How much difference does the spiraling motion of a well-thrown football make on the distance of the throw (compared to wobbling, or end-over-end motion of the ball)? Think of a way to reproducibly produce the desired ball motion and launch it with a constant force to find out. (For more information on the physics, see Gay, 2004.)
When the punter is trying to hit the "coffin corner" (within the opposing team's 10-yard line), out of bounds, what is the best angle to kick the ball for correct distance and maximum "hang time?" (For more information on the physics involved, see: Gay, 2004, Chapters 4 and 5.)
This project can apply to soccer, hockey, baseball and many other sports. What is the effect of stopping the kick/shot/swing at the moment of impact vs. following through? Think of a way to measure the outcome in each case, and explain your results. (idea from Gardner, 2000, 83-85; for more information with regard to specific sports, see: Barr, 1990, 12-14; Gay, 2004, 142-144; Adair, 2002, 30.)
How high can you throw different types of balls, like a golf ball, a basketball, and a football? Would one of them go higher than the others? Do factors like mass, shape, and volume influence the final height? You can measure the approximate maximum height a thrown ball reaches by measuring the time it spends in the air.
To do this project, you'll need at least one ball and a helper with a stopwatch. Your helper should start timing just as you release the ball, and stop right when the ball…
Use a video camera to analyze the angle of lift with different clubs. Measure the distance the ball travels. Be sure to conduct a sufficient number of trials with each club so that your results are consistent. This can also be a great way to work on your swing! (Idea from Goodstein, 1999, 83-85.)
What makes a winning team? Getting all the best players? Good coaches? Good chemistry? This project will show you how you can use math to help you test your hypothesis about what makes a winning team.
The Pythagorean relationship is a fundamental one in sports: it correctly predicts the records of 98% of all teams. But in 2% of cases, it fails. Why does it fail? Find teams that deviated substantially from their expected Pythagorean record (this information is available for baseball teams…
Here's a project that will teach you about math as you follow some of your favorite players or teams. You'll be comparing day-to-day performance with long-term averages, and trying to determine if the "streaks" and "slumps" over shorter time periods are due to random chance or something else. When you've finished, you'll have a better understanding of some important concepts in statistical analysis and baseball.
If a player goes 0-for-20, does that mean anything? Using probability theory,…
If you have an air hockey table, you know that the puck floats on a thin cushion of air when the table is turned on. With little friction, the puck can travel very fast. How much lift force is created by the air? Add small amounts of weight to the puck and see when it no longer floats to measure the lift force. How many air holes (on average) support the puck? How much force is generated by each air hole? Will a puck with a larger surface area, supported by more air holes (on average),…
Many sports skills require quick reaction times: think of hitting a 95-mph fastball, returning a 100-mph tennis serve, or blocking a slapshot at the net in hockey. (The Experimental Procedure section below has one way to measure reaction time.) Is your right hand faster than your left? Can you improve your reaction time with practice? Do both hands improve if you only practice with one hand? Try relating your reaction time to real situations in your favorite sport. For example, calculate…
Have you ever seen a "Hail Mary" football pass, where the quarterback tries to throw the ball as far as possible to reach the end zone and score a touchdown? Or a last second game tying soccer goal from midfield? How far the ball will go does not just depend on how hard a player throws or kicks it; it also depends on the angle at which the player launches the ball. In this sports science project, you will investigate how launch angle affects the distance that a ball travels by filming…
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Average (6-10 days)
This science project requires a computer with internet access and a digital video camera with a tripod. See the Materials and Equipment list for details.
Low ($20 - $50)
Be sure to do this science project in an open area like an empty football field, where you will not hit people or buildings with the ball.
You can find this page online at: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/search.shtml?v=solt&pi=Sports_p027
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