Applied Sports Science newsletter – February 18, 2021

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for February 18, 2021


USA Basketball called Isaiah Thomas, who hopes NBA does next

Associated Press, Tim Reynolds from

There was a day last spring when Isaiah Thomas noticed he could lift his leg without any pain. That hadn’t happened in years.

This weekend, he plans to show the NBA what that means for his game.

More than a year removed from his last NBA appearance, and nine months after surgery that he says fixed a bone-on-bone condition in his right hip, Thomas has games to play. The two-time All-Star is suiting up with USA Basketball for a pair of FIBA AmeriCup qualifying games in San Juan, Puerto Rico — and Thomas expects NBA teams to be watching.

“My ultimate goal is to play in the NBA as soon as possible,” Thomas, 32, told The Associated Press. “This allows me to compete against other professionals, represent my country at the same time — which is an honor and a privilege — and ultimately show NBA teams that I’m back to myself and I’m 100% healthy. That’s why I chose to come here. When Team USA brought it to me, it was a no-brainer.”

Maturity and security have led to a more vocal Crystal Dunn

Associated Press, Anne M. Peterson from

Crystal Dunn is not afraid to use her voice anymore.

The 28-year-old defender has grown more confident in her abilities and her status on the U.S. women’s national team. She’s also become empowered in her activism as a Black woman.

So much so that she has even proclaimed herself the “New Crystal Dunn.”

“I think over the years I’ve realized I believed in myself more. I felt like I was a consistent and valuable player on this team. And I think with that confidence, it made me feel like I do have that responsibility to carry others and not just look at myself as, ‘Hey, I’m just here to survive.’ But I’m really here to thrive and I’m really here to represent Black women in this sport,” she said. “And I’m also here to shine light on the idea that even though this space was not necessarily always created for us, we can survive here and we can also be elite.”

Getting to the NBA Is Hard, but Getting Back May Be Even Harder

The Ringer, Jordan Teicher from

Some top picks never make it to a second contract. But former first-rounders Nik Stauskas, Justin Patton, and Sam Dekker aren’t giving up hope of a return, even if it means changing their games to get there.

Vines sees huge opportunities moving into 2021 with Colorado, U-23s, and the USMNT

American Soccer Now, Brian Sciaretta from

The past two seasons have seen a lot of impressive young American players in MLS break through and take huge strides in their career. Left back Sam Vines had a strong 2020 but is aiming high for both club and country in 2021. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta spoke at length with the Colorado Springs native about his ambitions and potential.

Why even try? Using brain science to answer one of life’s biggest questions

Brown University, News from Brown from

… New research from a team of Brown University researchers, published on Monday, Feb. 15 in Nature Communications, shows that the amount of mental effort invested in a task is influenced not just by what a person stands to gain, but also the degree to which that outcome will depend on their performance. In three related experiments, the researchers demonstrated that participants performed better on tasks when there was a bigger potential prize and when they felt like their efforts made a difference in earning that prize.

Importantly, the study also identified the neural activity associated with this kind of decision process. The findings can be used to explain motivation as well as to figure out what’s going on when someone is lacking in it, the researchers say.

“This study sheds light on the neural circuits that drive motivation, which in turn help us learn more about why people may have trouble getting motivated, whether it be situational or chronic and due to depression or other disorders,” said Amitai Shenhav.

Are You Assessing Skill Correctly?

TrackVU, Dr. Nathan Bonney from

The current trend in team sport is to assess skill in an isolated manner. Whilst such assessments can be of use, they aren’t often representative of the demands of competition. However, simply observing match play may not be the answer, with factors such as weather, opposition, game strategy and playing position making it difficult to compare between players and teams with regards to skilled performance. Therefore, depending upon the circumstances and the objective of the assessment, a continuum of skill assessments could be more appropriate to consider.

