Sir Isaac Newton, widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time, complied three laws of motion. He used them to explain and investigate the motion of physical objects.

Newton’s second law, Force = mass times acceleration, states that:

“The change of motion (i.e., acceleration) of an object is directly proportional to the force applied to it. And that the change in acceleration takes place in the direction of the applied force”.

It dates back to 1687, but it’s very useful when it comes to understanding your athletic performance.

Here’s why.

Your ability to manipulate objects plays a crucial role in determining sporting outcomes. Here are the 3 most important to consider.

1.You. Some of the most common movements in sport are running, jumping and rapid change of direction. In sports such as high jump, sprinting, or gymnastics, the athlete who can manipulate their body the best against gravity, wins. In team sports, your performance in these types of tasks doesn’t determine the winner, but plays a critical role in your ability to execute sport-specific skills, including repeating them over time.

2.Your opponent. Athletic success in contact sports, like rugby and wrestling, is largely      determined by how well an athlete can manipulate their opponent’s body against gravity.

3.An implement or projectile. Shot put great Valarie Adams wins time after again because of her ability to throw a 4kg solid piece of steel the furthest. Likewise, Sarah Walker’s BMX performance is reliant on her ability to manipulate a hunk of 41xx steel.

160812vadams_04Force Equals Mass Times Acceleration

Newton’s second law of motion (force = mass times acceleration) explains how the manipulation of these objects takes place. Let’s take a closer look at this equation now.

Every object has a mass. In the examples above, this is the mass of you (i.e., your bodyweight), your opponent, the shot put or BMX bike. The change in motion of an object (i.e., it’s acceleration) is directly proportional to the force acting on it. If more force can be produced, then acceleration will increase, and a greater velocity (or speed) will be produced. Essentially, the more force you put in the higher you will jump, faster you will sprint, harder you will hit, or further you will throw.

The Significance of Strength

It’s really simple. Stronger athletes produce more force. Which means they perform better.

Here are 3 examples to illustrate my point.

  • The higher jumper who generates the most force into the ground will go the highest.
  • The front row forward with the strongest core will scrum the hardest.
  • The BMX rider who generates the most force through their pedals will start the quickest.

And one more thing. Stronger athletes also get injured less.

What are you doing to develop your strength?