Applied Sports Science newsletter – January 22, 2021

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for January 22, 2021


Year Zero: How Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2006/07 Manchester United season turned him into the player we know

FourFourTwo, Andrew Murray from

Cristiano Ronaldo was branded a showpony, then a pariah, as his future at Old Trafford looked to be on the rocks. But in 2006, he strapped a rocket launcher to his career. As the Portuguese great turns 35, we look at the season that made him

Gilgeous-Alexander helping young Thunder defy odds again

Associated Press, Cliff Brunt from

… “We’re not trying to build a resilient culture, we’re trying to continue a resilient culture,” [Mark] Daigneault said. “Resilient culture has existed here for a long period of time, ever since the team came here.”

Gilgeous-Alexander is the budding star who leads the way. He averages 21.0 points, 6.2 assists and 5.3 rebounds per game. He hit a game-winner in the season opener against Charlotte.

“He’s taking on a different level of responsibility,” Daigneault said. “He’s playing a different role on this team than he has so far in his career, and he’s not shying away from that.”

The NFL’s conference title games will feature an endangered species: The pocket passer

The Washington Post, Adam Kilgore from

The quartet of quarterbacks contained within the NFL’s conference championship games this Sunday presents a generational contrast and stylistic clash. Pocket-bound throwers like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers once dominated the league. Today, raw athleticism is almost a prerequisite for the position, and Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen possess it in droves. In rough outline, the foursome could form an evolutionary chart of NFL quarterback play.

The quarterbacks vying for the Super Bowl represent a broader shift. In these playoffs, nearly every quarterback fell into one of two categories: old and legendary or young and dynamic. For every Philip Rivers there was a Lamar Jackson, for every Ben Roethlisberger a Russell Wilson. The quarterbacks entering the league were chosen at a young age for their athletic ability as much as their passing, and they grew up in spread-out offenses that relied on both their passing and running ability. As older passers fade, they are being replaced by quarterbacks who play a different game.

Any attempt to draw a lesson from the remaining four quarterbacks demands a caveat. In their own ways, each is anomalous. Brady’s excellence in longevity is unseen in NFL history. In performance, accolades and achievement, no quarterback has started a career like Mahomes (whose status for Sunday remains uncertain as he goes through the NFL’s concussion protocol). Allen’s rapid improvement in accuracy has no precedent. Rodgers’s blend of quick release and arm strength makes him sui generis.

How Stephen Curry’s ‘organized chaos’ fuels his record-breaking career — and the Golden State Warriors’ rebuild

ESPN NBA, David Fleming from

Stephen Curry knows exactly how far he has left to go. Now that he’s on the verge of passing Reggie Miller for second place on the NBA’s career 3-pointer list — he’s nine away from passing the Pacers great — Curry needs just 422 more to eclipse Ray Allen to become the top 3-point shooter in history.

To get there, Curry, the two-time MVP, will have to travel across roughly 275 more miles of hardwood while relying upon a part of his game that has, until now, received little attention. It’s a singular skill that’s been vital to Curry’s iconic career, Golden State’s three NBA titles — and even the Warriors’ current restart: his exhaustive, acrobatic work away from the ball.

Emile Smith Rowe at Huddersfield: Key to Arsenal breakthrough explained

Sky Sports, Football, Adam Bate from

How six months in the Championship battling to avoid relegation with Huddersfield Town helped prepare youngster Emile Smith Rowe for his big breakthrough at Arsenal

Women’s hockey sees huge growth after 1st Olympics

Adirondack Daily Enterprise (NY), Rachel Sharples from

… The National Women’s Hockey League formed in 2015 with the aim to give female athletes a professional, paid stage for their sport, and it has continued to expand in terms of teams and fans since its beginning. Additionally, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association is composed of some of the top players in the world, and hosted a 2019-20 “Dream Gap Tour” that featured talent showcases and community engagement events in American and Canadian cities to promote professional women’s hockey.

