Applied Sports Science newsletter – February 17, 2021

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for February 17, 2021


In SheBelieves Cup, U.S. Soccer faced pandemic scheduling challenges

The Washington Post, Steven Goff from

… “We’ve realized we just need to be adaptable and know that, because the present and future are so uncertain, we have to prepare like we are playing in a really important game in the next week, two weeks, month, whatever it is,” forward Alex Morgan said.

International soccer returned in earnest this past fall, and although the pandemic was raging in the United States, the USSF was well into outlining plans for its own safe return.

The first step, led by USSF chief medical officer George Chiampas, was creating a 45-page manual specifying safety protocols and procedures to conduct training camps and matches during the pandemic.

Mewis: I want to win Olympic gold with my sister, Olympic Football Tournaments 2020 from

If there is one attribute, besides excellence, that has set the US women’s national team apart, it is steely self-assurance. They are the best in the world and, as individuals and a collective, the USWNT unabashedly bask in that hard-earned status.

Sam Mewis has more reason than most to walk with that swagger in her step. After all, in this peerless team, she stands as the pre-eminent performer, having recently been voted – by a handsome margin – US Soccer’s Female Player of the Year.

Mewis has excelled at club level, too, and on the lengthy, star-studded list of overseas imports into England’s WSL, few – if any – have matched the impact made by Manchester City’s ‘Tower of Power’.

But when coach Vlatko Andonovski describes this outstanding midfielder as “a true example of what the USWNT stands for”, it is not because she bears that hallmark of unshakeable self-confidence. Far from it.

How Olympic Athletes Are Preparing for the Uncertainties of the Tokyo Games

Conde Nast Traveler, Rachel Chang from

… This uncertainty is both an emotional and logistical challenge for Olympic athletes. “My current mindset is to not think too far ahead,” Gray says. “It is hard to predict what will happen, so I am going to train and get ready to make my Olympic team.” Each sport has its own qualification process to earn a spot on Team USA, so while some athletes already knew they were headed to Tokyo 2020 pre-pandemic, other sports hadn’t chosen named teams yet—the U.S Olympic Team Trials for wrestling, for example, will take place this April in Fort Worth.

Gray has been planning for the 2020 Olympics for 15 years, like most Olympians, who have long catered their training to the four-year cycle of the Games. When the pandemic caused the Tokyo Games to be delayed last summer, those plans had to change—now athletes have gotten used to staying nimble, all the while preparing for the Games to go on as planned despite constant calls for the Games to be canceled or postponed.

“Another delay of the Olympics would significantly change the training plan,” says track and field Olympian Kendell Williams. “Many athletes have waited five years now for another opportunity to represent their country on the biggest stage.” For now, she’s kept her “competitive spirits high” through American Track League meets.

The progression of Harvey Barnes: another rough diamond sparkling for Leicester City

FourFourTwo, Richard Jolly from

Harvey Barnes was reflecting upon Leicester’s victory over Liverpool and their growing habit of upsetting their supposed superiors. “This year we’ve been really good against the top teams,” he said on Saturday. He wasn’t wrong, but his use of the plural may have been a display of modesty. This year, he’s been really good against the top teams.

Barnes eviscerated Liverpool with his pace in Leicester’s late onslaught, winning the free kick for their first goal, scoring their third. He had tormented Chelsea with his speed in Frank Lampard’s final league game in charge. He had scored an equaliser against Manchester United on Boxing Day. He had exuded counter-attacking menace in the wins at Manchester City and Tottenham.

He has taken a seismic step forward.

On the move: Serena’s court coverage brings her near No. 24

Associated Press, Howard Fendrich from

Serena Williams agrees with everyone else that her footwork and movement are better these days than they’ve been for a bit — and that’s a big reason she’s closing in on what would be a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title.

Here’s what she wants to make clear, though, as a blockbuster Australian Open semifinal against Naomi Osaka approaches on Thursday: This is nothing new.

