UCSB Science Line
Sponge Spicules Nerve Cells Galaxy Abalone Shell Nickel Succinate X-ray Lens Lupine
UCSB Science Line
How it Works
Ask a Question
Search Topics
Our Scientists
Science Links
Contact Information
How does the shape of football affect the distance the ball travels?
Question Date: 2012-10-20
Answer 1:

The shape of any object will change how far it flies through the air. This is because the air pushes on the object and slows it down. If you've ever had the wind in your face, tried walking on a windy day, or tried riding your bike, you'll know that air pushes against you and slows you down. The bigger an object is, the more the air will slow it down, because the object has to push the air out of its way. This drag caused by air is very important for all flight, and engineers spend a lot of time optimizing the flow of air around planes and cars.

Even the way the football affects how it flies. Any professional football player will throw a football with the pointy end first, and puts a spin on it. These actions keep the long axis of the ball in the direction of flight, which minimizes the amount of air resistance and maximizes the distance the ball will travel. If you've ever tried to throw a football without spin, or if you've ever tried to throw it without the pointy end forward, you'll realize the ball doesn't fly far, and it doesn't fly straight.

Click Here to return to the search form.

University of California, Santa Barbara Materials Research Laboratory National Science Foundation
This program is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UCSB School-University Partnerships
Copyright © 2020 The Regents of the University of California,
All Rights Reserved.
UCSB Terms of Use