About this Article
Written by: Zhongjie Cai
Written on: December 11th, 2013
Tags: physics, sports & recreation
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About the Author
Zhongjie is a student majoring in Chemical Engineering at USC. He has been playing badminton for over 11 years with 7 years of training experience and 2 years being the President & Team Captain of the USC Badminton club. This is his first essay about badminton.
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Volume XVI Issue II > Fast & Furious: The Science behind Badminton Smashes
From Newton’s law we know that F=ma, where “F” is the force, “m” is the mass of the object and “a” is the acceleration of the object. So the force applied by the bird on the watermelon is determined by the bird’s mass and its negative acceleration when in contact with the watermelon. Since birds have very similar mass, speed will be the key to exert such high force because higher speed will require higher deceleration and therefore the “a” variable will be larger which will yield a higher “F”. To offer a general sense of how fast a bird can be, here is a comparison made between badminton and other sports: The record baseball pitch is 108 miles per hour (mph) by Nolan Ryan; the record tennis serve is 163 mph by Samuel Groth; and the record badminton smash is 208 mph by Fu Haifeng [9].
There are many factors that can affect the speed of a smash: the bird, the body movement, and the racket. As people on the court will be using the same bird and our discussion mainly focuses on how one can perform a better smash than others, the bird’s condition and property will not be discussed. The movement of the body plays the major role in determining how effectively energy is transmitted from the player’s body to the bird.