Applied Sports Science newsletter – August 26, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for August 26, 2020


Alex Morgan’s Intense Pregnancy Workout Shows Why She Was Ready for the Olympics 3 Months After Giving Birth

Sportscasting, Matt Wilson from

MLS is fun, but the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team is the crown jewel of American soccer. They aren’t the highest paid, not for lack of trying. But they’re objectively at the apex of the sport. The work ethic that’s required for national play takes a certain personality, and Alex Morgan exemplifies this. She goes so hard that not even pregnancy could slow her down.

Back to backs in the bubble: NHL teams adjust to new normal

Associated Press, Stephen Whyno from

Jon Cooper doesn’t even need to talk to his players to know who is skating and who is resting on a non-game day.

For his Tampa Bay Lightning and the other teams in the NHL playoffs, there are far more days with games. With the league trying to speed through this unusual postseason, every second-round series has at least one back-to-back scheduled — some have multiple sets — and players and coaches are forced to adapt to managing energy and strategy with the Stanley Cup waiting at the end.

“You’ve just got to trust that your guys are doing the right things for themselves,” Cooper said. “Part of it is getting your body ready and getting on the ice, and tying up the skates again is not always the best thing for you. Maybe it’s an outdoor activity or maybe it’s clearing the mind but still getting the body going and get the lactic acid out of your legs. There’s so many different things.”

After another sweep, Pacers turn focus to healthy offseason

Associated Press, Michael Marot from

… “Once you get into the playoffs, you need everybody,” [Nate McMillan] said. “You’re playing against the best. I really felt that we had everybody when we came down and Domas got injured and wasn’t able to play in any of these games. It was a tough adjustment for us.”

McMillan wants players to use the recent postseason failures as motivation to come back healthier and stronger next season.

And the Pacers will continue to search for answers.

“I’m not sure, it’s hard to say,” Oladipo said when asked what’s gone wrong. “It’s hard to gauge because unfortunately we haven’t been 100% healthy the last few years.”

Discomfort design

ACM Interactions; m. schraefel, Aaron Tabor, Elizabeth Murnane from

Over the past 30 years, as digital technologies have become both cheaper and near ubiquitous, from computerized environmental controls in buildings, to cellular networks for no-downtime connectivity, to the pervasive smartphone, we have likewise seen the exponential increase of so-called lifestyle diseases: obesity, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, chronic stress, and lack of sleep—all ailments associated with certain kinds of abundance or excess. That is, we have designed our environments such that, for many of us, for many contexts, much of the time, we do not have to feel discomfort.

Contextual factors and aerobic fitness influence match running performance in elite soccer

Sport Performance & Science Reports from

Overall indexes of players’ match physical performance aretotal distance (TD) and high speed running distances(HSR; speed>19 km/h) covered during a match (1,2). An im-portant factor that affects match running performance of elitesoccer players is their aerobic fitness level, with v-VO2max be-ing correlated with TD and HSR in top level professional soc-cer players (3). Contextual factors, such as playing position,match location, match result, goal difference and oppositionlevel are additional variables that influence the match runningperformance of elite soccer players (4,5). As such, it would beadvantageous to develop a predictive model examining the in-dependent influence of a match performance variable such asTD and HSR, while accounting for all other variables as fitnessand contextual factors using a multiple regression analysi

Brain study suggests how students learn from mistakes

University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education from

The process by which people learn to recognize errors and correct themselves is called error-monitoring. How children engage in the error-monitoring process can teach us about how they interact with and learn from surprising information they encounter in the world.

And a new brain imaging study offers the first evidence that the way students develop error-monitoring is linked to how they are taught in school. The study compared 8-12 year-old students from Montessori schools to similar students educated in traditional schools. While traditional schools emphasize getting the right answers and avoiding mistakes, with the teacher at the helm, in the Montessori method, teachers guide students toward materials specially designed for students to discover for themselves what they are meant to learn. This means that mistakes provide as much information as correct answers, and so should be valued by students.

Football Association of Wales review aims to change grassroots game

BBC Sport, Gareth Vincent from

… Children’s football in Wales has moved on since Adams, now 40, began playing the game.

But there is still progress to be made, hence a two-year review into mini-football conducted by the FAW Trust, the development arm of the national association.

The hope is their findings – and the actions taken as a result – will bring numerous benefits, including more game-time for youngsters, more touches, more goals and greater enjoyment, as well as better behaviour among those watching on.

The psychology behind why some college students break Covid-19 rules – CNNSearch CNNOpen Menu

CNN, Scottie Andrew from

… Social students have packed fraternity houses and dorm hallways and snaked their way through bars — all venues for coronavirus transmission. Schools including the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill and the University of Notre Dame have had to send students home for virtual classes after clusters of coronavirus cases cropped up just days into the semester.

It’s easy to blame the clusters of cases solely on the students — it plays perfectly into the stereotype of teenage recklessness and vanity.

But their risky decisions have more to do with their development and mental resilience than conscious rule-breaking, three developmental psychologists told CNN.

