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The Physics of Cheerleading

This Prezi explains some of the definitions of physics used in cheerleading, as well as what those might be. Pictures and videos are also used as a visual aid to help understand these terms.
by

Brittany Selle

on 5 June 2013

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Transcript of The Physics of Cheerleading

Brittany Selle Physics in Cheerleading Examples of Physics Concepts Definitions What Cheerleading Really Is In cheerleading, there is much more than clapping and shouting silly little chants. There are jumps, tumbling, and stunting, too. Jumps and tumbling might seem extremely simple, but there's more work done than one might think. Stunting takes a lot of practice, and even more physics are involved. With this sport, many concepts of physics come into play, such as gravity, Newton's Laws of Motion, momentum, potential and kinetic energy, force, acceleration, and free fall. How are these all applied? First, let's figure out what these words mean. Gravity: the force that causes something to fall to the ground (at 9.8 m/s²)
Newton's Laws of Motion: three laws that state mechanics describing the motion of a body. The first law is the law of inertia: a body remains at rest unless acted upon by an external force. The second law states that a body in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an external force. Newton's third and final law is about how for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Momentum: the quantity of motion an object has (M=mass•velocity)
Potential Energy: the stored energy of position possessed by an object
Kinetic Energy: the energy of an object in motion
Force: a push or pull upon an object resulting from the object's interaction with another object
Acceleration: the rate at which an object changes its velocity
Free Fall: an object that is falling under the sole influence of gravity. These objects do not have any air resistance and they fall at a rate of 9.8 m/s² Gravity Newton's Laws Momentum Potential Energy Kinetic Energy Force Acceleration Free Fall Gravity is used in all parts of cheerleading, from jumps to basket tosses. (Which is when a girl is thrown up into the air.) With jumps, one has to have enough power, force, and momentum to get off of the ground and also have the ability to kick one's legs up in a way to perform a specific jump, then land on two feet when gravity pulls the person back down. Another way gravity has to be manipulated in this sport would be through tumbling. When a cheerleader is going to do a round-off, back-handspring, or something as simple as a cartwheel or dive roll, her (or his) center of gravity (usually around the bellybutton area) is changing. This is why people fall. They don't have a good balance in their center of gravity. Now, my last example was a basket toss, which is a stunt. Stunts require a base, backstop, flyer, and possibly a front. The base is constructed of one or more people that hold the flyer in the air. The flyer, the person on top of the stunt, is held by the backstop on their ankles or waist to provide more support to the stunt's structure. The center of gravity, the flyer, must be balanced for this to work. How the laws are used:
Newton's First Law of Motion comes into play when getting ready to do running tumbling, such as a round-off. When doing a round-off, a person must have some sort of motion to begin, and then be able to change direction by pushing off of the floor.
Newton's Second Law of Motion comes into play with tumbling as well. The more force that is put upon the ground when pushing off to flip over, the higher the cheerleader would fly, making it easier to land.
Newton's Third Law of Motion has to do with many things, like throwing something (or someone) into the air or when a cheerleader actually pushes off from the ground while tumbling. Basically, with this, what goes up must come down. There are many instances in which momentum is used in cheerleading. A person doing a jump needs to have upward momentum, as does a person doing a stunt (the flyer). When someone is doing a tumbling sequence, they need specific momentum forward, backward, or out diagonally in order to perform the trick correctly and without flaw. Even during jumps, momentum is needed. After the force of the push-off from the floor, one must have upward momentum so they're able to execute the jump correctly. Potential energy has a lot of impact in cheer. When one gets to the peak of their jump and hits the motion, they have potential energy. When said person bent their knees in order to perform the jump in the first place, they had elastic potential energy. Any time a trick is performed, there is potential energy at the peak. One of the most taken-for-granted parts of this sport is the kinetic energy. In each and every jump, tumble, stunt, or anything else, there is a ton of kinetic energy in order to hit any of these things with their amazing potential energy. A large part of stunting is the force needed to get the flyer into the air when doing basket-tosses, kick-arches, or some other form of pushing the flyer into the air. Force is used to pick them up from the ground as well. In some stunts, there is only one base and one flyer. Occasionally, the flyer balances on one foot while the base holds them up with one hand. This requires a lot of force to push the flyer up and keep here there, especially since the acceleration of gravity is pulling the other way. Acceleration is a gigantic part of tumbling. When the acceleration is pushed into the right direction with the right amount of force, there can be more tricks performed with the higher amount. If there isn't enough acceleration, not enough momentum can be produced in order to perform the rotations of the body during tumbles. There are two main times in which free fall is a major part of cheerleading. The first would be when a flyer is falling from a stunt that would be thrown up. After the flyer is forced into the air, he or she would fall back into the hands of her bases and backspot at 9.8 m/s². The second time that freefall occurs is if a flip is executed. After the potential energy at the peak of the trick, free fall happens when landing and coming down from that. Written Examples
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Physics in Cheer Gravity Newton's Laws Momentum Potential Energy Kinetic Energy Force Acceleration Free Fall
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