In August, I was able to see the Indianapolis Colts practice at their training camp in Terre Haute, Indiana. While watching the team run their drills, a friend of mine asked me how hard I thought Peyton Manning was throwing the ball during his accuracy drill. That got me wondering not just about how hard NFL players throw the ball, but all of the physical aspects of the game.
How fast are the receivers? Typically, receivers are the fastest players on the team.
How hard does each safety hit? Safeties are usually the biggest hitters on the team.
How hard does an NFL quarterback throw the ball?
5.5.1- Make precise and varied measurements and specify the appropriate units.
5.6.4- Investigate, observe, and describe that things change in steady, repetitive, or irregular ways, such as toy cars continuing in the same direction and air temperature reaching a high or low value. Note that the best way to tell which kinds of changes are happening is to make a table or a graph of measurements
Speed is simply the distance covered in a given amount of time. This is most commonly expressed in miles per hour or mph.
In my research, I found that the average wide receiver in the NFL can cover 10 yards in just over 1 second when at full stride (1.1 seconds).
This means that the receiver covers 9.09 yards per second.
This converts to 27.27 feet per second, or 18.60 mph! WOW!
Speed (by comparison)
I was hand timed (with a stop watch) in my research to see how fast the average man runs in comparison to an NFL receiver (Keep in mind that I played receiver myself and was usually one of the fastest players on my team).
My time for the 40 yard dash was 5.2 seconds, which is about 7.7 yards per second. This converts to around 15.8 mph (1 yard per second = 2.05 miles per hour).
So an average NFL receiver is about 3 miles an hour faster than I am.
Force is a push or pull with magnitude and direction.
The formula for acceleration is change in velocity divided by time.
The formula for force is F=ma (force=mass x acceleration).
I found that the average NFL safety making a collision with a player when both are moving at full speed is about 1000 pounds per square inch (psi).
I didn’t figure out the math on this one for myself. I didn’t have any volunteers to run at me full blast and collide.
How Fast is the Ball?
In my research, I found that, on average, NFL quarterbacks can throw it in the 55-60 mph range, 60 mph being an extreme rarity.
Watching the Colts play last weekend, I got a stop watch out and took some estimations of how hard Peyton Manning was throwing the ball each time (on the really hard throws in short range).
The best that I did timing his throw was an almost exact 9 yard pass that looked like it was really thrown as hard as he could. If my math is correct, Manning threw the ball about 59 mph on that pass. The longer lob throws were considerably slower, as expected.
To test myself, I simply got out a radar gun we used when I played baseball to time fast balls. I threw it a few times, hard enough that it hurt my arm, and my best was only 48 mph, not nearly the force of an NFL quarterback.
Speed of a wide receiver 8 m/s
Speed of the ball on a hard pass is 30 m/s
Acceleration of a running back from rest is 5 m/s squared
The force on a player during a full speed collision is about 1000 psi
Taken from http://footballphysics.utk.edu
Deion Sanders- 4.19 40 yard dash (19.6 mph)
Brett Favre- throws at a clocked 63 mph (equivalent to an MLB 102 mph fast ball)
Gerald Sensabaugh- 46 inch vertical leap
Bob Sanders- Exerts just over 1200 pounds of force
Justin Ernest- 51 repetitions with a 225 pound bench press
Top End Sports http://www.topendsports.com/sport/gridiron