Applied Sports Science newsletter – July 22, 2021

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


Jack Eichel’s neck surgery figures into his trade status. Here’s why

The Buffalo News from

… Trade talk has focused on the boatload of players the Sabres should command in a trade for Eichel.

Far less has been made of this certainty: Unless the herniated disc in Eichel’s neck has completely healed, the star player, the team where he lands and its fans may have to deal with an injury that could keep him sidelined for more than half a year.

The Sabres captain spent the spring advocating for disc-replacement surgery that has never been performed on an NHL player. Neither Eichel, his agent nor the Sabres have provided an update about how his rehab has gone.

“This is an unfortunate situation, but not an uncommon situation with athletes,” said Dr. Laszlo L. Mechtler, a neurologist and medical director of Dent Neurologic Institute In Amherst. “The approach to this should be dictated not by agents, patients or athletes, but by physicians who are specializing in this.”

For Carli Lloyd, other older Olympians, age is just a number

Associated Press, Anne M. Peterson from

Much has been made about Carli Lloyd’s age. The American forward will be — gasp! — 39 when the Olympics soccer tournament kicks off.

But for all the focus on Lloyd, she’s not even going to be the oldest athlete competing in Tokyo.

Meet Formiga, who is a seemingly ageless 43-year-old midfielder for Brazil. She’s one of a number of Olympians who are proving that, yep, age is just a number.

“You know, I literally haven’t switched off for 17, 18 years. It’s been hard-core craziness. I’m sure my husband and my family are going to be excited when I’m done playing because I’ll actually get to do things,” said Lloyd, who is in her fourth Olympics.

USA women’s Slabe: “We got a little bit better and I think we’re ready for Tokyo”

Volleyball magazine, Lee Feinswog from

… “We’re happy that we got out of it healthy. We left [Volleyball Nations League] healthier than we entered, so props to our medical team and strength-and-conditioning coaches,” said Luka Slabe, not only the team’s defensive coordinator and blocking coach, but also the head coach at NC State.

“There were quite a few players who came back from Europe (this past spring) unable to practice and not even compete. So throughout the VNL we got to figure that out and, of course, you want to all the athletes to get equal opportunities to compete and show what they have. With our depth and everything that USA Volleyball has, that’s extremely hard to do.

“We had all these different options and lineups. It was incredibly tough to do that.”

Nissan launches brain function development program to enhance racing driver performance

Automotive World, News Releases from

Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. today launched an innovative program focused on brain function and anatomy research, training and development for its Formula E drivers Sebastien Buemi and Oliver Rowland.

The program, called Nissan Brain to Performance, uses advanced brain imaging and analysis to determine the anatomical specifics of high performance, professional drivers. The program aims to develop bespoke, optimized training to enhance the brain functions and anatomy related to driving and racing.

Meet the rejuvenated Boston College quarterback ‘every [NFL] scout is buzzing about’

Yahoo Sports, Pete Thamel from

… [Frank] Cignetti watched film for more than three hours with Jurkovec, explaining exactly how his more than a decade coaching players like Aaron Rodgers, Eli Manning and Sam Bradford in the NFL would expedite Jurkovec’s development. They went over nuances like the quarterback evaluation system Cignetti learned from Mike McCarthy while working as the Packers’ quarterbacks coach and how BC receivers run routes that count “revolutions on the outside leg,” which tie into the quarterbacks’ footwork in five-step and seven-step drops.

The comfort level dove deeper than the Pittsburgh chatter, as Jurkovec quickly got the feeling that the coaches were invested in his evolution as a quarterback. Jurkovec ended up feeling so comfortable that he even tried oysters for the first time at Legal Seafood Harborside.

‘A physical and psychological nightmare’ – the horrors of pre-season

BBC Sport, Sean Cole from

Pre-season training used to be brutal. It was often designed to be as unpleasant as possible. Players were pushed to their limits and beyond, both mentally and physically.

That approach is now considered outdated and counter-productive. Where once pre-season was a means to impose discipline and work off summer excesses, players are now expected to return in good condition, ready to pick up where they left off. That was not always the case.

“A dramatic change came around with sports science people getting involved,” says former Aston Villa and Birmingham City defender Liam Ridgewell. “The first week nowadays is very light. They don’t want too many injuries.

Advice to Aspiring Sports Analytics Professionals

R-blogger, RStudio blog, Mitch Tanney from

… Time zone differences create scheduling challenges, but there are essentially no boundaries thanks to modern technology. Look no further than the 2020 NFL Big Data Bowl as Philipp Singer and Dmitry Gordeev, two data scientists based in Austria, joined forces to win the Open Kaggle Competition. As a former small college football player who competed for roster spots and playing time with players from Power 5 schools, I always used to tell myself “If you can play, then you can play. Where you come from does not and should not matter.” The same concept applies here. If you are willing and talented as a data scientist to compete and perform well in open competitions, where you come from does not and should not matter.

Additionally, as I mentioned previously, I am extremely fortunate to work with data science teams across the globe. I am approaching the end of month 4 at RStudio, but I have already connected with data science teams on 4 continents. One of my early takeaways from my time at RStudio is that good data science work is good data science work regardless of the industry. Therefore, do not be discouraged if your day job finds you analyzing data that is completely unrelated to sports. Leverage the data skills you develop outside of sports to solve meaningful problems in sports.

A new athlete wellness trend just dropped – Blood flow restriction is the new cupping for this Olympics

The Verge, Nicole Wetsman from

The strategy was first developed in 1966 by Japanese powerlifter Yoshiaki Sato, but it’s only just caught on with high-profile athletes in the past few years. American swimmer Michael Andrew and Galen Rupp, an American distance runner, are both using blood flow restriction during Olympic training.

