Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 10, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 10, 2020


NBA time zone: body clocks get a reset inside the bubble

Associated Press, Tim Reynolds from

… The Clippers and the Portland Trail Blazers played Saturday, a game that started at 1 p.m. in Lake Buena Vista — and 10 a.m. in their local markets. It’s not uncommon for a Western Conference team to play maybe one or two of those early games on an Eastern Conference trip each year, but a West vs. West matchup at that time is generally unprecedented.

“It’s just all the different times are a little different because we usually set our own times for practice,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said. “Because there’s a lot of teams, obviously that would be impossible to do, and so they’re doing the best that they can. It’s just something different for us, and everybody has to get used to it and deal with it.”


Barca Innovation Hub from

… Different studies have shown how heat affects sports performance. For example, in a study involving 19 elite football players (Mohr and Krustrup, 2013), researchers saw that jumping performance (a marker for fatigue) decreased significantly (6%) during matches played in high temperatures (~30°C), while this decrease was not observed when playing in cooler temperatures (~12°C). In fact, it is known that the best performance in football is found in temperatures between 11 and 15ºC (Link and Weber, 2017; Zhou et al., 2019). In addition, loss of jumping ability correlates with weight loss during the game, reflecting that dehydration plays a major role in performance loss. On the other hand, if humidity is high, sweat does not evaporate as effectively as in a dry environment, and consequently, more sweat is produced in the attempt to balance the temperature, losing more water and compromising hydration and the blood’s regulatory mechanism.

Wizney World Blog: Final week, interview with Dr. Daniel Medina, Wizney World blog, Zach Rosen from

… To round out this post, I caught up with Dr. Daniel Medina, who is Monumental Basketball’s Chief of Athlete Care & Performance. Dr. Medina and his group have done a phenomenal job keeping us safe and healthy since this entire journey began in late June.

1. What has the experience been like for you personally and professionally?

Professionally, it has been a really unique experience. It’s hard to believe that it was only 6-8 weeks ago that making it to the bubble and then being able to restart the season seemed like a chimera for most of us. Having the opportunity to participate directly in the process the NBA has put in place with the teams to create the safest possible environment has been really enriching professionally. The opportunity to live 24/7 with our athletes and coaches has also created spaces for interaction that we normally don’t have. I have had similar experiences with FC Barcelona during the summer tours in the U.S. or Asia, but definitely the bubble aspect makes this experience a unique experience.

The use of standardised runs (and associated data analysis) to monitor neuromuscular status in team sports players: a call to action

Sport Performance & Science Reports from

The gold standard to measure neuromuscular function is the twitch interpolation technique (5) (Figure 1); this approach is however exclusively of use for research and is unfeasible within the team sports context (6). In the field, to have a global idea about player’s neuromuscular status, jump variations are of-ten used (e.g. counter movement jump, drop jump, hopping)(4). However, it is worth noting that in team sports force applications occur mainly horizontally, which suggests thatthe current (jump) methodology may lack sensitivity to monitor running-based specific neuromuscular status (7). More-over, several practical challenges remain (e.g. time constraint within the microcycle, logistics, data analysis, testing intensity) making the assessment of neuromuscular status difficult in the context of team sports.

To overcome those challenges, standardised runs have been proposed as an alternative to jump variations as they can be easily implemented during training sessions on the pitch such as during warm-ups, with all players being tested at once. In fact, some of the accelerometer data collected during these runs have been proposed for the monitoring of neuromuscular status, due to their potential relationship with leg stiffness (8),which is itself affected by fatigue (9). [full text]

In-ear nerve-stimulating device helps people learning a new language

New Scientist, Technology, Layal Liverpool from

An in-ear device that stimulates a major nerve leading to the brain can help people learn unfamiliar sounds in a new language.

Vagus nerve stimulation has been used for more than 20 years to treat conditions like epilepsy, but it usually involves surgery to implant electrodes so they are directly in contact with the nerve in the neck. Matthew Leonard at the University of California, San Francisco, and his colleagues have developed an earbud-like electrode that can stimulate the part of the vagus nerve that extends into the ear without the need for an implant.

