Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Science in Football

The fall classic of sports, football, is going full-on both north and south of the 49th parallel. Professionals in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and the National Football League (NFL) are back playing in stadiums all over Canada and the United States. High school students are also starting their new seasons. Without even knowing it or stepping into the classroom, the science of football is continuing to teach a multitude of lessons on physics.

Just throwing or punting a football includes the laws of physics, the quantitative science. The nature with which an athlete can adjust to their every changing sporting environment in a highly organized mental and physical way, is a reflection of their specific skill set and physical prowess. Seldom do they even realize how they are incorporating parts of physics into their game – acceleration, velocity, force and speed. Many factors of physics affect the movement of the football and thus how the athlete needs to respond in order to successfully kick, throw or catch the football. Some factors include:
  • The vertical direction of the ball once released by the hand due to the influence of gravity
  • The rotation of the football
  • The velocity or speed at which the ball leaves his foot
  • The angle of the kick

Given the number of collisions involved in the game of football, science is also incorporated in the way in which players displace their energy while negotiating themselves into and around each other. When two bodies try to occupy the same space at the same time, the force of that collision depends on the mass and speed of the bodies in motion. The faster the hit, the more force it generates.

So next time you are watching a football game, or coaching a football team, be sure to examine that while highly skilled players seem to make it all look so easy, imagine how many little scientific calculations need to occur in that endeavor.

For information on football in Canada, contact Football Canada and come check out what is in the SIRC Collection.

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