Applied Sports Science newsletter – July 29, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for July 29, 2020


The king self-motivates – LeBron’s obsessive intensity fits the pandemic bubble

TrueHoop, Henry Abbott from

… LeBron’s relentlessness—as a worker, as a teammate, as a leader—has always been a double-edged sword. It has made him the best, but it’s also the sore spot that led to falling out with teammates who might have helped him win more. Compared to Stephen Curry or Kawhi Leonard, LeBron has not had a lot of young teammates blossom into stars. It’s part of the reason he has played on many subpar rosters.

In a pandemic, however … it looks like more of a superpower than ever. A year ago, TrueHoop featured a series about the obsessive mentality of many of the world’s top athletes—today we will revisit that mentality in the new context of COVID-19.

NFL camps open with careful COVID optimism

NBC Sports. Peter King's Football Morning in America from

When the deal to open training camps on time got done Friday, a call was organized for all the football people, coaches and GMs, in the NFL. Super Bowl champion coach Andy Reid was asked to speak. He’s become a sort of United Nations secretary general, a bridge to all constituencies—speaking to union reps, advising commissioner Roger Goodell, working with the league on a sensible training-camp schedule, and talking to his peer coaches and general managers. Reid made the point that this was different than the lockout of 2011, when players and owners were warring and teams couldn’t have contact with players through the spring and most of July.

“This time,” Reid told the football people, “this isn’t us versus them. This isn’t players versus owners and coaches. This is all of us—players, coaches, owners, teams—versus COVID.”

Youth volleyball coach: ‘Parents and players, please hold us accountable’

Aspen Institute Project Play, Bryan McDermand from

… While I’m trying to focus on my own program with maybe 30-40 kids right now, I’m concerned about the stories that parents and players are bringing to my attention. Once Phase 4 was legal in our state with gatherings allowing up to 50 people, it’s been the same old, same old for many volleyball programs in our area. I see 90% of programs not acting on health data.

Right now, I could legally have 50 people on my two courts. We decided to stay with only four per court for now because the No. 1 priority in mitigating risk was limiting our athletes’ contact with additional people. Yet I know of one local indoor volleyball facility that still has up to 100 people inside on 12 courts. I hear of groups running 6-on-6 volleyball with 50 kids all huddled around one court. Kids are high fiving under the net. Kids are sweating and touching their face. Contact is the No. 1 concern in our sport, and it’s happening constantly.

MLS academies and more top youth clubs flock to Copa Rayados Internacional

SoccerWire from

A growing number of MLS academy teams and others from top U.S. youth clubs are aiming to compete in the 2020 Copa Rayados Internacional, a prestigious international tournament held each November outside of Houston, Texas.

Created through a partnership between American tournament company Premier Soccer Services and Mexican professional club C.F. Monterrey Rayados, the Copa Rayados Internacional annually features blue chip prospects from MLS and Liga MX academies, among others. Entering its eighth year, the event has drawn teams from 27 pro club academies, including 11 from Liga MX and 10 from MLS. Attending teams have represented 10 total countries.


Barca Innovation Hub, Esther Morencos Martínez from

The rise of women in sports started years ago, and it is expected to continue growing at all levels. It now corresponds to science to respond to the specificity necessary to apply, in order to adapt its performance. It has been keeping in step with this process for some time, with many steps already started and taken, and many others to go. Let’s not forget that in an example analysis of a magazine, in the first 5 issues of the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance (IJSPP) published in 2019, only 19% of the studies included a female sample and only 4% were exclusively female athletes.

There are great researchers who have been trying to walk this path for decades, such as Dr. Anthony Hackney and his two books that allow us to dive deep into the study of the endocrine system that, together with the nervous system, regulate the functioning of the human body, specifying in the exercise, determining in the woman. Besides anatomical differences so evident that we will not highlight them, we can think of the biomechanical and hormonal parts as two important ones in performance, in that load control and recovery of systems that seek to recover homeostasis… or better yet, allostasis.

