Fluid mechanics is the study of forces and flows within fluids. Fluids include plasmas, gases, and liquids and they create forces on each other and the object within them. In relation to sport, we are particularly interested in the movement of objects through water and air. Within sport, the forces of the fluids upon objects and people impact performance. Athletes often spend lots of time practising being able to manipulate these forces using variations in technique in order to refine their skills and improve their performance.
Athletes often spend lots of time practising being able to manipulate these forces using variations in technique in order to refine their skills and improve their performance. An example of this is the football player rehearsing their free kicks in order to perfect the placement of the ball and its movement through the air. Sports scientists are often used to assist in the design of new clothing or equipment in order to allow for improvements in athletic performance by manipulating the forces provided by fluids. Examples of this include, the full-length swimsuits, with swimming caps and goggles used to decrease fluid resistance, and the addition of dimples in the golf ball to create more lift and control through the air.
The Preliminary PDHPE syllabus says you need to know the following.
Students learn about:
- fluid mechanics
- flotation, centre of buoyancy
- fluid resistance
Students learn to:
- apply principles of fluid mechanics to enhance performance through participation in practical workshops
- describe how principles of fluid mechanics have influenced changes in movement and performance, eg technique modification, clothing/suits, equipment/apparatus
Practice Exam Questions:
Explain how flotation can occur. 3 marks
What is fluid resistance and how does it affect performance in both land and aquatic sport. 5 marks
Describe how a modification in technique, apparel, or equipment using the principles of fluid mechanics has allowed for increases in performance. 8 marks