury (p = 0.109 to 0.995). The impaired sprint performance was not related to changes in eccentric hamstring strength (r = −0.21 to 0.03, p = 0.213 to 0.856), instead, changes in COD performance were associated with changes in eccentric hamstring strength (r = −0.42, p = 0.008).

Occurrences of near-to-maximal speed running bouts in elite soccer: insights for training prescription and injury mitigation

Martin Buchheit from

The aim of the present study was to quantify the occurrence of near-to-maximal speed running bouts in elite soccer players. Tracking match data from 35 elite professional players (23±3 yrs) were analysed over four seasons (2015-2019). The number of runs reaching >80, >85 and >90% of players’ individual maximal sprinting speed (MSS) were computed. Potential differences in peak speed occurrences between halves and positions were analysed. The occurrences was not different between halves (trivial effect sizes), but slightly- to-moderately position-dependent, with wingers (3.5±2.0 runs >80%, 1.5±1.3 >85% and 0.5±0.7 >90% per half) and central midfielders (1.6±1.5 runs >80%, 0.7±1.0 >85% and 0.2±0.5 >90% per half) performing the most and the least number of near-to-maximal speed running bouts. Players did not reach >90% of MSS at all in 35% (Attackers) to 65% (Midfielders) of their matches; they reached ≥3 times >90% MSS per match in 2% (Midfielders) to 11% (Attackers) of their matches only. The maximal number of cumulated match occurrences during congested periods were observed in a central defender (̴2 runs >90% of MSS every 4 days for 31 days, starting 8/8 matches) and a winger (1 run every 4 days for 52 days starting 13/14 matches). The occurrence of near-to-maximal speed running bouts is low in elite soccer. Match context, playing position and individual player profile are the main determinants of those occurrences. The present data can nevertheless help practitioners to design compensation sessions for substitutes, which should be useful in the context of both performance enhancement and injury mitigation.

The Effects of Menstrual Cycle Phase on Exercise Performance in Eumenorrheic Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Sports Medicine journal from


Concentrations of endogenous sex hormones fluctuate across the menstrual cycle (MC), which could have implications for exercise performance in women. At present, data are conflicting, with no consensus on whether exercise performance is affected by MC phase.

To determine the effects of the MC on exercise performance and provide evidence-based, practical, performance recommendations to eumenorrheic women.

This review followed the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Four databases were searched for published experimental studies that investigated the effects of the MC on exercise performance, which included at least one outcome measure taken in two or more defined MC phases. All data were meta-analysed using multilevel models grounded in Bayesian principles. The initial meta-analysis pooled pairwise effect sizes comparing exercise performance during the early follicular phase with all other phases (late follicular, ovulation, early luteal, mid-luteal and late luteal) amalgamated. A more comprehensive analysis was then conducted, comparing exercise performance between all phases with direct and indirect pairwise effect sizes through a network meta-analysis. Results from the network meta-analysis were summarised by calculating the Surface Under the Cumulative Ranking curve (SUCRA). Study quality was assessed using a modified Downs and Black checklist and a strategy based on the recommendations of the Grading of Recommendations Assessment Development and Evaluation (GRADE) working group.

Of the 78 included studies, data from 51 studies were eligible for inclusion in the initial pairwise meta-analysis. The three-level hierarchical model indicated a trivial effect for both endurance- and strength-based outcomes, with reduced exercise performance observed in the early follicular phase of the MC, based on the median pooled effect size (ES0.5 = − 0.06 [95% credible interval (CrI): − 0.16 to 0.04]). Seventy-three studies had enough data to be included in the network meta-analysis. The largest effect was identified between the early follicular and the late follicular phases of the MC (ES0.5 = − 0.14 [95% CrI: − 0.26 to − 0.03]). The lowest SUCRA value, which represents the likelihood that exercise performance is poor, or among the poorest, relative to other MC phases, was obtained for the early follicular phase (30%), with values for all other phases ranging between 53 and 55%. The quality of evidence for this review was classified as “low” (42%).

