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Exploring Sports Science

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Submitted by PocketLab on Tue, 05/15/2018 - 20:58

Sports Science with PocketLab

Take your game to the next level while exploring the physics behind your favorite sport. PocketLab’s many sensors can be used in a number of ways to better understand the sports science behind a spiral throw, a spinning ballerina, a runner’s stride, and more. Check out these examples below to find your inspiration.

Arms of Spinning Figure Skater or Ballerina

Both of these PocketLab activities examine how a figure skater or ballerina can change the rate of rotation of their spin by changing the position of their arms. As their arms change position, the distribution of their mass changes. How does this affect their moment of inertia and their rate of rotation? Follow the links to find out more.

Lesson 1: No Ice Skates, No Rink, No Talent, No Problem

Lesson 2: Arms of a Spinning Figure Skater


What Makes an Ideal Soccer Player: 

This video from LaCrosse school district in Wisconsin is a great example of how PocketLab can be used for inquiry-based, hands-on science. Students generated hypotheses about what makes an ideal soccer player and then tested those hypotheses with PocketLab. 


Stanford University ME220 Introduction to Sensors Class

At a Stanford University class, students prototype applications of sensors in products using PocketLabs. Students have prototyped products that measure sleep quality, workout intensity, monitor elderly people for dangerous falls, train for sports, and more. The videos below show prototypes to improve your basketball game, jump roping ability, and fitness level.

Basketball Trainer 

iHop Jump Rope Score




PocketLab Football

1. Get a foam, nerf-style football. 
2. Cut a PocketLab-sized hole in the football. 
3. Connect your PocketLab and insert it into the football. 
Football with PocketLab insert.

4. Practice throwing your best spiral. Measure the angular velocity and acceleration of your throw as you try to measure your best spiral. You’ll max out the angular velocity along the axis of rotation, but a good spiral will have minimal rotation along the other two axes. A “duck” throw, will have significant rotation along the other two axes. Check out the video below for an example of each:


Concussion Kit

After improving your football game, check out the PocketLab concussion kit to learn the importance of not just wearing a helmet, but also helmet design. In the concussion kit, the PocketLab goes in a styrofoam head and the impact force of collisions are measured with PocketLab’s accelerometer. See how helmets and improved helmet design can slow the time of the impact and therefore the overall force of the collision.

PocketLab Concussion Kit


In the Rio Summer Olympics in 2016 the world was captivated by the gravity-defying Simone Biles and her seemingly impossible gymnastics tumbles. There’s a great article here on the physics of her jumps. Check it out and then attach PocketLab to your midsection and try your own tumbles to test your skills. PocketLab friend, Cyndy, tried it out for our original Kickstarter in the video below.


Arms of a spinning figure skater