Volleyball Spiking

By: Emily Wasko

The Question

How important are the laws of motion in volleyball?

My Research

Have you ever noticed how important the laws of motion are in sports? Just about everything you do in sports involves physics. Every step you take and every jump you make, you are acting with physics. One sport that is a great example of that is volleyball. In volleyball, you are working with acceleration, velocity, gravity, and Newton's laws.
I'll start with acceleration. When you think of acceleration, you generally think of something speeding up. Well, that isn't always the case. In this sport, you are constantly moving towards the ball, and across your side of the court. Acceleration includes direction and magnitude. What that means is that while someone is moving in one direction or another, they are either slowing down or speeding up.


Velocity is the speed of an object in a particular direction. For example, it could be finding out how fast someone runs in a certain amount of time, or it could be how fast the ball is moving. To find out all of that information, you can use a simple formula: v=d/t. For example, you spike the ball over the net, and it travels 6 m. in .5 s. To find out its velocity, you would take v=6/.5, and you would find out that the velocity would equal 12 m/s.

Next, we can talk about gravity. Gravity affects the ball, the net, and even yourself. When we are talking about gravity, free fall comes into the subject. Free fall is the motion of a falling object that is caused by gravity. When you serve the ball over the net, gravity pulls it back down towards the ground. Free fall then takes place as the ball is coming back down towards you and the ground.


In order for you to spike a volleyball over the net, you need to build up momentum. What exactly is momentum? Well, it's simple. Momentum is all of an object's mass and velocity. When you are up by the volleyball net about to spike the ball, you jump. Have you noticed that to do this properly, you use your arms to help you jump up? The reason for that is because it is helping you build up momentum. At the same time, gravity is right there pulling you back down to the ground.

Newton's First Law states that an object at rest remains at rest, and an object in motion remains in motion unless acted upon by an external force. An example of this would be the volleyball. While gravity is pulling it down, it would keep falling, except the ball gets stopped when it hits the ground.
Newton's Second Law says that the rate of change of momentum is proportional to the imposed force and goes in the direction of that force. You can put that definition into a simple equation: F=ma (Force= mass x acceleration). Newton's Third Law states that there is an equal and opposite reaction for every action. An example of this law would be a person hitting the volleyball.

Overall, as you can see, the laws of physics play a very important roll, not only in volleyball, but in all sports.


1) http://www.hesston.edu/academics/FACULTY/NELSONK/PhysicsResearch/Volleyball/paper.htm

2) http://www.mrfizzix.com/volleyball/newton.htm

3) http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&defl=en&q=define:newton%27s+second+law&ei=_pa2S6ykFI3cNZmMjOwJ&sa=X&oi=glossary_definition&ct=title&ved=0CAYQkAE

4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=frcfdRuBWdQ&feature=related

5) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAznRTj4sQM&feature=related

6) http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2006/images/newton_laws.jpg