Football Fun with SOLIDWORKS Motion

With the NFL Superbowl right around the corner, I thought it would be cool to have some fun with SOLIDWORKS Motion and look at the physics of a field goal using Motion Simulation! Let’s say we want to find the force required to kick a 50 yard field goal. Since air resistance throws in all kinds of headaches, let’s for the sake of simplicity remove that.

Without air resistance, this problem is just a projectile motion problem and could be done with hand calculations, but who has time for that?? Instead lets take a look at how easily we can set this up in SOLIDWORKS Motion.

First we get ourselves some goal posts, a football field, and of course a football…
Next, we create our SOLIDWORKS Motion study and apply gravity. We setup a contact condition between the goal posts and the ball and finally apply a force on the ball at a specified launch angle. Once these things are setup, we simply change the force value a few times until we make the field goal! Yes, this problem could easily be solved with a hand calculation if the force is all that we are worried about. However, along with just the force information, we can extract the displacement, velocity, and acceleration of the ball throughout the projectile path. We can even pull out how much energy is stored within the ball during the kick…and the best thing of all, it’s WAY more fun than getting out your calculator! 🙂



So from our analysis we can conclude that at a 40 degree launch angle without any air resistance, it would take a force of 21 pounds applied over a tenth of a second to make a 50 yard field goal.

SOLIDWORKS Motion is one of the simulation tools that I feel gets forgotten about a lot of times, so I thought this would be a fun way to remind people of it. Not only is it fun to play with, it also is extremely powerful when you are designing mechanisms!



By: Chris Olson, Simulation Applications Engineer


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