The Physics of Sports
3.9 (12 ratings)
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The Physics of Sports

A guide to the science behind sports: for coaches, teachers and all sports fans
3.9 (12 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
1,466 students enrolled
Last updated 8/2015
English
Price: Free
Includes:
  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Understand the science behind popular sports
  • Use physical principles to solve problems relating to the physics of sports
  • Use sport as a means of enhancing science classes
View Curriculum
Requirements
  • Students are required to have knowledge of basic, school level, maths
Description

Many of us, in one way or another, have some kind of a connection to sport. Some will be sports professionals, such as coaches and athletes, whereas others may just be casual spectators admiring the achievements of competitors. Like most things in life, those achievements are determined by scientific principles.

This course aims to provide an understanding of the physical mechanisms behind many popular sporting events.

Understand the Science driving Sporting Performance

  • Learn how speed and acceleration relate to sprinting
  • Understand how Newton's laws of motion determine the path of a football
  • Apply the principles of rotational motion to gymnastics, figure skating and diving
  • Use the principle of energy conversion for estimating the height achieved in the pole vault
  • Learn what the optimum launch angles are for the long jump and other sports projectiles
  • Apply basic aerodynamics principles to the javelin throw, ski jumping and swimming
  • Estimate the effect of wind speed, altitude, temperature and equipment on various sports

Based on my successful book, "An Introduction to the Physics of Sports"!

Contents and Overview

How are Newton's three laws connected to football, and various forms of energy to cycling? What is the relationship between figure skating pirouettes and rotational motion? Do basic aerodynamics concepts influence performance in ski jumping, and hydrodynamics mechanisms, the world records in swimming?

The aim of this course is to present the physical laws that affect various sports. With the help of simple simulations and graphs, it is easily appreciated that science defines the performance of athletes, whereas at the same time the student is introduced to basic physics concepts in a novel and pleasant way.

In the seven sessions of the course, the scientific principles and theory governing specific sports and the performance of athletes are presented. For example, the concepts of velocity and acceleration are analysed through the performance of the leading short-distance athlete, Usain Bolt and Newton's three fundamental laws of motion are portrayed in football and basketball.

The course includes 24 lectures with almost 2 hours of video content, links to numerous scientific articles of mine on sports physics and links to many videos of great sporting moments. At the end of each session a quiz is included to assess student understanding.

Who is the target audience?
  • This course is meant for coaches and athletes wanting to obtain a better understanding of the physical mechanisms affecting performance
  • For science teachers wishing to use sport to enhance their classes
  • For anyone with an interest in sport wishing to view it from a different perspective
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Curriculum For This Course
Expand All 24 Lectures Collapse All 24 Lectures 01:49:44
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Speed, acceleration and Usain Bolt
4 Lectures 17:21

After this lecture students will have an understanding of average and instantaneous speed having used Usain Bolt's split times as an example.

Average, instantaneous speed and Usain Bolt's split times
05:29

After this lecture students will have an understanding of velocity and acceleration, having used Usain Bolt's performance as an example.

Velocity and acceleration
04:01

After this lecture students will have an understanding of how to interpret kinematics graphs using a virtual race of Usain Bolt against an aircraft.

The race of the century: Usain Bolt vs aircraft
03:43

After this lecture students will obtain an understanding of the speed humans can achieve in relation to other animals, why we hear the pistol after we see the athletes start their race and of the performance of long distance runners.

Speed of animals, light, sound and long distance runners
04:08

Quiz for section 1
5 questions
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Newton playing football
4 Lectures 18:06

After this lecture students will have an understanding of Newton's three laws of motion having used football (soccer) as an example.

Newton's laws of motion and football
04:26

After this lecture students will have an idea of how scientists can use Newton's laws of motion to determine the path of a football.

Estimating the flight path of a football
05:19

After this lecture students will have an understanding og the concept of momentum, having used the bounce of a basketball as an example.

The concept of momentum and basketball bounce
03:41

After this lecture students will have an understanding of momentum conservation and the coefficient of restitution having used examples from ice hockey, basketball, golf, etc.

The principle of momentum conservation and the coefficient of restitution
04:40

Quiz for section 2
5 questions
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Pirouettes and rotational motion
4 Lectures 17:27

After this lecture students will have an understanding of angular speed, having used the discus throw as an example.

Angular speed and the discus throw
04:09

After this lecture students will have an understanding of centripetal force and how it applies to gymnastics, cycling, discus throwing, etc.

Centripetal force and gymnastics
04:34

After this lecture students will have an idea of how scientists can use the concepts of angular speed and centripetal force to simulate the motion of an athlete performing a giant circle in gymnastics.

Simulation of a giant circle in gymnastics
03:30

After this lecture students will have an understanding of the concepts of moment of inertia, angular momentum and conservation of angular momentum and how they affect figure skating and diving.

Moment of inertia and angular momentum in figure skating and diving
05:14

Quiz for section 3
5 questions
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High energy sports
3 Lectures 17:11

After this lecture students will have an understanding of mechanical work and power, having used examples from weightlifting and cycling.

Work and power in weightlifting and cycling
04:32

After this lecture students will be able to use the concept of mechanical energy conservation in sports, after having seeing it applied to the pole vault event.

Mechanical energy and the pole vault
07:36

After this lecture students will see how mechanical energy conservation can be applied to the Fosbury flop and to skydiving.

Mechanical energy, the Fosbury Flop and skydiving
05:03

Quiz for section 4
5 questions
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Various sports projectiles
3 Lectures 13:35

After this lecture students will obtain an understanding of parameters influencing the range of projectiles according to the idealised theory, using the shot put as an example.

Projectile physics and the shot put
04:59

After this lecture students will understand the effect of anatomy on sports projectiles such as the shot put and the long jump.

Effect of human anatomy on the shot put, long jump and Air Jordan
03:59

After this this lecture students will have an understanding of the parameters affecting the accuracy of sports projectiles with examples from basketball, tennis and football.

Projectile accuracy in basketball, tennis and football
04:37

Quiz for section 5
5 questions
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Aerodynamics in sports
3 Lectures 13:22

After this lecture students will have obtained an understanding of the drag force in sports.

The drag force
03:47

After this lecture students will have obtained an understanding of the lift and Magnus forces in sports.

The lift and Magnus forces
03:57

After this lecture students will have an understanding of the aerodynamic effects on sports such as ski jumping and the javelin and will also appreciate the basic concepts of hydrodynamics as they are applied to swimming.

Aerodynamics in sports examples and introduction to sports hydrodynamics
05:38

Quiz for section 6
5 questions
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Are all records the same?
3 Lectures 12:42

After this lecture students will have an understanding of the effect of wind speed on sprinting and throwing events.

The effect of wind speed on sprinting and throwing events
05:17

After this lecture students will have an understanding of the effect of altitude on sprinting events and the effect of temperature on cycling.

The effect of altitude and temperature on sprinting and cycling
04:19

After this lecture students will understand how the special design of swimsuits contributed to the great enhancement of the performance of swimmers.

The magic swimsuits
03:06

Quiz for section 7
5 questions
About the Instructor
Dr Vassilios McInnes Spathopoulos
3.9 Average rating
12 Reviews
1,466 Students
1 Course

I obtained my PhD from the University of Glasgow (UK) in Aeronautics and have extensive teaching experience at university level. I am passionate about writing and have authored numerous scientific articles and books. My research interests include the aerodynamics of sports balls and improving science education. I am a keen sports fan, stargazer and popular science writer, having authored books on the physics of sports, astronomy, and textbooks for aerospace engineering. My book, "An Introduction to the Physics of Sports", has been used as a recommended text for various university courses.