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Physics of Throwing a Football


mnich7

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if you watch most all NFL quarterbacks, they have a tight spiral on the ball. What is the reason for this? You might think that the motion of a football is a simple motion buy it is defiantly not. When you throw a football, if you throw it well, it will have somewhere between 400-600 RPM's. This spin creates a gyroscopic torque on the ball. The benefit of this spiral has to do with angular momentum and the atmosphere of the earth. If we played football on the moon you wouldn't ever see any person throw a ball with a spiral because it would have no effect.in the thick atmosphere of earth, there are air resistance forces that oppose movement. By throwing a ball in a spiral, it hold a consistent orientation through out its path, for the most part. This allow the quarterback and the receiver to easily predict the path of the ball to certain extent. A non spinning ball may be even to travel further than a spinning ball however, the accuracy trad off when thrown without a spiral is great. 

 

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