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Title Aerodynamic analysis of a tumbling American football
Publication Date
Degree MS
Discipline/Department Aerospace Engineering
Degree Level masters
University/Publisher Mississippi State University
Abstract In this study, the aerodynamic effects on an American football are characterized, especially in a tumbling, or end-over-end, motion as seen in a typical kickoff or field goal attempt. The objective of this study is to establish aerodynamic coefficients for the dynamic motion of a tumbling American football. A subsonic wind tunnel was used to recreate a range of air velocities that, when coupled with rotation rates and differing laces orientations, would provide a test bed for aerodynamic drag, side, and lift coefficient analysis. Test results quantify effect of back-spin and top-spin on lift force. Results show that the presence of laces imposes a side force in the opposite direction of the laces orientation. A secondary system was installed to visualize air flow around the tumbling ball and record high-speed video of wake patterns, as a qualitative check of measured force directions.
Subjects/Keywords sports engineering; football; American football; aerodynamics
Contributors Keith Koenig (chair); Thomas E. Lacy (committee_member); J. Mark Janus (committee_member)
Language en
Rights unrestricted
Country of Publication us
Format application/pdf
Record ID oai:library.msstate.edu:etd-07032014-114223
Repository msstate
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2018-01-03

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…flight produces a challenge in recreating the ball’s exact behavior in a controlled, laboratory setting, in an attempt to extract aerodynamic coefficients. In the case of the American football, for example, the approximately axisymmetric shape of the ball…

…the composition of the ball itself. An American football is one example of an inflated sports ball, i.e., an internal 1 bladder is used to hold air at a high enough pressure to provide the ball with the required rigidity. Finding a way to secure an…

…inflated ball during aerodynamic testing is always a challenge for the tester. In this particular study, the aerodynamic coefficients of an American football are measured, especially as seen in a tumbling, or end-over-end, condition. This dynamic behavior…

…balls, Rae and Streit1 conducted wind tunnel tests on a spiraling American football. The supported football was spun about its longitudinal axis at a set rate and subjected to a steady wind speed of 60 mph. Forces normal to and axial to the ball’s…

…Watts and Moore2 conducted wind tunnel tests on an American football but focused specifically on the drag force on the ball. The ball was supported by vertical shafts from the top of the wind tunnel test section. Tests involved subjecting the ball to a…

…rotation speeds, and pitch angles in a similar manner to Rae and Streit.1 In 2013, Lee et al.4 conducted a study of the trajectory of an American football during a tumbling flight. The purpose of this study was to quantify the effects of initial conditions…

…on the accuracy of an end-over-end kick by simulating kick trajectory. Since no known work has been completed on wind tunnel tests of a tumbling American football, Lee et al.4 chose to use the aerodynamic coefficients found by the previously mentioned…

American football. It is this author’s contention that the aerodynamic coefficients of tumbling football cannot simply be inferred from static tests at varying pitch angles. The dynamic nature of a tumbling ball in flight should produce a differing set of…