Physics Of Football Essay

1152 words - 5 pages

A game enjoyed by millions of people each year isn’t just about scoring points and big hits; there is a strong scientific presence behind all of it. Physics plays a major role in the game of football because of the constant collisions between to players on every play of the game. Different parts of the game can be broken down into areas such as kinematics, projectile motion, Newton’s Laws, and torque.
Every time you see a tackle on the field you are witnessing Newton’s three laws of motion in action. Newton’s first law states that an object in motion stays in motion in a straight line at a constant velocity unless an unbalanced force acts upon it. In football we can see unbalanced forces whenever one player exerts a force on another and causes him to change his direction or speed. For example the object in this case would be the person who has the ball on offense, and the unbalanced force would be the defender who is coming from a different direction with a different velocity than the ball carrier. When a player receives a hit from an opposing player the player who gets hit has a natural resistance called inertia. Inertia is the resistance of any object to a change in motion. The mass of the player determines how much inertia a player has. More mass means more inertia. A player with more inertia is a lot harder to move of off his path than a player with less inertia. Newton’s second law states that if you have an object that has a mass and is accelerating it is equal to the force applied to it or, F=ma. This can be explained when the quarterback throws the ball or when the kicker kicks the ball. For the football itself to be accelerated a force must be applied. For example when a kicker goes and kicks a ball the kicking leg swings to build up the force necessary to launch the ball. The ball that is being kicked is at rest. The amount of force to move the ball is very miniscule, but to kick a ball fifty yards down field a kicker has to apply up to a ton of force during a short amount of time. This is called an impulse. This impulse determines how fast the ball will be when it is first kicked. Newton’s Third law of motion states that each action has an equal but opposite reaction. This applies when a defender is trying to stop the ball carrier advancing down field. An important aspect of this law is momentum, which in football can be explained by the mass of a player multiplied by his velocity. The more speed and momentum a defender has the easier it is to make a tackle. In every collision that you would see on a football field, Newton’s third law states that the total momentum between the players must be the same at the moment of impact and after the impact. This is called the conservation of momentum. This is demonstrated by watching the balls of a Newton’s Cradle go back and forth. In football outside forces such as sound or compression distort the conservation of momentum because energy is lost when two players collide. Some...

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