Applied Sports Science newsletter – December 23, 2020

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for December 23, 2020


Sara Hall Wins The Marathon Project with Her Second PR This Fall

Podium Runner, Women's Running, Erin Strout from

Not many runners can claim personal records in 2020, but Sara Hall, 37, has done it twice in just 11 weeks. On Sunday in an elite-only 26.2-mile race near Chandler, Arizona, she won the Marathon Project in 2:20:32, becoming the second-fast American woman ever at the distance.

She was attempting to set a new American record, held by Deena Kastor (2:19:36) since 2006, but fell a little short. Still, it was 89 seconds better than Hall’s performance in October, when she placed second at another elite-only race, the London Marathon.

“It feels a little bittersweet, to be honest,” Hall said on Sunday. “I’ve had high expectations for myself and I felt capable of faster than that. But I feel grateful to run a big [personal record] and to be number-two, all-time in the U.S. during this year is such a gift. The competitor in me is disappointed — I maybe went out a little too hot out there.”

Harry Maguire tops the minutes played list in 2020

FourFourTwo, PA Staff from

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire has played more minutes than any other professional footballer in 2020, according to new data.

The England international, 27, played 4,745 minutes up to December 17, the CIES Football Observatory has found.

That put him 401 minutes ahead of Manchester City defender Ruben Dias among outfield players, and five ahead of Marcelo Lomba, the goalkeeper with Brazilian club Internacional.

USWNT stars Morgan, Heath, Lavelle went to Europe due to the pandemic, but don’t expect a larger movement

ESPN FC from

… Former United States manager Jill Ellis was a strong advocate of players remaining in the USA and the USWNT’s existing pay structure makes playing outside of the U.S. quite complicated for players, especially if they don’t have the support of U.S. Soccer. The federation pays the players’ international salaries and game bonuses, as well as the club salaries for USWNT players who play in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL). While teams own the league, U.S. Soccer are employed through a contract to manage aspects of the league. This includes paying national team salaries for some players as well as salaries for at least 22 other players. In exchange for these salaries, the teams and the league limit the amount of players who can go overseas, though this contract is revisited periodically and the next review is due at the end of 2021. It all means that the USSF has an extra interest in its big stars staying home and playing in the States.
Americans in Europe

However, these controls have been loosening in the last year due to a number of internal and external factors. The league has been looking to lessen the control U.S. Soccer has on its players while Ellis’ successor as USWNT coach, Vlatko Andonovski, has said he sees the benefits of players getting experience abroad.

“Every player that is Europe-based, if they’re healthy and performing well, they’re going to be in our plans and will be called for upcoming camps,” Andonovski said when asked about the Europe-based members of his squad.

Which exercises work best to prevent muscle injuries in football?

Barca Innovation Hub, Pedro Valenzuela from

Injuries are a major concern in football. In fact, a study that analysed 24 teams from 9 European countries during 11 years showed that about 7 or 8 injuries occur per one thousand hours of play, with a higher incidence of injuries related to a lower position in the team’s final ranking.1 Among all, muscle injuries are the most frequent ones, more than receiving a blow, fractures and joint injuries.2 Muscle injuries have significant negative consequences for both performance and the economy of the team, as athletes who suffer them have to be on average two weeks away from the team.3 Therefore, developing strategies to prevent muscle injuries is essential.

Football teams employ different exercise programmes to reduce the incidence of muscle injuries, although they sometimes do it without clear evidence about what works. As a recent systematic review4 concluded and summarised in this thought piece (Preventing muscle injuries in elite athletes, which exercises work?), there is not enough evidence to prevent muscle injuries in elite athletes. Therefore, it has been suggested that, in the absence of high-level evidence, consensus among experts may be the best option to guide evidence on the most effective strategies.

In this context, the group Elite Football Performance (EFP), led by prestigious researchers and coaches of elite football teams, such as Arsenal FC, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid CF or AS Roma, have developed a consensus guideline, called the “Delphi survey”, where they describe which exercises would be the most effective ones to prevent muscle injuries, as well as the optimum moment to implement them.