As much as Williams thrives with her best-in-the-game serves, superb returns and booming groundstrokes, her ability to cover the court has long been a staple of her success. Yes, it’s been below par — “the last two, three years,” in her coach’s estimation — but is once again an asset, thanks in part to finally getting past a problematic left Achilles.

How Philosophies Shape the Coaching Narrative

Breaking The Lines, Wepea Buntugu from

Currently sitting on a very decent lead at the top of the league is Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. An essential qualification, for no matter what scene the Spanish manager finds himself in, he is always cast as the main character. This campaign has been no different. A tough start to the season saw Pep’s side win just 3 of their opening 8 games, a run that included a surprise 5-2 loss to Brendan Rodgers’ Leicester City and an almost symbolic 2-0 to José Mourinho and Spurs.

The overwhelming consensus for Manchester City’s decline was that the very expensively assembled set of players was declining under Pep and could only be saved by another sizeable financial outlay. Guardiola had lost his players; his numerous tactical alterations left his group of players — who are otherwise very good at football — mentally exhausted. In other words, he was losing it.

The key part of all this is how much it is centred around Guardiola. The manner in which he has coached his sides in the past — with absolute control being the minimum he needs to deliver his grand ideas and philosophy of how the game should be played. He has done this and been successful at it for so long. Wherever he goes, the playing body is almost an auxiliary to him and his personality in terms of how they are portrayed.

Tuning the circadian clock, boosting rhythms may be key to future treatments and medicines

University of California-Irvine, UCI School of Medicine from

Subconsciously, our bodies keep time for us through an ancient means – the circadian clock. A new University of California, Irvine-led article reviews how the clock controls various aspects of homeostasis, and how organs coordinate their function over the course of a day.

“What is fascinating is that nearly every cell that makes up our organs has its own clock, and thus timing is a crucial aspect of biology,” said Kevin B. Koronowski, PhD, lead author and a postdoctoral fellow in Biological Chemistry at the UCI School of Medicine. “Understanding how daily timing is integrated with function across organs has implications for human health, as disruption of the clock and circadian rhythms can be both a cause and effect of diseases from diabetes to cancer.”

Running out of the gait: new wearable, mymo, helps with run shoe selection, Gary Roethenbaugh from

A new wearable tech offering – mymo – is designed to help runners find the right type of shoes. The device measures a runner’s gait and uses an algorithm to match their running style to the latest shoes on the market.

The idea was created by North East England based runner, Craig Downs, who said he became increasingly frustrated after getting injured because he was sold the wrong type of shoes for his training.

Garmin & myAir: Turning Physiological & Psychological Data into Personalized Nutrition

EIN Presswire, myAir from

Garmin Wearables and myAir foodtech research has found that myAir’s solution reduced 73% of participants’ stress and improved 84% of participants’ sleep quality.

myAir offers a solution that controls the number one silent killer in the world, Chronic Stress, through data-driven nutrition.
myAir develops research-backed botanical formulations, designed to deliver a specific stress-relief effect, and tailored to the consumer’s unique stress profile and cognitive needs.

New Skin Patch Brings Us Closer to Wearable, All-In-One Health Monitor

University of California-San Diego, UC San Diego News Center from

Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a soft, stretchy skin patch that can be worn on the neck to continuously track blood pressure and heart rate while measuring the wearer’s levels of glucose as well as lactate, alcohol or caffeine. It is the first wearable device that monitors cardiovascular signals and multiple biochemical levels in the human body at the same time.

“This type of wearable would be very helpful for people with underlying medical conditions to monitor their own health on a regular basis,” said Lu Yin, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student at UC San Diego and co-first author of the study published Feb. 15 in Nature Biomedical Engineering. “It would also serve as a great tool for remote patient monitoring, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when people are minimizing in-person visits to the clinic.”

From laboratory to roadside: Real-time assessment and monitoring of the aerobic threshold in endurance-typed sports

BJSM Blog from

Part of a wish list for an endurance athlete would include a simple way to determine their suitable low intensity training zone. Since spending large amounts of time training at low intensity has been shown to have beneficial effects on cardiac remodeling, future endurance performance as well as allow proper recovery from high intensity efforts, knowing it’s boundary limit would be quite helpful.

