Everyday mySci

Football Plays


Compare a football with other kinds of sports balls; baseball, tennis ball, etc. Observe what happens when you throw them. Try throwing them straight up in the air and then a forward pass. Next try bouncing them on a hard surface (Not in your living room!) Also try catching them. Observe the differences.

Questions to Ask:

  •  What is different about the shape of a football? (It is not round, like the other balls. It is a “prolate spheroid”. If you were to draw a basketball, you would draw a circle, but if you draw a football, you draw an ellipse, more of an egg shape.)
  • Why is it shaped that way? (The first football was made from a pig’s bladder, which is naturally shaped that way. Other balls, like soccer balls were also from animal parts, but later made into rubber and plastic.)
  • How does an ellipse travel through the air compared with a sphere? (Try aiming a football and a tennis ball at a certain target. Is it easier to get the football to the target? The shape of the football makes it go through the air with less resistance.)
  • How does a football bounce differently than a tennis ball? Can you predict where the football will bounce? (A sphere (round ball) will bounce back approximately the way you bounced it. A football is much more random on how it will bounce, which makes football games, especially fumbles so interesting!)