Sport Science from the Ground up with Steve Barrett

Simplifaster blog, Steve Barrett from

Steve Barrett, Director of Sport Science and Research Innovation at Playermaker, earned his PhD, MSc, and BSc in Sport Science and Performance from the University of Hull. Steve has worked in the elite sport environment for more than 14 years as a practitioner with Hull City and The FA (England Women’s), and as a coach gaining his UEFA B. He is a BASES-accredited supervisor/reviewer and a chartered sport scientist, and he has expertise in wearable IMUs in sport.

Freelap USA: Mental fatigue is real in sports, yet most research focuses on neuromuscular fatigue and metabolic fatigue. Could you explain to the readers what mental fatigue is and how it can play a role in team sports like basketball or soccer?

Steve Barrett: Mental fatigue is a psychobiological state experienced following exposure to cognitively demanding tasks (Boksem et al., 2005; Lorist et al., 2005) and has been theorized to be detrimental to performance in sport (Coutts, 2016). Within soccer, led by Chris Thompson, we have been able to see the thoughts and perspectives of players at different age groups and standards across the sport, showing that mental fatigue has multiple factors that can influence it.

Resilience: What it is and how to build it

BBC Science Focus Magazine, Christian Jarrett from

… Psychologists call the ability to walk through bad experiences ‘resilience’. “It generally means adapting well in the face of chronic or acute adversity,” says neuroscientist Dr Golnaz Tabibnia, who studies the neurological basis of resilience at the University of California, Irvine.

Understandably, research interest in why some people are more resilient than others is intensifying. The fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic means that a huge number of people are confronted by various forms of adversity, including illness, bereavement, job loss, isolation and more, together with a constant sense of uncertainty over what the future holds. Is there anything we can learn from the study of resilience to help us cope with the difficult months and years ahead?

How Does Uncertainty Hijack Our Attention?

YouTube, Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute from

Uncertainty about the future has a way of taking over the mind and making it difficult to think about anything else. How it does this is poorly understood.
Now, new research described here has revealed a suite of changes that take place in the unsure brain: from the shifts in the activity of individual cells to signals sent across the brain. [video, 2:26]

Dalian Pro FC and FIFA join hands to create football technology innovation center, Xinhua from

Chinese football club Dalian Pro has announced a collaboration with FIFA, which will result in the establishment of a Football Technology Innovation Hub at its new state-of-the-art academy in Dalian.

The collaboration, which was facilitated by a FIFA Partner, the Dalian Wanda Group, will run for an initial three-year period. The two parties will work closely to continue the development of football in China with a specific focus on research, testing and developing standards for new technologies aimed primarily at youth and grassroots football.

MLS Owner’s Investment Fund Buys into U.S. Hispanic Soccer Ecosystem

Sportico, Eben Novy-Williams from

For Soccer Ventures, the investment fund backed by Philadelphia Union co-owner Richie Graham, has made its first acquisitions: a pair of companies that cater to Hispanic soccer communities in the U.S.

The group bought Alianza de Futbol, which operates clinics, leagues and tournaments outside of the structured U.S. Soccer ecosystem, and JUGOtv, its content studio and media arm. Both were previously owned by billionaire Stephen Ross’s Relevent Sports.

A $50 million fund, For Soccer Ventures wants to create a one-stop platform for anyone involved in the sport in the U.S., from the national teams and Major League Soccer all the way through youth academies and local leagues. To do that successfully, it’s imperative to embrace and involve the country’s Hispanic soccer communities.

The KneeKG is a Gamechanger

Sports Illustrated Sponsored Story, Emovi from

Football star Laurent Duvernay-Tardif has earned accolades on the field and his medical degree off it. But when his own body broke down, he turned to Emovi’s revolutionary KneeKG to get his playing career back on track.

