Applied Sports Science newsletter – July 12, 2021

Applied Sports Science news articles, blog posts and research papers for July 12, 2021


Colorado Olympian Annie Kunz is aiming for gold at the Tokyo Olympics

Colorado Sun, Carol McKinley from

Just weeks before the Tokyo Olympics, the greatest female athlete you’ve probably never heard of shocked the track and field world by turning in the fifth-best heptathlon performance of all time at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon.

But only weeks before that, Colorado’s Annie Kunz, 28, sank to an emotional low point that had her questioning her decision to pursue her Olympic dream.

Chaotic months of pandemic-interrupted training had exacted a toll. Her long jump and javelin events weren’t clicking. She’d crashed into a hurdle and bruised a heel. She hadn’t put up an official score in the heptathlon — a two-day, seven-event medley — since the 2019 World Championships, and had been disqualified from a major event in Austria.

“Two weeks out from the trials, I was stressed out,” recalled Kunz, who grew up in the Denver suburbs, in a recent interview with The Colorado Sun. “I was a different Annie. I had put myself in a pressure cooker. I was trying to be too perfect. I mean, five years I had been working for this moment. I wasn’t in the right place.”

Ángel Di María once admitted that he sought out a psychologist to help him deal with the trauma of his performance in finals.

Twitter, AP Sports from

He overcame that stigma with the goal that gave Argentina a 1-0 victory over Brazil in the final of the Copa America.

Four Keys to Cole Hocker’s Breakout Track Season

PodiumRunner, Luke Webster from

… For Hocker’s high school coach Jim Nohl, the answer was low mileage. According to Hocker, he was only running 30 or so miles a week for most of high school, and cites this as one of the main reasons he was able to develop into the runner he is today.

“I didn’t get injured all four years of high school, and I don’t think that was by chance,” Hocker says. “It was because of our mileage…. our coach was cautious with our mileage and even believed that 60 miles a week, was way too much. His focus was on getting us to run at our desired college, and that required us to stay healthy.”

Appearance vs. USWNT Comes After Long Recovery for Kayla McCoy

Duke University, Athletics from

After a 10-month recovery process from a torn ACL in August of 2020, former Duke women’s soccer standout Kayla McCoy made her return to the pitch with the Jamaican National Team on June 13.

Her first action in a match came in the 60th minute against none other than the U.S. Women’s National Team, when Jamaica took on Team USA as part of the 2021 Summer Series. McCoy’s side did not earn the result it was looking for, falling 4-0, but the outcome played only a small role in what the night meant for the Blue Devil star. To McCoy, it was a moment to cherish – a culmination of the grueling rehab that she endured to get to that match.

“I think I felt like I was going to come on and just be frantic, and not have a chance to sink in and enjoy the moment,” McCoy said. “But there were definitely times where I was able to look around me and really take in this feeling of, ‘I’m on the field again after not playing in a really long time and I’m playing against one of, if not the best team in the world right now.’

Confessions of a washed-up Black swimmer

The Michigan Daily student newspaper, Jasmin Lee from

… Whenever I told my Black friends in high school that I was on the swim team, they would respond with something along the lines of, “Girl, I could never! I don’t even know how to swim, and I don’t want to mess up my hair.” As a young BIPOC swimmer, I was looking for role models to follow in swimming — a field dominated by white athletes in America — and that’s when I looked to social media. Instagram had introduced me to Lia Neal years before she became the first African-American and Asian-American swimmer to compete in the Olympics for the United States, but even then, I saw myself in Neal: a mixed-race athlete who aspired to greatness. Since I also come from a mixed-race background, Neal was my swimming idol and I wanted to break records just like her. At the same time, I learned about Stanford University swimming commit Simone Manuel, who would go on to be the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming. Seeing Neal and Manuel succeed in swimming made me believe I could, too, thrive as a competitive swimmer.

After a couple of years of swimming with Kwame, I realized swim practices were not challenging me as much as I wanted. If I wanted to get faster, I needed to make a change. As I entered high school, I decided to join a competitive club swim team with a tough coach who was known for molding champion swimmers.

How Coach Liz Mills Created a World First in Men’s Basketball

Hudl Blog, Alex Reid from

For Liz Mills, a coach in the male-dominated world of men’s elite basketball, making a strong first impression is everything. “In Africa, female coaches even on the women’s side of sport is something rare,” says Kenya’s head coach, who just happens to be the first woman to lead a men’s national team to a major FIBA continental tournament – AfroBasket 2021.

Despite her decade of experience coaching in Africa, the Australian admits some of Kenya’s players were nervous when she took the top job in February, “because none of them would have been coached by a woman before.” It made having an instant impact even more important.

“I made sure that I was really prepared for that first practice session,” she says. “I knew everybody’s names, their positions, what plays the team was running, the defensive schemes – and how I was going to change and improve the team.

