# Physics of Football

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Watching a weekend football game could be teaching you something

other than who threw the most passes or gained the most yards.

Football provides some great examples of the basic concepts of

physics! Physics is present in the flight of the ball, the motion of the

players, and the force of the tackles. This web page will show you

how physics applies to these areas of football.

What Exactly Is Physics and

What Does It Have to Do with Football?

When you throw a football across the yard to your friend, you are using physics. You make adjustments for all the factors, such as distance, wind and the weight of the ball. The farther away your friend is, the harder you have to throw the ball, or the steeper the angle of your throw. This adjustment is done in your head, and it's physics. Physics is the branch of science that deals with the physical world. The area of physics that is most relevant to football is mechanics, the study of motion and its causes. The three main categories of motion that apply to the game are:

* delivery of a football through the air (pass, punt, kickoff, field goal, extra point)

* runners on the field (backs, receivers, linemen)

* stopping runners on the field (tackling, blocking)

FLIGHT OF THE BALL

When the football travels through the air (long pass, punt, kickoff,

field goal), it always follows a curved, or parabolic, path because

the movement of the ball in the vertical direction is influenced by

the force of gravity As the ball travels up, gravity slows it down until

it stops briefly at its peak height, the ball then comes down, and

gravity accelerates it until it hits the ground. This...

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... the amount of force applied:

Less force is required farther out from the center of mass than

closer in. So, by tackling a runner low -- far from the center of

mass -- it takes less force to tackle him than if he were tackled

high. Also, if a runner is hit exactly at his center of mass, he will

not rotate, but instead will be driven in the direction of the tackle.

Similarly, coaches often advise linemen to stay low. This brings

their center of mass closer to the ground, so an opposing player,

no matter how low he goes, can only contact them near their

center of mass. This makes it difficult for an opposing player to

move them, because they will not rotate upon contact. This

technique is critical for a defensive lineman in defending his own

goal in the "red" zone, the last 10 yards before the goal line.