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The Physics Of Football Essay

1226 words - 5 pages

The Physics of Football

There is no question that everything people do in their lives involves physics. This is true from the way we communicate to the way that we fight wars. In some cases the influence of the laws of physics on our world are extremely apparent, such as in sports. Basketball, hockey, baseball and even cricket involve physics. From the most basic motions players perform in the game, to different plays designed by coaches, physics touches it all. These appearances of physics in the games that we play are sometimes so subtle we don’t even notice them. In other cases however, the impact of physics can be heard across the stadium as Jerome “The Bus” Bettis barrels his way into the endzone. The influences of physics on the game of football are probably more apparent than in any other sport. By examining these effects in football, such as the motion of players, the motion of the ball, the sounds and sights of the game, and the excruciatingly painful collisions, it will be evident that the laws of physics have played a primary role in the way the game has developed.

The players are initially standing still until the play starts then the players accelerate. When a player decides to change direction they will apply a force to the ground with there foot to help propel them in a different direction, there is another force that plays a very important part and that is friction. If there is less friction then the player will have a harder time changing direction. Newton’s third law of motion also comes into play in which equal and opposite forces help him accelerate (Craig Freudenrich 1998). The less friction caused by the playing field, the more easily the player is able to accelerate, decelerate, and alter his course. This is why many players prefer to play on different surfaces such as artificial turf, real grass or a composite surface combining the two. For instance a wide receiver whose game depends greatly on being able to accelerate quickly will prefer to play on an artificial surface with less friction. When a player gets in the open field he may be capable of reaching his maximum momentum. When this player's momentum is suddenly changed either with a great tackle or one hell of a hit the laws of physics concerning collisions, both elastic and inelastic, come into play.

An elastic collision is a collision in which kinetic energy is conserved, such as when a running back is hit so hard by the opposing team’s linebacker on a lead-draw play up the middle that the ball is forced out of his arms. The fumbled ball then hits the turf and because of the elasticity of the collision it bounces back up. Unlike an elastic collision, an inelastic collision does not conserve the kinetic energy of the colliding objects (Kirkpatrick & Wheeler 134). An example of an inelastic collision might be when a player catches the ball (if he catches the ball) and the momentum of the ball is completely stopped. However it is important to realize in...

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