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Rachel Eck

How do the Universal Laws of Motion affect being able to twirl a baton?

QUESTION: When you are twirling a baton, many forces are acting upon you at once. How exactly do they affect you? What can you do to manipulate these forces to be able to twirl a baton easily?


Newton’s laws of motion especially affect baton twirling. Newton's First Law of Motion states an object in motion will stay in motion, and an object at rest will stay at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. This is very true to your baton. You have to use force to keep your baton moving, or stop it and catch it.

Newton's Third Law states, for every force, there is an equal and opposite force. You have to keep
this in mind especially when you are doing tosses. The measure of the force your hand is exerting
on the baton, will have an equal force that make the baton go up in the air.
When different heights are needed for different tosses, you need to be able to apply the right amount
of force on the baton to succeed the height you need. Then you will be able to successfully catch your baton.

Friction has a big roll in baton twirling. Friction affects everything you do. external image 41JrzXC0frL.jpg external image Grip%20med.jpg
Some accessories that baton twirlers use are made to either reduce or increase the friction. Baton tape, shown in the second picture to the left, that is wrapped around the center of a baton, is used to increase the friction between your hand and the baton. Having baton tape helps you control the baton and makes it easier for you to twirl it faster and have more accurate tosses. Capezio jazz slip on shoes are the most common baton twirling shoes. They are shown in the first picture to the left. They are designed to be very easy to turn in for tosses and rolls. Without being able to control friction, rolls would be very difficult. The baton would just slide right off your arm or body.

If you are a baton twirler, you have to worry about forces, both balanced forces and unbalanced forces. For most of the tricks in baton twirling, they require balanced forces. If the forces are not balanced, the trick will be unsuccessful. Tosses are a great example. When you toss a baton up in the air, you have to be able to predict if the forces are going to be balanced or not. You want the forces of the air on all sides of the baton to be equal. If they are equal, the baton will go exactly where you want it to go.

When twirling a baton, you have to keep speed in mind. Different skills use different speeds. Tosses usually need a faster speed, while rolls are typically more slow.

The different baton you use can make a big difference. There are different weights, shapes, and sizes. It is common to use a heavier baton for rolls. This is because of its momentum. You want the baton to be harder to stop rolling so you can keep your rolls going for a long period of time. A lighter baton has less momentum and stops very easily. For tosses you want a lighter baton because it will have less momentum than a heavier one when it is falling down from a toss. With less momentum, the baton is much easier to stop and wont hurt your hand as much.

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An easy way to be able to manipulate and use these forces in baton twirling are using certain excessories made just for these problems. Some excessories that are common to use include special dance shoes, different types of batons, caps, batons tape and more.