A whole new game, indeed: NBA’s ‘next-level’ bubble arena a compelling blend of technology, COVID-19 safety

Dallas Morning News, Brad Townsend from

Bubble reporters received our first in-person look inside one of the arenas that will be used for the 2019-20 NBA restart’s scrimmages, seeding games and playoffs.

About 20 print and broadcast journalists received a tour Tuesday of what is called The Arena, one of three on the ESPN Wide World of Sports campus that will be used during the next three-plus months.

No on-the-record quotes or factoids were provided, but our eyes and ears took in plenty. Also, fortunately, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle had given a scouting report of a tour he took early in the week with Mavericks center Dwight Powell and Thunder guard Chris Paul.

“This is like next-level, unbelievable stuff,” Carlisle gushed.

Scientists build machine learning model for detecting early signs of depression in text

University of Alberta, Folio from

A new machine learning model can detect early signs of depression in written text like Twitter posts, according to a study by University of Alberta computing scientists.

“The outcome of our study is that we can build useful predictive models that can accurately identify depressive language,” said graduate student Nawshad Farruque, who designed the model to identify linguistic clues in everyday communication. “While we are using the model to identify depressive language on Twitter, (it) can be easily applied to text from other domains for detecting depression.”

Wearable temperature monitoring firm raises capital for its expansion amid COVID-19 demand

MobiHealthNews, Sara Mageit from

Celsium, the maker of wearable, medical-grade monitoring devices for measuring temperature, is raising capital for its expansion through private equity investment firm, Growthdeck.

Celsium’s device is an armpit-mounted temperature sensor, which connects via Bluetooth to a smart monitoring platform.

Digital health researchers flock to smart clothing in studying sweat & COVID-19

MobiHealthNews, Laura Lovett from

Engineers from Tufts University demonstrate a new sensor for sweat detection, and Nanowear is teaming up with the New York City-Metro Health Systems to focus on remote detection of COVID-19.

Aussie Tech Company Helping Protect NBA’s COVID-19 Bubble

Forbes, Sean Deveney from

Every morning in the NBA’s hotel campus at Disney World in Orlando, players and coaches wake up to a series of COVID-19-related questions they must answer in an app. Markus Deutsch, the CEO of Fusion Sport, ticks off a few of them that might come up: “How are you feeling? Were you around anyone who had symptoms? Did you get sneezed on? Did you get into any situations where you were unable to socially distance? That was where we started.”

There is also a Kinsa Bluetooth thermometer for a temperature check, which is fed into the app. And there’s a Maximo pulse oximeter that can measure oxygen in the blood—because COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, a drop in oxygen often shows up before any other symptoms. As players complete each question and test, a green box is checked. If the boxes are all green, the players are free to wander.

It’s led to a widespread feeling of security within the NBA’s bubble, even as the novel coronavirus has spiked in many places across the country—including just outside the bubble in Florida.’s SEC behind-the-scenes power players you need to know, John Talty and Matt Zenitz from

… talked to sources throughout college athletics, getting input from Power 5 athletic directors, coaches, high-level administrators, search firm consultants, agents, media members and more. These are the names that came up the most consistently and elicited the strongest praise (listed alphabetically).

Jeff Allen, Alabama associate AD, sports medicine

Not only is Allen regarded as one of the nation’s best and most innovative athletic trainers, but he has also become a trusted confidant of Alabama head coach Nick Saban. As one former Crimson Tide staffer put it, Allen has “contributed to Alabama’s success over the years as much as anyone in the program.” In addition to his work as an athletic trainer, Allen helped design the Tide’s new sports science center and was part of the team that invented the sideline medical tent that’s now widely used across college football and the NFL. Allen, one of the only remaining members of Saban’s original Tide staff, also played a key role throughout Alabama’s search for a new strength and conditioning coach earlier this year that resulted in the hirings of David Ballou and Matt Rhea from Indiana.

