Sports science sounds cool, but what does it really mean and what is really involved. Now, break it down in a way that students can easily understand. Succinctly, sports science uses scientific principles and techniques to improve athletic performance. Scientists in this field study biomechanics, sports nutrition, anatomy, psychology and prevention of sports injuries. This experiment allows students to put some of these principles in practice and be able to predict race results before it’s run.
Predicting and Improving Athletic Performance
- Before you have students start the experiment have them read how math and science helps Olympic athletes go for the gold. Then, take your class outside and have a handful of students run 100m, while other students time them. Record results.
- Explain how runners can improve their race time by increasing their stride length or frequency.
- Someone with longer legs naturally takes more time to complete each stride than someone with shorter legs.It’s easier for someone with shorter legs to complete more strides in one minute then someone with longer legs, because the distance their legs have to move is much shorter.
- This means to improve their time, students with longer legs should try to increase the number of strides, and someone with shorter legs should try to increase their stride.
- Pick a partner and measure each other’s stride, the distance from a specific point on the floor to the end of your partner’s natural leg stride.
- Record data and add it to a class chart.
- Then, organize data to highlight which groups of students could increase their speed by increasing their stride and by number of strides.
- Go outside and test your predictions by timing students running 100 meters.
Career Opportunities that involve biomechanics include coaches, trainers, researchers (like Dr. Vint), fitness instructors, medical technicians, physical therapists and orthopedic surgeons. As a follow up have your students read how Dr. Peter Vint became the High Performance Director for the U.S. Olympic Committee. If they’re interested in this career path, they can also read Dr. Vint’s tips for playing the sports field to get their dream job in athletics.
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