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Football Physics: The Science of the Game Hardcover – September 9, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; First Edition edition (September 9, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 157954911X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579549114
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #636,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"When we prepare for the annual NFL draft, we look at each player's speed and his quickness. This book provides the best discussion of the difference between the two that I've seen. Whether your primary interest is popular science or pro football, you will enjoy Football Physics. You'll learn something about the way the world works, and you will come away with an increased appreciation for some fine points of a great game."
--Bill Belichick, head coach, New England Patriots

About the Author

Timothy Gay, Ph.D., has been a professor of physics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln since 1993. Dr. Gay currently heads a research group that is funded by the National Science Foundation. He lives in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 11 customer reviews
A very fast read that was very enjoyable.
Scott Kongable
Furthermore, Dr. Gay has provided numerous diagrams and charts to help illustrate the principles of physics as they apply to football.
Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty
Montana had to throw the ball at just the right speed, just the right direction, and just the right time.
John Matlock

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty on October 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you're a football fan but don't know anything about physics, this book will teach you some things about physics you probably don't know but will enjoy learning. If you're a student of physics but don't know anything about football, this book will teach you some things about football you probably don't know but will enjoy learning. But if you're both a football fan and a student of physics well, then, this book will be a delightful read for you and you will learn some things about the "physics of football" you may not know but should know, if for no other reason than you can now show your family and friends how the principles and methods of physics are applicable to a popular human activity and one of our favorite pastimes. Now, don't get me wrong. You don't have to be a football fan or a student of physics to enjoy this book. In fact, if you don't fall into either of these categories, you may enjoy reading the book even more because you'll be learning about two unfamiliar subjects instead of just one. Consider it an exciting journey into the unknown.

The author of "Football Physics: The Science of the Game" is eminently qualified to write the book. Dr. Timothy Gay played football at Caltech and earned a doctorate in atomic physics at the University of Chicago, and it is obvious from his writing that he remains a loyal fan of the game. Furthermore, there is no question about his talent in applying the principles of physics to an activity that most of us probably never realized had much in the way of scientific principles attached to it. Well, I was certainly surprised to learn just how much physics is involved in a game that hundreds of thousands of fans watch each week during the football season.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jan Peczkis on June 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
The author provides many lucid explanations, with numbers and equations, that deal with the physics of football. There is a good deal of emphasis on collisions. He thus distinguishes between inelastic and elastic conditions, giving a hilarious example of the latter (football players wearing spring-filled suits, so that they could bounce off each other. The bounces would be unpredictable.)

One form of collision is that between the tackler and runner. Another one is that which occurs between the foot of the kicker and the football. Gay's equations show how the force of the kicking leg, including its angular velocity, is transferred to the ball. The forces of football-related kicks are computed. Record-setting punts and field goals are featured and examined. The spin of the football is also factored.

A bibliography contains references for further study. As an experienced science teacher, I think that this book would serve as an excellent supplement to high school and early-college physics courses.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Harold McFarland HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on September 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If you are a football fan but could never really quite get a grip on physics Timothy Gay may have the answer for you. Basic Newtonian physics are used to explain what happens when two players of different mass collide, the best pursuit patterns, ball spiral, and even why passes go further in the Denver Broncos stadium when compared to Giants Stadium. Or conversely, he uses football to explain Newtonian physics. Either way, by approaching the subject from the standpoint of a common background (football) the author makes basic physics easy to comprehend.

Football Physics: The Science of the Game is a thoroughly enjoyable book and a great way to introduce students to physics in a way that illustrates its application in every day life. I wish a book like this had been available when I was first learning physics, it would have been a lot more fun.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Scott Kongable on September 6, 2005
Format: Hardcover
From start to finish this was a fascinating book. There is also a great deal of football history sprinkled throughout.

It does a great job introducing the football portion of the topic, then the physics lesson, and then combines them to understand how the physics principle is implemented in real life. It does take a basic understanding of physics to really grasp the concepts since the book does not go into a great deal of detail on the principles.

It starts with the fundamentals of blocking a tackling and you gain a much greater understanding of the forces an NFL player can generate. Then you get to understand the precision required to run a passing and kicking game. I especially enjoyed the section on pursuit angles and maximizing the yardage gain.

A very fast read that was very enjoyable.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Matlock on October 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
If Thmothy Gay doesn't rewrite this book into a high school level physics text he's really missing a bet. Of course I don't know anything about selling textbooks, but boy, I sure wish I'd had something like this when I was first taking physics in high school.

Dr. Gay is both a professor (atomic physics) and a football fan. What happens when a heavy, fast moving player (like Warren Sapp) hits a much lighter quarterback (Doug Flutie)who is standing still? This is such a better question than a mass of blah with a speed of blah-blah, and so on. Or what was the accuracy required of Joe Montana in throwing to Jerry Rice in The Catch during SuperBown XXIII. Montana had to throw the ball at just the right speed, just the right direction, and just the right time. But how fast, how accurately, and what was the margin of error on his timing.

The book is a delightful read on aspects of the game of football rarely seen.
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