Like any good performance-enhancing trend, there’s still only limited evidence showing if or how it works. Some studies show that athletes like rugby, football, and netball players increased their muscle strength and endurance after training with blood flow restriction for a few weeks. It could boost strength by increasing stress on muscle cells, which promotes muscle development, researchers speculate. But there have only been a few research studies on the technique. “Only 9 studies exist on this topic, making concrete conclusions tentative,” wrote the authors of one 2015 review.

That’s been the case for other tools, like cupping and Kinesio tape, which athletes have stretched across joints to try to avoid injuries or prevent pain. The benefits of strategies like these are hard to prove, and athletes tend to adopt them based on anecdotal evidence from peers or if they feel like they help — regardless of concrete evidence.

UT Dallas scientists develop early-stage sweat sensor to monitor COVID immune response

Dallas Morning News, Alejandra Canales from

During a health emergency, doctors need a biological sample — blood, urine or tissue — to glimpse a person’s health status. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors and nurses scrambled to find the best treatment for a disease with no cure.

But what if clinicians could instead look to sweat to guide their decisions?

Scientists at the University of Texas at Dallas have developed a wearable sensor that can monitor the body’s immune response to COVID and other infections by way of molecules present in sweat.

In their preliminary findings recently published in Bioengineering & Translational Medicine, the researchers showed that this device could make extremely precise measurements and help identify people who were sick.

How Hoffenheim are helping to democratise tracking data

Training Ground Guru, Simon Austin from

Hoffenheim have been described as the most innovative team in football.

They’re the club behind the Videowall, Footbonaut Hall and Helix Arena and have a research lab located right next to their training ground at the Dietmar Hope Sports Park.

One of their big focuses now is trying to democratise the use of tracking data, so it can be used throughout their entire club. That means in training and in matches, and for both the youth and senior teams.

“For us, it is very important to take a holistic view of performance,” explains Sascha Hartel (pictured below), who has been Hoffenheim’s Head of Performance Diagnostics and Science since 2016.

There is no ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of thermal indices: the importance of considering ‘why?’ and ‘for whom?’ when modelling heat stress in sport

British Journal of Sports Medicine from

Combining extreme heat with exercise increases the risks of exertional heat illness, impairs performance and imposes thermoregulatory strain on athletes. What is the best way to monitor heat stress and strain in athletes? Wet bulb globe temperature (WBGT)—a direct environmental measure—coupled with activity modification, has long been used in sports, occupational safety and the military. Because of its longevity, it has well-known benefits (eg, simple to calculate/measure; integrates multiple weather variables) and limitations (eg, underestimation of stress of restricted evaporation; poor incorporation of clothing/adjustment factors). Practical decisions, such as cancelling an event or implementing countermeasures for heat, depend not only on the environmental conditions, but on the nature and length of the activity itself (eg, marathon vs beach volleyball), clothing and athlete anatomical characteristics.

In recent decades, additional heat metrics that are derived from human energy balance models (eg, the physiological equivalent temperature (PET) and the Universal Thermal Climate Index (UTCI)) have been introduced and increasingly applied, even for sporting events. These more comprehensive heat indices are designed to provide more meteorologically dynamic outputs to predict heat stress. However, they have their own limitations for sporting applications due to simplified and non-modifiable physiological/behavioural factors that are not sport-specific in their available formats.

Does our field of sport-related environmental physiology need to expand the arsenal of heat monitoring tools–both measurements and models–beyond indices that have been simplified for general applications? This editorial calls attention to the considerations and the potential misuse of thermal indices applied in outdoor sport settings.

Is it time to mandate mouthguards use in all contact sports?

BJSM Blog from

Injury prevention vs Performance – Do mouthguards prevent injury or are they just an unnecessary burden to aerobic performance?

Since the design of the first mouthguards in the late 1890’s, they have been commonly used as a way to prevent oro-facial injuries and protect athletes during contact sports. Although widely available, there are large variations in how commonly they are worn across different sports and this is dependent on athletes’ preferences, such as how well they fit and if they restrict performance. We explore current attitudes towards athletes wearing mouthguards and explore whether now is the time to consider mandating their use in at risk sports to promote athlete health.

Wrapping injured athletes in cotton wool to protect them from injury does more harm, according to this interesting paper by @TimGabbett . Athletes with high training loads have fewer injuries.

Twitter, VX Sport, Tim Gabbet from

Sounders roster thin going into Thursday’s match at Austin FC

The Seattle Times, Jayda Evans from

… “It took us a while to come to a starting lineup,” [Brian] Schmetzer said Wednesday during a videoconference call with media. The discussion involved the medical staff as the Sounders are in the midst of a three-match week. Seattle will host Sporting Kansas City on Sunday.

Schmetzer said to create the lineup sports science and tactics were weighed against the capabilities of the additional young players expected to be part of the game-day roster. A small positive is the Tacoma Defiance players the Sounders have called on as part of the league’s hardship signings are familiar with the first-team system.

“The players understand what the general tactics are,” Schmetzer said. “Obviously the level of competition that they would face if they got in the game is a little higher, so you try and simplify the game for the young kids.

The Tokyo Olympics will be the Games of all mothers

The Conversation, Jane Thornton and Margie Davenport from

In March, the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee announced that the Tokyo Games would be the “first gender-balanced Olympic Games in history.”

The gender gap in sport is well-established. Men have historically dominated elite sport for centuries, but thanks in part to the advocacy of organizations like the IOC Women in Sport Commission, global female representation in sport is greater than ever.

Central to this movement is the increased visibility of elite female athletes competing and succeeding at the Olympic Games, inspiring future female Olympians across the globe. Yet, major barriers still remain, particularly those faced by athletes who are mothers.

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