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Physics of Lacrosse



Spring is one of my favorite seasons because for me that means it is lacrosse season! During practice one day when I was trying to think of a topic for a blog post it became obvious to me that lacrosse is a perfect example of physics in action in my life. Newton's Three Laws really became the primacies at which I was able to figure out the physics within this sport. Newton's First Law: An object at rest will remain at rest until acted up by an external force. In the case of lacrosse, the net cradles the ball, which connects to the stick before a player finally acts upon it. A centripetal force exists on the ball as the player throws it; the ball's friction against the net keeps the ball in the pocket while the stick accelerates around. Once the ball gets released, it will continue in a straight line until acted upon by an outside force such as another player's stick, or simply the force of gravity as the ball falls to the ground. Also by using Newton's Second Law you may calculate the force of a player's throw using Newton's second law: Force equals mass times acceleration. The acceleration applied to the ball during the throw directly determines the force of the pass, because the mass remains constant. And lastly, Newton's Third Law points out that for every action there exists an equal and opposite reaction. When throwing a lacrosse ball, the stretch in the netted pocket and the motion of the ball counteracts the force put into swinging the stick. The ball gets forced forward as a reaction to the work applied to the stick.


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Another physics item coming up soon... how can you hear a referee's whistle if they are facing away from you?

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