To help coaches identify the appropriate skill assessment, we developed a team sport continuum called the 5-Level Performance Assessment Model (Figure 1). This model orders skill assessments along a performance continuum to assist practitioners when assessing or developing new tasks of technical game based skill. As the tests apply notational analysis (Foundation Stone) and move from Level-1 to Level-5, there is a step-wise progression in the performance demands and integration of the technical, tactical, physical and psychological components to more closely represent match play conditions.

Improving sleep for recovery

Asker Jeukendrup, My Sports Science blog from

Sleep is essential for recovery of the brain and body, yet many athletes have problems falling asleep or may wake up during the night, then wake up in the morning not well rested.

A new critical review was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine this week, in which a number of experts evaluate the evidence on sleep for athletes. Here is an interview with 2 of those authors: Dr Shona Halson and Prof Neil Walsh.

Thigh-worn accelerometry for measuring movement and posture across the 24-hour cycle: a scoping review and expert statement

BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine journal from

Introduction The Prospective Physical Activity Sitting and Sleep consortium (ProPASS) is an international collaboration platform committed to harmonise thigh-worn accelerometry data. The aim of this paper is to (1) outline observational thigh-worn accelerometry studies and (2) summarise key strategic directions arising from the inaugural ProPASS meeting.

Methods (1) We performed a systematic scoping review for observational studies of thigh-worn triaxial accelerometers in free-living adults (n≥100, 24 hours monitoring protocols). (2)Attendees of the inaugural ProPASS meeting were sent a survey focused on areas related to developing ProPASS: important terminology (Q1); accelerometry constructs (Q2); advantages and distinct contribution of the consortium (Q3); data pooling and harmonisation (Q4); data access and sharing (Q5 and Q6).

Results (1) Eighty eligible articles were identified (22 primary studies; n~17 685). The accelerometers used most often were the ActivPAL3 and ActiGraph GT3X. The most commonly collected health outcomes were cardiometabolic and musculoskeletal. (2) None of the survey questions elicited the predefined 60% agreement. Survey responses recommended that ProPASS: use the term physical behaviour or movement behaviour rather than ‘physical activity’ for the data we are collecting (Q1); make only minor changes to ProPASS’s accelerometry construct (Q2); prioritise developing standardised protocols/tools (Q4); facilitate flexible methods of data sharing and access (Q5 and Q6).

Conclusions Thigh-worn accelerometry is an emerging method of capturing movement and posture across the 24 hours cycle. In 2020, the literature is limited to 22 primary studies from high-income western countries. This work identified ProPASS’s strategic directions—indicating areas where ProPASS can most benefit the field of research: use of clear terminology, refinement of the measured construct, standardised protocols/tools and flexible data sharing. [full text]

Compressing Wearable Data: the Discrete Wavelet Transform

Medium, Digital Biomarker Discovery, Juseong (Joe) Kim from

Less is more. The limited memory and battery power of wearables necessitates rapid and efficient transmission of data. Reducing the size of transmitted data via compression algorithms, including run-length encoding and Huffman encoding, is one way to minimize power consumption and facilitate storage of ever-accumulating amounts of data.

This lossy method of wearable data compression involves six major steps — the discrete wavelet transform, thresholding, scaling, quantization, combination, and compression — and was tested on five types of data — accelerometry (ACC), electrocardiogram (ECG), electrodermal activity (EDA), photoplethysmogram (PPG), and temperature (TEMP).

Its effectiveness was measured by calculating the compression ratio (CR) and percent root-mean-square difference (PRD). Powerful compression algorithms maximize CR and minimize PRD (i.e. reduce file size and deviation from original data) by attaining the optimal trade-off between these two quantities. This is one method developed for the Biosignal Data Compression Toolbox. You can read the full publication here.

