Volleyball Physics

Forces are constantly at play in serves and spiking the ball. The net force on the ball equals its mass, 0.27 kg, times the acceleration produced by the player. Throughout the game of volleyball, the mass of the ball remains constant, but the acceleration and direction of the ball change constantly.

According to the work-energy theorem in physics, work produces a change in kinetic energy. Work is the dot product of force and displacement and kinetic energy is 1/2 mass x velocity^2. For the greatest change in kinetic energy, a large force and "follow-through" are produced by good players. "Follow-through" creates a larger displacement for the large force.

One of the most exciting moves in volleyball to watch and to execute is the spike. The tall players with a high vertical jump ability execute the spike the best. To make this maneuver most difficult to return, the projectile (volleyball) is launched from an angle below the horizontal at high speeds. The higher the position of launch, the greater the chances of clearing the net and coming in at a steep angle too.

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