Texans announce COVID-19 preparations at training facility

Houston Chronicle, Aaron Wilson from

The Texans released a video Tuesday showing changes to NRG Stadium to prepare for the season in compliance with the NFL’s COVID-19 regulations.

The Texans were one of the first teams to have its Infectious Disease Emergency Response plan approved by the NFL Players Association and the league.

The Texans designated director of medical administration Geoff Kaplan as their designated infection control officer and created a new position of facility hygiene coordinator, hiring Ray Clarage.

No bubble for the 2020 NFL season? Why the league decided against it, what’s next

ESPN NFL, Kevin Seifert from

As the NFL was finalizing its plans for the 2020 season amid the coronavirus pandemic last month, epidemiologist Zachary Binney advocated a severe strategy to anyone who would listen. The league, Binney said, would need 32 self-contained “market bubbles” to keep its essential staff healthy during COVID-19 spikes this fall and winter.

The NFL and NFL Players Association chose differently, of course. And already, their decision to give players and coaches access to local communities has drawn new scrutiny after baseball’s Miami Marlins experienced a large team outbreak less than a week into the start of the MLB season. NFL medical officer Allen Sills said Monday that the league’s plan amounts to a “virtual football bubble,” but its essential structure — strict rules while at the team facilities and stadiums, with guidelines against high-risk behavior when in the community — makes the NFL’s defenses fundamentally similar to those that have already broken down in baseball.

“If you’re the NFL and you’re looking at what happened with the Marlins,” Binney said, “you have to expect that something like this is going to happen to you — unless you are able to change course, reenter negotiations with the [NFL Players Association] and negotiate something like that home-market bubble.”

MLB suspends Marlins’ season through weekend amid outbreak

Associated Press, Steven Wine from

Major League Baseball suspended the Miami Marlins’ season through Sunday, and the Philadelphia Phillies will remain idled by the coronavirus pandemic until Friday, while the rest of baseball forges ahead with trepidation.

“There’s real fear, there’s real anxiety for me, for all my teammates,” Milwaukee Brewers slugger Ryan Braun said Tuesday. “I think we’ve found it very difficult to focus on baseball at all the last couple of days.”

In the wake of a virus outbreak that infected half the Marlins’ team, Braun said MLB players are constantly assessing whether they should keep playing. Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the season could be in jeopardy.

But MLB came up with a patchwork schedule for the rest of this week and said that among more than 6,400 tests conducted since Friday, there were no new positives involving on-field personnel from any team other than the Marlins.

Prevalence of therapeutic use exemptions at the Olympic Games and association with medals: an analysis of data from 2010 to 2018

British Journal of Sports Medicine from

Objectives The percentage of athletes with Therapeutic Use Exemptions (TUEs) competing in elite sport and the association with winning medals has been a matter of speculation in the absence of validated competitor numbers. We used International Olympic Committee (IOC) and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) data to identify athletes competing with TUEs at five Olympic Games (Games) and a possible association between having a TUE and winning an Olympic medal.

Methods We used the IOC’s competition results and WADA’s TUE database to identify the number of TUEs for athlete competitions (ACs, defined as one athlete competing in one event) and any associations with medals among athletes competing in individual competitions. We calculated risk ratios (RR) for the probability of winning a medal among athletes with a TUE compared with that of athletes without a TUE. We also reported adjusted RR (RRadj) controlling for country resources, which is a potential confounder.

Results During the Games from 2010 to 2018, there were 20 139 ACs and 2062 medals awarded. Athletes competed with a TUE in 0.9% (181/20 139) of ACs. There were 21/2062 medals won by athletes with a TUE. The RR for winning a medal with a TUE was 1.13 (95% CI: 0.73 to 1.65; p=0.54), and the RRadj was 1.07 (95% CI: 0.69 to 1.56; p=0.73).

Conclusion The number of athletes competing with valid TUEs at Games is <1%. Our results suggested that there is no meaningful association between being granted a TUE and the likelihood of winning a medal. [full text]

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