A Conversation with Zhenan Bao

ACS Central Science journal, C&EN from

Zhenan Bao of Stanford University is the first recipient of the ACS Central Science Disruptors & Innovators Prize, which highlights a paradigm-shifting scientific breakthrough of broad relevance. Bao, a chemical engineer, received the award for her “extensive and disruptive research in the field of conducting polymer molecular designs and their applications, as well as her outstanding advances in the development of artificial electronic skin and other bioelectronic devices.” Bao’s work in this area includes the development of stretchable circuits, flexible batteries, and a material that connects medical implants to biological tissue. These stretchable electronics allow Bao to build devices that can interface with living tissue. Such electronic skin could also be used for both human prostheses and robots.

NBA draft lottery … P3 works with / has assessed many of the players that are currently projected to be drafted. With teams likely to be unable to assess players this year leading up to draft, we are thinking of partnering w/players to share P3 data

Twitter, P3 from

The Post-Covid WTA is Drifting Back to Normal

Heavy Topspin blog, Jeff Sackmann from

In the two latest WTA events, we saw a mix of the expected and the unusual. Simona Halep, the heavy favorite in Prague, wound up with the title despite a couple of demanding three-setters in her first two rounds. The week’s other tournament, in Lexington, failed to follow the script. Serena Williams and Aryna Sabalenka, the big hitters at the top and bottom of the bracket, combined for three wins, with four unseeded players making up the semi-final field.

Last week I pointed out that Palermo–the tour’s initial comeback event–was so unpredictable that you would’ve been better off to treat each match as a coin flip than to use pre-layoff player strength ratings (such as Elo) to forecast outcomes. Such an upset-ridden event isn’t unheard of, even in pandemic-free times, but it is suggestive that the WTA rank-and-file haven’t quite returned to their usual form.

Prague and Lexington give us three times as much data to work with. Plus, we might theorize that Prague would be a little more predictable because so many players in that field also took part in the Palermo event, meaning that they have a little more recent match experience.

The Raptors’ Defense Is Almost Never The Same, But It’s Always Really Good

FiveThirtyEight, Jared Dubin and Krishna Narsu from

In their second game of the 2019-20 season, the defending champion Toronto Raptors played the division rival Boston Celtics. Boston had struggled offensively in its season opener, scoring only 91.4 points per 100 possessions in a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, and once the game got underway, Toronto replicated much of Philly’s defensive strategy.

The Raptors did not send a single double-team on any of the Celtics’ 19 isolation plays, per Second Spectrum (the Sixers had doubled on zero of 20 isolations). They played soft coverage, with the big man hanging back,1 or ice2 coverage, with the on-ball defender forcing the ball-handler to the sideline or the baseline, on 59 of Boston’s 73 actionable pick and rolls,3 and they did not send an extra defender to blitz the ball-handler a single time (the Sixers played soft or ice coverage on 62 of 71 actionable pick and rolls and sent just one blitz). They were similarly passive against off-ball screens and dribble handoffs, sending zero blitzes on 62 such actions while playing soft or drop coverage 47 times (the Sixers played soft or drop on 48 of 72 off-ball screens and did not blitz at all). But the Raptors did not replicate the Sixers’ results. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward combined for 87 points while hitting 11 of 26 3-point attempts, Boston scored 110.7 points per 100 possessions, and the Raptors lost by 6.

About a month later, the Raptors had gotten more aggressive.

Predicting The Starting Goalie

Sportlogiq, Jack Davis from

Predicting which goaltender will be selected in an NHL hockey game is more difficult than equivalent choices in other sports. In MLB baseball, teams use a ‘rotation’ of starting pitchers, typically five for the sake of load-management and injury prevention. If a pitcher starts in game 1 of a season, they are likely to also pitch in games 6 and 11 as well. While there is some randomness and additional strategic consideration to this process, the rotation is predictable enough that sports media frequently and accurately report the ‘probable starters’ 2 or 3 games in advance.

In NHL hockey, despite teams having fewer goalies to choose from, the prediction task is much harder, and media typically waits until a few hours before a game (e.g. after the morning skate) to report the starting goalie.

Having more accurate predictions is valuable to media to give them something to report early and spin a narrative out of. Predictions are valuable to opposing teams because it helps inform their roster choices, including their own starting goaltender.

How Gators soccer has faced an analytical revolution, Declan Walsh from

… “They are really important in tracking the progress of our players,” said Gators associate coach Alan Kirkup, who is in charge of scouting for the team. “We found that if our team completes 500 passes at an 80 percent completion rate, we will win 90 percent of our games.”

Kirkup noted the importance of these figures in creating a style of play oriented around possession, but they can also shine a light on individual performances.

“If we have a midfield player that is only completing about 50 percent of her passes, she’s probably not going to be on the field very often, said Kirkup.

College Football Is Education, Too

Bloomberg Opinion, Tyler Cowen from

Still, if football is to continue, it’s not clear why Covid-19 should necessarily stop it. The virus may not even be the sport’s biggest major health risk.

So far the data are fragmentary, but they indicate that parties, bar-going and after-hours fraternization — not athletic practices — have been the major risks contributing to Covid-19 clusters among young people of college age. For all the talk of banning athletics, how about university regulations banning all alcohol consumption (including off-campus) for all registered students, under the pain of academic suspension?

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