Startup Spotlight :: Archinisis

Sports Technology Blog, Julian Chua from

… Archinisis is a startup based in Switzerland and they are focused on helping elite athletes achieve optimal performance through objective data and personalised training. They do that by using a wearable sensor (IMU) to capture movement data of an athlete during training/testing. Then upon uploading that data to the Archinisis platform, it crunches all that data and provides the coach with relevant performance metrics and useful visualisation of data. This means coaches can keep track of their athletes’ training, know how they are improving, identify where they need improving and plan out appropriate next steps. A key advantage of this system is the efficiency in getting the useful insights rather than spending too much time analysing data and comparing with video capture. Currently, their off-the-shelf performance analysis solutions cater to four sports, including Alpine Skiing, Biathlon (winter sport), Cross-Country Skiing and Track & Field. Besides that, the Archinisis team also provides additional services such as on-site performance analysis and custom algorithm development for people with different requirements.

Emory Healthcare collaborates with CoachSafely to reduce youth sports-related injuries

Emory University, Emory news center, Woodruff Health Sciences Center from

… “Emory Youth Sports Medicine Program serves the needs of athletes before they enter high school with this collaboration,” says Jeff Webb, MD, Emory Sports Medicine physician and co-director of Emory Youth Sports Medicine Program. “Our experts work together to design age-appropriate, individualized treatment plans that help athletes of all ages get back in the game, in a safe, efficient way while rebuilding strength.”

Jack Crowe, CoachSafely Foundation’s founder and chairman, says sports medicine experts are the foundation of teaching injury recognition and prevention to coaches.

What pro sports should learn from resilient women athletes post-pandemic

The Conversation; Katie Lebel, Ann Pegoraro, Dunja Antunovic, Nancy Lough, Nicole M. LaVoi from

… We’re already seeing early evidence of this, with a 468 per cent increase in tweet volume around representation and equality. Advertising featuring women in sport is perceived as 148 per cent more empowering than similar ads with men.

Twitter has also found sports ads featuring women held viewers’ attention for an average of 6.5 seconds and drove 4.8 times higher ad recall than a control group. When women were featured in non-traditional gender roles, recall was 6.3 times higher.

If we consider merchandise as a proxy for demand, a whole new series of supporting metrics emerge. Nike’s 2019 U.S. Women’s National Team home jersey became the No. 1 selling soccer jersey ever, men’s or women’s. The WNBA’s now-famed orange hoodie has nine million impressions on social media, 238,000 engagements and US$250,000 in social media value. According to the online retailer Fanatics, the orange hoodie was the best-selling item across its website in August.

How To Be An Elite Athlete, According To The Data

NPR, Planet Money Newsletter, Greg Rosalsky from

If you want your kid to be an elite athlete, make sure they have older brothers or sisters. That’s one of the insights in a new book, The Best: How Elite Athletes Are Made, which digs into the social science of athletic greatness.

The book is a collaboration between sports scientist Mark Williams and sports writer Tim Wigmore. We recently spoke with Wigmore to figure out how we can finally become champion basketball players. Turns out, it’s too late for us. But maybe not for your kids. At least, the youngest ones.

“Study after study shows that younger siblings have a much greater chance of becoming an elite athlete than older siblings or only children,” Wigmore says.

NCAA overhaul come from Democrats’ College Athletes Bill of Rights

USA Today Sports, Steve Berkowitz from

Sens. Cory Booker and Richard Blumenthal on Thursday are introducing legislation that would dramatically alter the compensation and treatment of athletes in major-college sports programs.

The measure backs those changes with a variety of enforcement provisions that would be directed by a commission whose governing board would be appointed by the President and have subpoena power. It also would provide athletes and state attorneys general the right to sue for enforcement.

The 61-page piece of legislation, named the “College Athletes Bill of Rights,” would go far beyond other recently introduced bills largely aimed at improving athletes’ ability to make money from their names, images and likenesses (NIL).

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