Men’s and Women’s World Championship Marathon Performances and Changes With Fatigue Are Not Explained by Kinematic Differences Between Footstrike Patterns

Frontiers in Sports & Active Living journal from

World-class marathon runners make initial contact with the rearfoot, midfoot or forefoot. This novel study analyzed kinematic similarities and differences between rearfoot and non-rearfoot strikers within the men’s and women’s 2017 IAAF World Championship marathons across the last two laps. Twenty-eight men and 28 women, equally divided by footstrike pattern, were recorded at 29.5 and 40 km (laps 3 and 4, respectively) using two high-definition cameras (50 Hz). The videos were digitized to derive spatiotemporal and joint kinematic data, with additional footage (120 Hz) used to identify footstrike patterns. There was no difference in running speed, step length or cadence between rearfoot and non-rearfoot strikers during either lap in both races, and these three key variables decreased in athletes of either footstrike pattern to a similar extent between laps. Men slowed more than women between laps, and overall had greater reductions in step length and cadence. Rearfoot strikers landed with their foot farther in front of the center of mass (by 0.02–0.04 m), with non-rearfoot strikers relying more on flight distance for overall step length. Male rearfoot strikers had more extended knees, dorsiflexed ankles and hyperextended shoulders at initial contact than non-rearfoot strikers, whereas female rearfoot strikers had more flexed hips and extended knees at initial contact. Very few differences were found at midstance and toe-off. Rearfoot and non-rearfoot striking techniques were therefore mostly indistinguishable except at initial contact, and any differences that did occur were very small. The spatiotemporal variables that differed between footstrike patterns were not associated with faster running speeds and, ultimately, neither footstrike pattern prevented reductions in running speeds. The only joint angle measured at a specific gait event to change with fatigue was midswing knee flexion angle in men. Coaches should thus note that encouraging marathon runners to convert from rearfoot to non-rearfoot striking is unlikely to provide any performance benefits, and that training the fatigue resistance of key lower limb muscle-tendon units to avoid decreases in step length and cadence are more useful in preventing reductions in speed during the later stages of the race. [full text]

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

Forbes, Sean Deveney from

… It is an important frontline tool to monitor COVID-19, from a company that has already had extensive and years-long interaction with the NBA—along with other major organizations in the U.S., Australia and across the globe, including the military. Fusion Sport is the database used by the NBA for measurements taken at the NBA Draft Combine, at the NBA’s Global Academy in Canberra, Australia, and in other NBA programs.

In those programs, Fusion keeps a checklist of more standard health-related items—sleep, wellness, mental health. But as the novel coronavirus began its spread around the globe in the late winter and early spring this year, Deutsch began fielding a different type of request from clients: Can we use this technology to help battle COVID-19?

His response: “Of course.”

Because Fusion was already set up to gather data through daily questionnaires and wearable technology given to players, soldiers and other clients, the company needed only to alter its technology slightly. “It is really just a matter of doing the work to build out a number of specific options,” Deutsch said. “It was an easy pivot. Our goal generally is to help our clients optimize the output of their workforces. We just had to adjust that to what we know about COVID.”

imec unveils 60 GHz radar chip for contactless health tracking

New Electronics from

At the IEEE/RFIC conference, held virtually this week, imec has presented a mmWave motion detection radar at 60GHz, integrated in standard 28nm CMOS.

With a 2-cm range resolution, this ultra-sensitive radar has been optimised for vital sign monitoring and gesture recognition. The compact radar chip consumes just 62 mW, making the sensor integrable into small, battery-powered devices.

Mental Health in Football: Why we can’t hide from it any longer

The Football Pink, Stephen Kierans from

… The ignorance towards mental health for so long is something that society is now trying to reform with a new generational attitude towards the issue. The platform to speak without judgement has been broadened and applauded for those that take that leap of faith. Former footballers have opened up about their struggles with depression and other issues throughout their career. Players like Ryan Giggs, Robbie Savage, Tony Adams and Stan Collymore, to name a few, have all spoken out about their sufferings in the past. They all suffered in silence at a time where millions of eyes were on them in the spotlight. They didn’t feel comfortable speaking out because the platform wasn’t there to be open about themselves.

