JOURNAL OF SPORTS SCIENCE & MEDICINE
 Research article

OPTIMUM PROJECTION ANGLE FOR ATTAINING MAXIMUM DISTANCE IN A SOCCER PUNT KICK

Nicholas P. Linthorne and Dipesh S. Patel

Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance, School of Sport and Education, Brunel University, Uxbridge, Middlesex, United Kingdom

 Received 07 October 2010 Accepted 29 December 2010 Published 01 March 2011

© Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2011) 10, 203 - 214

ABSTRACT
To produce the greatest horizontal distance in a punt kick the ball must be projected at an appropriate angle. Here, we investigated the optimum projection angle that maximises the distance attained in a punt kick by a soccer goalkeeper. Two male players performed many maximum-effort kicks using projection angles of between 10° and 90°. The kicks were recorded by a video camera at 100 Hz and a 2 D biomechanical analysis was conducted to obtain measures of the projection velocity, projection angle, projection height, ball spin rate, and foot velocity at impact. The player's optimum projection angle was calculated by substituting mathematical equations for the relationships between the projection variables into the equations for the aerodynamic flight of a soccer ball. The calculated optimum projection angles were in agreement with the player's preferred projection angles (40° and 44°). In projectile sports even a small dependence of projection velocity on projection angle is sufficient to produce a substantial shift in the optimum projection angle away from 45°. In the punt kicks studied here, the optimum projection angle was close to 45° because the projection velocity of the ball remained almost constant across all projection angles. This result is in contrast to throwing and jumping for maximum distance, where the projection velocity the athlete is able to achieve decreases substantially with increasing projection angle and so the optimum projection angle is well below 45°.

Key words: Sports biomechanics, sports projectile.

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