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Hockey!


zlessard

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"What would be a cool blog post idea?"

The only suggestion I received was slap shots, which I decided to change to just hockey in general.

I am not a very big hockey fan, but upon hearing this I definitely felt like this could be a very cool blog. Initially all that popped into my head was the thought that the coefficient of friction of ice obviously makes for a sport not all that similar to any other sport. Diving deeper into the subject, I learned that my initial reaction was very much true, but there's a lot more interesting physics going on in this sport. 

One of the most important skills to possess for any hockey player is the ability to shoot the puck, for obvious reasons. For any shot, a player is required to apply a force to the puck that is much larger than the very small frictional force being applied on the puck by the ice. An important aspect to any shot is getting lift on the puck in order to avoid the goalies attempted saves. Players are able to create this lift because the blades on hockey sticks have a small "tilt" angle, similar to that of a driver in golf. Blades also have a curve to them that allows a player to put spin on the puck. The greater the follow through on a shot, the greater the launch angle and more spin will be placed on the puck. Spin on a puck allows for it to be more stable and accurate during its flight. On a slap shot, the force applied to the puck is much greater, allowing for a much faster but less accurate shot attempt. 

Once a puck is in the air, it's traveling with a parabolic projectile motion. A player wants the puck to enter the net while it is still going up in its projectile motion (before the velocity vector in the positive, assuming up is positive, y direction reaches 0), because this makes a shot more difficult to save, and also likely means that the x component of its velocity has not decreased by too much due to the force of air resistance acting on it while it flies through the air.

Knowing a lot of the physics of hockey should be helpful for any of my future endeavors in this sport. If only knowing the physics could teach me how to skate. 

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