Prediction models for musculoskeletal injuries in professional sporting activities: A systematic review – Seow

Translational Sports Medicine journal from

The purpose of this systematic review was twofold: (a) identify prediction models for musculoskeletal injuries during the participation of professional sporting activities and (b) evaluate these models by their predictive performances. A systematic review of the PubMed and Embase databases was performed using specific search terms selected according to the PRISMA guidelines. Ten studies met the eligibility criteria and were included. The most commonly employed data component for data pre‐processing was body composition data (most commonly, body mass and height), followed by player profile (most commonly, age followed by position). The most common machine learning technique for data processing was the decision tree, followed by logistic regression. The median AUC of the best performing models indicated per study was 0.75 (0.16), median sensitivity/recall was 0.78 (0.15), median specificity was 0.81 (0.27), and median precision was 0.53 (0.13). The performance of prediction models in the literature has been poor, caused by a fundamental difficulty in discovering real effects in small sample sizes with low injury rates. A better understanding of how training and game exposure is associated with the data components for data pre‐processing and ultimately associated with injury is vital for the future development of robust injury prediction models.

Sports nutrition protein bar innovation

Natural Products INSIDER, Madison Dorn from

Protein is currently the top functional bar ingredient and is often what comes to consumers’ minds when sports nutrition is mentioned. Nutrition Business Journal (NBJ) called protein “the last macro standing,” as its public perception remains unscathed in comparison to carbohydrates and fats. Ever-evolving fitness trends have led to a higher demand for protein-rich diets. Combined with consumer desire for convenience, protein snacks and bars offer the perfect solution, as they provide a means to increase overall protein intake without adding unnecessary calories.

With such a competitive landscape, the question then becomes how brands can innovate within the protein bar space. Some feel as though the nutrition bar market has reached its level of maturity with not much room left to innovate or expand. As so many brands and ingredients are on the market, each attempt at innovation could start to feel like a me-too maneuver. How are brands combating this me-too stigma and seeking to be innovative in this space by bringing something new to the table?

CBD may help boost athletic performance

ZME Science, Tibi Puiu from

… In 2019, researchers at McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and McGill University, Canada found that CBD binds to specific receptors involved in anxiety (serotonin 5-HT1A) and pain (vanilloid TRPV1).

Rat experiments administered with 5 mg/kg/day of CBD as an intravenous dose showed this dose increased 5-HT firing through desensitization of 5-HT1A receptors. Treatment with CBD for seven days reduced mechanical allodynia (when pain is experienced despite there being no obvious cause for pain), normalized 5-HT activity, and decreased behavior which was anxiety-like.

In a new study published in Sports Medicine, researchers led by Danielle McCartney of the University of Sydney reviewed more than 200 previously published studies on the physiological, biochemical, and psychological effects of CBD that may be relevant to sport and/or exercise performance.

Injured Pitchers Are MLB’s Other Big Pandemic Problem

The Ringer, Ben Lindbergh from

You’re not imagining things: There has been an uptick of pitchers on the IL. It most likely has something to do with the start-and-stop nature of this abbreviated season.

Puncher’s chance: Fighting is up during unique NHL playoffs

Associated Press, Stephen Whyno from

… Fighting has decreased drastically in recent years, especially in the playoffs when every shift matters, but the unique circumstances of hockey’s restart — several months off, empty arenas and more intense best-of-five series — have ratcheted up the fisticuffs in the battle for the Stanley Cup.

“Guys are full of energy, and there’s guys walking the line a little bit more,” New York Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “In a short series, I think guys are looking to change momentum. … When a guy’s coming at you and intense, you’re being intense back, and when those two sparks collide, sometimes there’s fire. We’ve seen a couple of scraps and some have been game-changing.”

Stop Hiring for “Cultural Fit”

Kellogg Insight, Lauren Rivera from

When you prioritize candidates you “click with,” you run the risk of discriminating against candidates from different backgrounds. Here’s how to change course.

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