The long-awaited summer Olympics have arrived, and the whole world is eager to cheer on these elite athletes. And as an educator, we’re sure you’re eager to find new ways for your math students to practice their skills in a way that is relevant to their lives. Using the Olympics as a backdrop provides a multitude of discussions on how math is applied in real-life scenarios.
Math is Integral to Olympic Training & Performance
When students work with math, they often ask, “when am I going to use this in real life?” Well, in the case of nutrition and fitness, math is an integral part of almost every area. Mathematical formulas abound, beginning with simple calculations like body mass index (BMI), body fat percentage, nutritional macros, and target heart rate. It can become as complicated as the critical power (CP) formula, which is used for high-intensity exercise to determine power output and how long that level can be sustained, and the Banister impulse-response (IR) model, which monitors performance as it relates to training. Even a graph theory is used to schedule multiple events, such as tournaments.
And when math is combined with technology, even more opportunities exist for collecting and analyzing data for athletic performance. Golfers use video technology to study their swing, using geometry to calculate the angle of the club path, club-head speed, ball speed and launch angle, and the total distance and dispersion of each shot. Track and field athletes can also use video to study the angle of their legs and combine that with information on speed and force, even going as far as using an electromyography sensor to measure energy from muscles. Runners use math to calculate their pace for optimal results; gymnasts develop their routines to maximize scoring possibilities based on the algorithm used to score performances; soccer players use geometry to calculate locations on the field for best goal-scoring opportunities. As you see, math exists in almost every aspect of athletic performance, whether subconsciously or not.
Printable Olympic Math Activities
In honor of the summer Olympics, we’ve developed a fun way to practice math at various levels using popular competition events. Our free PDF will let your spectator practice their math skills while getting into the Olympic spirit. Enter your information below to have the PDF emailed to you.