E-peas targets wearable, medical and smart sensor products

New Electronics (UK), Neil Tyler from

E-peas has unveiled a new family of battery charger devices to address the need for streamlined power management solutions for energy harvesting hardware.

Biosensors boost from new organic semiconducting material

The Engineer (UK), from

According to researcher leaders KAUST, research effort is being put into novel types of biosensors that interact directly with the body to detect key biochemicals and serve as indicators of health and disease.

“For a sensor to be compatible with the body, we need to use soft organic materials with mechanical properties that match those of biological tissues,” said Rawad Hallani, a former research scientist in the KAUST team, who developed the polymer along with researchers at universities in the UK and US.

According to Hallani, the polymer is designed for use in organic electrochemical transistors (OECTs). For these types of devices, the polymer should allow specific ions and biochemical compounds to permeate into the polymer and dope it, which can modulate its electrochemical semiconducting properties. “The fluctuation in the electrochemical properties is what we are actually measuring as an output signal of the OECT,” he said in a statement.

Sports Nutrition Update: Microbes, Bones & Heat

Beginner Triathlete, Nancy Clark from

Do you know the bacteria in your gut can enhance running performance? Or the sports you play when you are a kid impact your bone health as an adult runner? Or your ability to run in the heat depends on how well you hydrate? At the annual sports nutrition conference hosted in March 2021 by SCAN (the sports nutrition practice group of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics;, the speakers offered updates on these topics of interest.

Simple, natural, no fuss: The Food that fuels Olympic marathon champions

BBC News, Visual Journalism Team from

The marathon is almost synonymous with the Olympics and has been part of the modern Games since their beginnings in 1896. Running 42.2 kilometres at speed is one of the ultimate endurance events, requiring athletes to burn up huge amounts of energy.

But how much exactly? And in an era of advanced sports science and nutrition, what are the foods that fuel the champions?

Let’s find out from two of the best, the current marathon record holders for men and women, Eliud Kipchoge and Brigid Kosgei, who both hail from Kenya.

We’ve been to meet them as they trained for the Tokyo Games and spied on their eating habits.

Mid-range jumpers could be the rage during NBA Finals

Associated Press, David Brandt from

While the 3-point shot has unquestionably changed the NBA game, during these finals the star of the show might be the mid-range jumper.

Yes, the regular old 2-point shot will get some love in this series.

Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton and Phoenix’s Devin Booker and Chris Paul all excel at 12-to 18-foot pullups, which is a lost art for many players who focus on 3-pointers or dunks.

“A lot of coaches’ and teams’ schemes, they want you to shoot threes and layups,” Middleton said. “That’s what a lot of teams expect you to do. But when you stop sometimes, they just don’t expect it. It gives you a clean look.

the midrange is having a moment

The F5 newsletter, Owen Phillips from

The shot making in the midrange by players like Chris Paul and Khris Middelton in this year’s playoffs has some people wondering, is the midrange back?

I wouldn’t go that far, but I do think it’s fair to ask if were in the midst of subtle change in the way playoff teams approach shot selection.

Quantifying Winning Basketball

Sports Info Solutions, Jake Loos from

… Unfortunately, the statistics available to us merely summarize possession-changing events and forsake the beauty of the how and why of each possession. The traditional box score measures only a subset of on-ball offensive plays – those leading to a shot, foul, or turnover – and omits all other on-ball plays, the actions of the players away from the ball, and almost the entirety of defense. While it’s fun to discuss shot charts and triple-doubles, we’re missing some massive pieces to the puzzle on why a particular team won the game, and which of those team’s players contributed the most to that win.

Thankfully, we have come a long way as a basketball community. So many talented people have furthered the public discourse through their written pieces, video, and podcasts. There are now better places to get in-depth, well-presented statistics[4]. But those sites still rely on box scores, play-by-plays, and, at best, basic Tracking stats[5]. There is still so much information missing.

NBA Playoffs Injuries Continue Trend, Marring Finals: Data Viz

Sportico, Lev Akabas from

It was a welcome sight for fans to see Giannis Antetokoumnpo on the floor for Game 1 of the NBA Finals; the Milwaukee Bucks’ star had hyperextended his knee and missed two games during the previous round. In a postseason marred by injuries, though, it only seemed fitting that the Bucks and Suns were unable to make it even 10 minutes unscathed, as Suns forward Dario Šarić tore his ACL going for a rebound in the first quarter.

Ten All-Stars have missed a playoff game in 2021, twice as many as the next highest year since 2000, leaving more teams than ever envisioning “what if” scenarios. The Brooklyn Nets, for example, were a centimeter away from knocking Milwaukee out in Game 7, even though Kyrie Irving and James Harden each missed three games of that series.

Female Olympic athletes’ sponsorship value soars in ‘unique window of equality’

Twitter, Dr. Nancy Lough from

Nielsen analysis shows sm posts from female athletes led to 83% increase in engagements for partners. Of top 15 men, posts increased but engagement for partners decreased.

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