NCAA survey examines impact of COVID-19 on athletes in 2020

Sports Illustrated, Madeline Coleman from

The NCAA released its results from the Student-Athlete Well-Being Study on Tuesday, revealing that there is an increase in mental health battles among women and athletes of color in the NCAA.

The study examined the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the physical and mental well-being of college athletes during 2020 across all three divisions. Close to 25,000 athletes took the survey, representing all conferences across all divisions.

While athletes overall reported fewer sleep difficulties and lower levels of loneliness, loss, anger and sadness in the fall compared to the beginning of the pandemic, there were elevated rates of anxiety, hopelessness, mental exhaustion and feelings of depression across the board.

Some of the biggest mental health concerns for NCAA athletes include academic worries (43%), lack of access to sport (33%), COVID health concerns (31%) and financial worries (24%). A large number of athletes of color cited racism within the last month as negatively impacting their mental health.

Capturing Data on Ice

Bowdoin College, News from

When he was playing in goal for the Bowdoin hockey team back in the ’90s, Dave Lehanski ’96 often thought, “Why are there only two stats for goalies? Why just goals against average and save percentage?”

“There has to be a better way to look at goalkeeper action, given how no two shots are the same,” the economics major would say to himself. Two and a half decades later, Lehanski is at the helm of a pioneering project that uses technology to capture not only everything the goalie does, but pretty much everything that happens on a top-level hockey rink.

Lehanski is executive vice president for business development and innovation at the National Hockey League. This season the NHL rolled out its innovative puck and player tracking technology at all of its thirty-one arenas, after limited deployment last season during the playoffs.

For Lehanski, this is the culmination of more than eight years’ work designed to transform the hockey fan experience and provide coaches and team managers with a wealth of valuable new data.

baller2vec: A Multi-Entity Transformer For Multi-Agent Spatiotemporal Modeling

arXiv, Computer Science > Machine Learning, Michael A. Alcorn and Anh Nguyen from

Multi-agent spatiotemporal modeling is a challenging task from both an algorithmic design and computational complexity perspective. Recent work has explored the efficacy of traditional deep sequential models in this domain, but these architectures are slow and cumbersome to train, particularly as model size increases. Further, prior attempts to model interactions between agents across time have limitations, such as imposing an order on the agents, or making assumptions about their relationships. In this paper, we introduce baller2vec, a multi-entity generalization of the standard Transformer that, with minimal assumptions, can simultaneously and efficiently integrate information across entities and time. We test the effectiveness of baller2vec for multi-agent spatiotemporal modeling by training it to perform two different basketball-related tasks: (1) simultaneously forecasting the trajectories of all players on the court and (2) forecasting the trajectory of the ball. Not only does baller2vec learn to perform these tasks well, it also appears to “understand” the game of basketball, encoding idiosyncratic qualities of players in its embeddings, and performing basketball-relevant functions with its attention heads.

How Thomas Tuchel Stamped His Mark at Chelsea

Wyscout blog, Edward Stratmann from

Despite only being in charge of Chelsea for a handful of games, it’s been impressive how quickly Thomas Tuchel has stamped his mark on Chelsea since taking over from Frank Lampard.

Taking charge of an extremely talented squad full of world-class players all over the pitch, the tactically sophisticated German has gotten his message across rapidly and coherently, as Chelsea have played some quality football throughout his opening weeks in charge.

Wanting Chelsea to impose themselves on their opponents, Tuchel’s set up on the ball has been a mix between a 3-2-4-1, 3-4-2-1 and a 3-4-1-2, with the intent on dominating possession.

Although there’s only been a small sample size to work with, many interesting tactical concepts and strategies have already been evident during the former Paris Saint-Germain manager’s short tenure. Progressive, attack-minded and always looking for solutions to break down low blocks, which is what they’ve largely come up against, Chelsea have been successful so far.

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