The results from this systematic review and meta-analysis indicate that exercise performance might be trivially reduced during the early follicular phase of the MC, compared to all other phases. Due to the trivial effect size, the large between-study variation and the number of poor-quality studies included in this review, general guidelines on exercise performance across the MC cannot be formed; rather, it is recommended that a personalised approach should be taken based on each individual’s response to exercise performance across the MC. [full text]

The new tattoo: Drawing electronics on skin

University of Missouri, Mizzou News from

One day, people could monitor their own health conditions by simply picking up a pencil and drawing a bioelectronic device on their skin. In a new study, University of Missouri engineers demonstrated that the simple combination of pencils and paper could be used to create devices that might be used to monitor personal health.

Their findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Zheng Yan, an assistant professor in the College of Engineering, said many existing commercial on-skin biomedical devices often contain two major components — a biomedical tracking component and a surrounding flexible material, such as plastic, to provide a supportive structure for the component to maintain an on-skin connection with a person’s body.

Tony Strudwick reveals the on-field gadget keeping Sheffield Wednesday players safe

The Star (UK), Alex Miller from

… “The technology allows us to go back and look at the member of staff and see where they were at any one time and see which players came into contact. The information will be really critical to make sure we minimise risks.

“It’s been invaluable. In the event of a positive test it allows us to go back and track and trace where players have been.”

The technology has been used in a number of sports and what has been interesting, Strudwick said, is how little time footballers actually spend in close proximity to another player during their time on the pitch.

“When you are playing 11 v 11 the time spent in a real close proximity is less than five minutes,” Strudwick said. “It is one of the safest things to do.

NCAA issues extended guidelines to help navigate return to fall sports during coronavirus pandemic

ESPN College Sports, Heather Dinich from

The NCAA Sport Science Institute on Thursday released extended guidelines to help schools continue to navigate a return to fall sports amid the coronavirus pandemic, including testing and results within 72 hours of competition in “high contact risk sports,” but NCAA president Mark Emmert conceded the virus is trending in the wrong direction.

“When we made the extremely difficult decision to cancel last spring’s championships, it was because there was simply no way to conduct them safely,” Emmert said in a statement. “This document lays out the advice of health care professionals as to how to resume college sports if we can achieve an environment where COVID-19 rates are manageable. Today, sadly, the data point in the wrong direction. If there is to be college sports in the fall, we need to get a much better handle on the pandemic.”

How Much Marijuana Will NBA Players Need in the Bubble?

InsideHook, Evan Bleier from

While it remains to be seen whether NBA players will be able to get ladies of the night into the bubble in Orlando, it appears to be a foregone conclusion that many will be bringing in Mary Jane to accompany them.

In a piece in The Athletic, Golden State Warriors beat writer Marcus Thompson II — who can’t cover his team in the bubble because they didn’t qualify for the league’s restart — theorized that players on teams that make the conference or NBA Finals will need more than one pound of marijuana with them in the bubble as they could end up being in Orlando for a maximum of 82 days.

Rays like playoff chances during pandemic-shortened season

Associated Press, Fred Goodall from

The Tampa Bay Rays like their chances of returning to the playoffs and reject the notion that winning the World Series during a season shortened by the coronavirus pandemic would be less impressive than capturing a title under normal circumstances.

“This season counts. It counts just as much as any other,” defensive whiz Kevin Kiermaier said.

“You’ve got 30 teams right now with the same record, just the way we show up in spring training,” the three-time Gold Glove centerfielder added. “You usually play 162 games. But if every team is asked to play 60 games in 66 days, then we all have the same opportunity.”

The Houston Dash Have Something To Prove

FiveThirtyEight, Bria Felicien from

… Many of the players “have been traded around, four to five teams now,” said Groom, who is on her fourth NWSL team since joining the league in 2015. “We’re ready to make Houston home and Houston a team that is to be feared and someone you don’t want to play against.”

In the first two matches of the Cup, Houston defended better, pressed higher and was newly creative in ways it wasn’t in 2019. The club, helmed by second-year head coach James Clarkson, went through a roster overhaul in the offseason with a focus on fitness, efficiency in the attack and sturdier defense.

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