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Understanding Acceleration

Understanding that acceleration is the most common and important motion in all team based sports is important. Points, games, championships are won on an athlete’s ability to get from point A to Point B the quickest. Acceleration and speed are often interchanged. However, according to physics, they’re not the same. Acceleration is the rate you change speed divided by time, and speed is the distance travelled divided by time.  When you’re moving at a constant of 20mph, your speed is 20mph and your acceleration is zero mph. As a strength coach it’s important to understand this distinction and have a basic understanding of physics.  Important components to understand acceleration in sports are Newton’s First and Second Laws of Physics.

Newtown's First Law

A body at rest will stay at rest. A body in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force.  Newtons first law predicts the behavior of objects when forces are balanced. The object will not accelerate unless forces become unbalanced. Next is Newton’s Second Law, the law of Acceleration.

Newtown's Second Law

Newton’s Second Law – The 2nd law states acceleration is dependent on the net force applied to the object and the objects mass.  Acceleration is equal to net Force divided by Mass. Let’s say Athlete A is 185lb and Squats 405lb while Athlete B is 205lb and Squats 405lb. Athlete A will have a higher potential to accelerate their body.  Newton’s second law explains how force production, rate of force development and the athlete’s relative body strength collaborate in developing acceleration ability.

In conclusion, Newton’s laws help us understand the laws that govern motion. BVT Lab uses that understanding to design the training framework which helps athletes improve their acceleration. The next part of this article series will cover Newton’s 3rd law and biomechanics.