And while the NHL has yet to formalize a relationship with any women’s hockey league, it has included top women in its All-Star Weekend the past few years, such as Kendall Coyne-Schofield’s groundbreaking participation in the faster skater competition in 2019.

Katie Million, the current Director of Women’s National Team Programs for USA Hockey, remarked how women’s hockey continues to grow as more people recognize the skill of female athletes.

Luke Day brings passion, honesty as Gamecocks strength coach

The State, Lou Bezjak from

To say Luke Day was persistent in trying to be South Carolina’s next strength and conditioning coach would be an understatement.

From the almost hourly text messages to head coach Shane Beamer, to the 44-page outline for his vision for the Gamecocks’ strength program, Day made it clear that he wanted to be at South Carolina. That was a quality Beamer sought and has hammered home over the last month since he took over.

A passionate approach helped Day stand out from the pack of applicants. Day was hired by USC after serving in the same position at Marshall University.

Developing Self-Belief in Your Participants

UK Coaching from

Self-belief is the belief that you will succeed in a specific task or experience. Ex-professional tennis player Marius Barnard explains that, as it affects your ability to perform tasks, it’s an important and valuable quality to have

Purdue-Fort Wayne women’s basketball program accused of toxic abuse

Indianapolis Star , Dana Hunsinger Benbow from

After each berating, Chelsea Driver said she would hide in an office in Hilliard Gates arena. As the head athletic trainer for Purdue-Fort Wayne’s women’s basketball team, Driver said she soothed herself by cutting after each of coach Niecee Nelson’s verbal tirades, making wounds so deep on her right hip that the team doctor would sometimes have to stitch them up.

She would try to rationalize the chaos around her, she said. This must just be the way Division I basketball is: filled with bullying and mental abuse. Athletes forced to play with injuries. Players who aren’t in shape shamed. Teammates mocked for depression and anxiety. Food and medical care withheld.

It was brutal.

Amazon’s Halo tests the limits of personal privacy, and offers a glimpse of the future of health

GeekWire, Todd Bishop from

A few weeks ago, I started wearing a new health band. I gave it permission to eavesdrop on my side of conversations — and it has lots of opinions about them.

“You had three phrases that sounded annoyed, irritated or disgusted,” the app reported one recent evening, recapping my daily interactions. Not only that, but I had “one phrase that sounded stubborn or condescending.”

Another feature invited me to strip down to my underwear for a picture.

“Find a well-lit area and try to avoid light from behind,” a voice from the app instructed me as it prepared to conduct a high-tech, 3D body scan. “Change into minimal clothing so the camera can see your body.”

Using VR Training to Boost Our Sense of Agency and Improve Motor Control

Tohoku University (Japan), Research News from

… Ownership and agency are highly integrated and are related to our motor control. However, separating our sense of body ownership from our sense of agency has long evaded researchers, making it difficult to ascertain whether both ownership and agency truly affect motor control.

Professor Kazumichi Matsumiya from the Graduate School of Information Sciences at Tohoku University could isolate these two senses by using VR. Participants viewed a computer-generated hand, and Matsumiya independently measured their sense of ownership and agency over the hand.

Premier League clubs agree to trial concussion substitutes

Yahoo News Canada, The Canadian Press from

Concussion substitutes will be trialled in the Premier League in response to mounting concern over head injuries, clubs agreed Wednesday.

Teams will be allowed to make up to two additional substitutions for players with suspected or confirmed concussion.

The trial will begin once the league resolves with FIFA and football’s global lawmaking body, IFAB, how to deal with private medical information from players.

Working relationship between medical and sport science departments in football – An explorative study into English and German elite youth academies

Sport Performance & Science Reports, Luke Arenas and Anton Blessing from

Headline The predominant aim of elite youth football academies isto develop players for the first team or at least generate income through the sale of marketable assets (1). The UEFA introduced guidelines for European football clubs, which impose minimum requirements for a club ́s infrastructure, which lead to similar organizational structures across Europe (2). Thereby the three leading sectors of coaching, medical surveilance and sport science play a predominant role. In this con-text sports medicine evolved to a scientific discipline, which promotes an interdisciplinary commitment to the athlete (3).Nancarrow et al. (2013) provide a framework for quantifying interdisciplinary work by identifying ten characteristics and themes.

