Physics Of A Shotput Essay Research Paper

Physics Of A Shotput Essay, Research Paper

Physics is everywhere in the world of sports. It can be found when a boxer punches a guy, or when a person is stabbing something. The shot put is an event which has many practical applications to physics. From the time the thrower begins moving, to the time the shot hits the ground, physics can be applied.

The first track and field events began over two thousands years ago in Greece. People participated in sprints, endurance races, shot put, and discus. Track and Field events were held first in the Olympics in 776 B.C. They were held again every four years: however, under the Roman Empire, track and field started to die (McMane, 5). It didn’t begin to flourish again until the middle of the eighteenth century. In 1896, the Olympics started again in Athens, Greece. Since then, they have been held every four years with few exception. The shot put event evolved with the maturing of Olympic Games. It advanced from a very basic understanding of the sport, to a precise approach to each athlete’s technique.

It is important to understand the set of events that should be followed in each throw. The shot should be placed over the head balancing the shot on all four fingers. The left arm should then be raised above the head. Both hands are turned so that the palm of each hand are looking down at each ear. In that position the arms are lowered to rest on the shoulder. Then both hands are squeezed to the neck. The rhythm for shot placement is described as “up, turn, down, squeeze”(Naclerio 117). There are many different styles used in the shot. Parry O’Brien developed a 180 degree shot rather than the usual 90

and found that the longer he pushed the faster the shot would travel. The most descriptive word for the action of the shot putter’s arm is punch ( Naclerio, 116). The motion of the arms should be like punching towards a tall person. The legs of the putter should move in a violent manner and the right heel should get around the right knee. The throwing motion of the shot than begins. In the up position the athlete will then balance the shot on the base of the fingers. In the turn position, the athlete faces his or her palms to the ears, then lowers his arms to prepare for the squeeze. In the squeeze phase, the ball is nestled against the neck. The left arm is than relaxed to become an extension of the left shoulder.

The physical properties of the shot may also be important. The shot is generally made of brass or iron (Matson 1). It is thrown from a circle of 2.135 meters in diameter into a sector about 65 degrees from the center of the circle. The circle has a board 10 centimeters high around the front.

Tall heavy and strong athletes are suited to shot putting. The release velocity of the shot is very much dependent on the speed at which the thrower moves across the circle. Therefore, shot-putters are generally fast and powerful. Strength, power and flexibility form the foundation of shot putters.

In order to avoid injuries in trial runs the subject should engage in arm, waist, hamstring, hip and quadriceps stretching. Also a light jog or brisk before stretching may be appropriate. Warming up each day will also be vital to results. If the same warm-up routine is used each day then the results will be more uniform because the subject will be similarly ready for each day of putting.

Videotaping is used extensively in shot-putting. Video taping can be helpful because there is often a big gap between what one thinks he/she is doing between what he/she is actually doing. The techniques of athletes use in throwing the shot have changed dramatically over the past century. The first style was a crude approach to throwing the shot. An athlete simply threw from an upright stance perpendicular to the toe board (Judge, 30). In the 1950’s, Parry O’Brian added momentum to his technique by introducing the back to the toe board stance. This involved sliding towards the toebaord to add speed and momentum behind the shot. And finally, in the 1970’s , Brian Oldfield added the rotary discus spin to create the third technique used in throwing the shot

(Judge 30). Oldfield’s style was revolutionary for the shot put world. He was able to toss farther than anyone had before in history. Oldfield’s technique has many advantages over the other styles. First, it allows the athlete to generate more horizontal velocity. Secondly, it allows an athlete to generate more force over a greater period of time. Lastly, this technique gives throwers of modest strength and weight an opportunity to be competitive (Judge 30). The spin style does have its drawbacks. It is a technique which can lead to an off-balance throw should the slightest detail be overlooked (Judge 30). There is no set code used in deciding which technique is best for an athlete. Even top class athletes have their own styles. For example, Huang Zhihong has a very simple style. The Chinese thrower has an explosive release which sets her apart from her competitors (Moore, 93). Although an athlete can bring some individuality to his/her technique, there are basic components required to throw well. The shot is not actually thrown, but punched outward. The key is to concentrate on an up-over-out motion throughout the entire throw. The focus on a linear path ensures that no force will dissipate in other directions, which would limit an athlete’s performance. The shot should be held deep in the hands, with the thumb and little finger providing support. The elbow should stay behind the shot at all times to maximize the effect of the throw. Precise body

movements, agility, strength, explosiveness, and coordination mixed with a focus on linear motion can, and will produce a good throw.

Just like the water balloon lab, distance is maximized when the projectile reaches a 45 degree angle. Once the shot is air borne, projectile motion can be applied. Projectile motion refers to the motion of an object into the air subjected to the downward acceleration of gravity. A thrown baseball, a driven golf ball, and a shot are all examples of projectile motion (Giancoli, 39). We regard only its motion after it has been projected

and is moving freely through the air under the action of gravity which has a magnitude of 9.8 meters per second. Galileo was the first to accurately describe projectile motion. He described that it could be understood by analyzing the horizontal and vertical components of motion separately. Once the shot leaves the thrower’s hand, and is projected at a certain angle, the analysis is essentially the same. The difference is that now there is an initial vertical component of velocity. The downward acceleration of gravity continually decreases until the shot reached the highest point of its path. At that point the shotput begins to increase in the downward direction. It can be shown that the path of the projectile is a parabola.

The physics behind the shot put event has many different aspects which can be investigated. The different techniques, the angle at which it is thrown, and the motion it follows in the air are interesting points which deserve further analysis on my part. By understanding the relationship between a sport and physics, an athlete can improve his or her performance.


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