Force behind a volleyball spike uncovered

Elizabeth Helmkamp- Staff Writer

Senior Engineering majors Glen Thompson, Chad DeGraff, Boone DeKramer, and Dylan Schmitz have designed a senior engineering project that they hope will have positive lasting effects on the athletics department of the College. The students are currently working to measure the force that is exerted on the shoulders of volleyball players when they hit a ball.

This project began as a response to volleyball players coming in to Dordt with pre-existing shoulder injuries. Measuring the force on the shoulder of a volleyball player will allow the injuries to be studied and, hopefully, prevented or remedied for future players.

They are working on the project in two parts.

The first step is research, in which the students attempt to calculate the amount of force that the volleyball exerts on the hand when a player does a spike. This force on the hand can then be related to the shoulder using biomechanics techniques.

As well as using sensors to measure the force that a volleyball exerts on the hand directly, the team is also using a new approach. The new motion capture lab located in the De Witt Gymnasium measures how a volleyball moves in reaction to the force. This information, gathered by observing volunteers as they hit volleyballs, can be used to calculate the force the objects exert on the hand.

The research and project will go a long ways to securing injury-free play for current and future players.

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