The Physics of Different Playing Surfaces

UTAH MEN'S TENNIS Ben TasevacSports, such as tennis and golf, require athletes to be versatile on several different types of playing surface. These different course and court textures developed because of regional climate and resources available to the builders at the time. Depending on which course you play on, the physics of the playing surface impact your own potential performance.

Learn the basics of different playing surfaces.

Articles by Kenny Morley.

Tennis Courts and Equipment: How Physics Affects the Speed of Play

tennis ballsTennis is played internationally.  Depending on what nation hosts a tennis tournament, players may find themselves competing on anything from grass (Wimbledon) to clay (Australia) to rubber coated concrete with acrylic paint (U.S.).  Other variables within the sport include ball types and rackets.

Different court surfaces, balls, and rackets impact the speed of the game. One way to address the issue of speed is to combine a faster court with a slower ball, or a slower court with a faster ball, to level out the pace.  Additionally, scientists continue to study the composition of rackets, shoes, balls, and court material to find solutions to these and other ongoing issues in the sport.

Learn the basics of how physics affects the speed of play or read the more technical explanation.

Articles by Lindsay Sanford.

Creating the Perfect Golf Ball with Chemistry

white-golf-ballThe composition of golf balls has evolved through the years. Two-layered balls, which are inexpensive and popular,  have come a long way.  Polymers combined with natural compounds from rubber have been used to create golf balls that have good distance, high abrasion resistance, and optimal firmness.  Scientists are beginning to research ways to prolong the life of balls after they are exposed to moisture.

Brief the basic chemistry principles or read the more technical chemistry explanation.

Articles by Jessica Egan.

Gloves and Geckos: How Football Gloves Echo the Gecko

Gecko In football, players use gloves as a means to help control the ball, particularly when making catches. In order to develop better gloves, an understanding of how materials actually adhere (stick) to each other is required.  Scientists are constantly searching for new and innovative ideas for adhesive substances. Often, new substances are modeled after examples found in nature. In 2008, a group of scientists developed an adhesive material modeled after the foot pads of the gecko.

Read about the basics of adhesion in geckos and gloves or learn the more technical engineering explanation.

Articles by Bret Van Ausdall.

Aerodynamics and Cycling

Cycling has undergone immense changes since its early days.  As science has opened our understanding of aerodynamics, it has driven changes in bicycle composition and design, the clothing worn by the cyclist, and even the positioning of the rider on the bicycle.

These three factors directly correlate to the amount of drag experienced by the cyclist.  In fact, researcher L. Brownlie reported that some styles of baggy clothes cost cyclists 1.17% of their finishing time in a 100-meter race.  Serious cyclists utilize this knowledge by dressing in sleek, close-fitting clothing to optimize their aerodynamics.

How much of a role do aerodynamics play? Learn the basics or read the more technical explanation.

Articles by Cristian Clavijo.