Under Armour Eliminates Rubber Outsole With New Cushioning Tech For Running, Stephen Curry

Forbes, Tim Newcomb from

The moment NBA star Stephen Curry felt the grippy nature of the new Flow cushioning material from Under Armour, he knew he wanted it for his signature sneaker line. So, even as Under Armour unveils the UA Flow Velociti Wind, a running shoe with an all-in-one cushioning-plus-outsole design that eliminates the rubber outsole and combines it with a new patented upper technology, the brand has already shown the versatility of its new Flow material in basketball’s Curry Flow 8.

“The pie in the sky goal was what Flow now is,” says Tom Luedecke, Under Armour’s creative director of footwear innovation. “We still call it a unicorn foam because it was an audacious ask for it do everything that it does.”

Do Sweat It! Wearable Microfluidic Sensor to Measure Lactate Concentration in Real Time

Tokyo University of Science, Media Relations from

Lactate, a compound present in sweat, is an important biomarker to quantify during exercise. However, available wearable sensors can cause skin irritation, which calls for the use of different materials. In a recent study, scientists at Tokyo University of Science have developed a soft and nonirritating microfluidic sensor for the real-time measurement of lactate concentration in sweat. This wearable device will help monitor the state of the body during intense physical exercise or work.

Injury Rates in Men’s Professional Soccer Trending Down

Orthopedics This Week, Tracey Romero from

Injury incidence fell gradually over an 18-year period, a new study finds.

In the study, “Injury rates decreased in men’s professional football: an 18-year prospective cohort study of almost 12,000 injuries sustained during 1.8 million hours of play,” published February 05, 2021 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers analyzed the 18-season time-trends in injury rates among male professional European football players.

The Union of European Football Association Elite Club Injury Study included 3,302 players, 49 teams, and 19 countries. The players were followed from 2000-2001 through 2018-2019.

Returning to Sports or Exercise After Recovering From COVID-19

Cleveland Clinic, Health Essentials from

Whether you’re a student athlete or active adult who has recovered from COVID-19, you’re likely itching to get back on the field or resume your exercise routine. Or, if you don’t have symptoms or if your illness is mild, you might be wondering what activities you can do while you wait out the infection.

Sports medicine physician Marie Schaefer, MD, discusses the latest recommendations and guidelines for a safe return to fitness after COVID-19.

Vitamin D Restores Skeletal Muscle Cell Remodeling and Myogenic Program: Potential Impact on Human Health

International Journal of Molecular Sciences from

Skeletal muscle cells, albeit classified as vitamin D receptor (VDR)-poor cells, are finely controlled by vitamin D through genomic and non-genomic mechanisms. Skeletal muscle constantly undergoes cell remodeling, a complex system under multilevel regulation, mainly orchestrated by the satellite niche in response to a variety of stimuli. Cell remodeling is not limited to satisfy reparative and hypertrophic needs, but, through myocyte transcriptome/proteome renewal, it warrants the adaptations necessary to maintain tissue integrity. While vitamin D insufficiency promotes cell maladaptation, restoring vitamin D levels can correct/enhance the myogenic program. Hence, vitamin D fortified foods or supplementation potentially represents the desired approach to limit or avoid muscle wasting and ameliorate health. Nevertheless, consensus on protocols for vitamin D measurement and supplementation is still lacking, due to the high variability of lab tests and of the levels required in different contexts (i.e., age, sex, heath status, lifestyle). This review aims to describe how vitamin D can orchestrate skeletal muscle cell remodeling and myogenic programming, after reviewing the main processes and cell populations involved in this important process, whose correct progress highly impacts on human health. Topics on vitamin D optimal levels, supplementation and blood determination, which are still under debate, will be addressed. [full text]

Kitman Labs Performance Intelligence Research Initiative: A Survey to bring research on the field

Sport Performance & Science Reports; Martin Buchheit, Derek McHugh, Stephen Smith from

… The aim of the present manuscript is to describe the main results of an online survey conducted on a large sample of elite sports practitioners via the Kitman Labs Performance Intelligence ResearchInitiative. We believe that the results canhelp researchers to (re)define their future topic(s) of investigation, and hopefully make a greater impact on the field as a consequence.

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