Can’t Measure Heart? N.F.L. Teams Are Trying

The New York Times, Bill Pennington from

Championships can be won and lost when players’ competitive fire kicks in and they exhibit faster-than-normal speed to make a crucial catch or chase down a tackle.

‘Our futures are at stake’: sport’s climate crisis weakness and how to change it

The Guardian, Sportblog, Jonathan Overend from

… making the new documentary series Emergency on Planet Sport has opened my eyes to the scale and urgency of the challenge. As Steve Isaac, the sustainability director of the R&A, says: “My main concern is the lack of recognition of golf clubs and sports clubs in general about what’s coming our way. Unless you’re aware of that, how can you prepare?”

We need to present this conversation in more stark terms. Some links golf courses, for example, face an existential threat not in the future, but now. Before lockdown I visited Montrose, on the east coast of Scotland, to witness first-hand the voracious North Sea eating alive the fifth oldest course in the world. Only a small portion remains of the old 3rd tee, the rest is on the beach in morbid clumps of turf. A path, connecting tee with fairway, simply disappears off the cliff face. They’re losing two metres of coastline a year. The scale of erosion really shook me.

Making Sense Of: Athlete-Centered Sports

Don Norman, a cognitive science professor at the University of California-San Diego, wrote a book 20+ years ago called The Design of Everyday Things. His great insight, that in order to make something useful it helps (a lot) to understand how people use things, popularized an idea called “user-centered design” that’s now also referred to as “human-centered design.” The idea became a cornerstone of technology development, as new digital systems (and their businesses) sought adoption (and profits). Offshoots naturally occurred: student-centered learning, citizen-centered government, and yes, athlete-centered sports.

Technology has benefited enormously from putting users/humans at the center of product developments. Minimum viable products excel at separating real users from other people who designers think might be users. Customers for sports technology products are often athlete-affiliated stakeholders like coaches, trainers or parents, and not athletes. It becomes a problem, not necessarily for how products are designed, but more often for how organizations are set up to function.

A story. In grad school I took a course in Educational Technology. It was project-based and my teammate felt like we weren’t getting our ideas across to the professor and our work (and grade) might suffer. I told her that our work was good, really good, and not to worry. Our professor, who made a point of explaining learner-centered design to us, wasn’t a learner-centered instructor, I told her. We found out next class that said professor was within earshot when I made my Emperor-has-no-clothes point. The professor apologized and the class became learner-centered. Not surprisingly the things I came to understand in that class remain foundational to how I think.

It’s 100% okay to make technology for coaches, trainers and parents in support of athletes, but don’t kid yourself into thinking that they are products that are designed for athletes. Act like that long enough and the delusion becomes organizationally toxic and publicly embarassing, like with the NCAA.

The process of becoming a lifelong athlete offers a continuous stream of physical, social and emotional benefits. There’s an ethical and collaborative commitment that’s necessary in order to help others toward and down that path. Health, safety and well-being, not wins or losses, are what lasts. The pandemic has raised all sorts of issues in youth sports about what athlete-centrism can and should be.

It’s important to understand that all of these -centered realms are collective, not individual behaviors. They only exist in relation to everybody else who’s also participating, which is a vast enterprise when it comes to sports. Collective behaviors are notoriously complex. Just recently robotics researchers figured out how a small school of robot fish could execute the same group behaviors displayed by real schools of fish. Clear mechanisms of communication and the right algorithms programmed into every fish did the trick, and not any kind of centralized process.

Thank you for reading. Please financially support the newsletter if you would like to see it continue. I am extremely grateful to the readers who have helped this year. Again, sincere thanks.

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