The Math, Physics, and Mechanical Engineering Behind Every Grand Slam, Triple Axel, and Penalty Kick

By: Jennifer Swanson

Published: July 20, 2021

Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal

If you have a child that is interested in sports, encourage them to learn more about the science behind their particular spot and how the two go together. Author and self-proclaimed science geek, Jennifer Swanson, understands science and how to explain it to kids, making it exciting and leaving them wanting to learn more. Understanding the physics of where the ball will land or how to calculate your 3-point shot percentage just might make you a better athlete and give you that extra edge on the court, field, or wherever your sport is played.

If your child is on a travel team, stays late or goes early to practice, spends hours in the backyard kicking goals or in the driveway shooting baskets, then this is the book for them. It includes tips for improving your game, becoming more fit, and most importantly, how to apply science to their sport and think differently about how they play the game.

With the Winter Olympics beginning next week, kids will naturally have questions about the various athletes, the Olympic sports, and how athletes train to become Olympians. Watching the Winter Olympics together with your kids and then looking up the physics behind the ski jumps or the direction of the pass to score a hockey goal will make watching the Olympics even more fun AND educational.

Having a long wingspan can give you an asset in athletics. But, your wingspan isn’t something you can change by doing exercises, it is just your genetics. But, you can work on improving your vertical leap. In the book, Swanson shares that with practice including lunges, climbing stairs, squats, and jumping practice, you can work on your vertical leap which can be helpful in football, basketball, volleyball, gymnastics, ice skating, track, and soccer. These exercises will also make you faster and have a more powerful start.

Does your child like keeping stats on their favorite athlete? Are they keeping track of Tom Brady’s pass attempts and completions? They might find the formulas used to keep stats on the passer rating or the percentage of completions vs attempts. They can also learn about the science behind throwing a pass including the speed of the ball, the launch angle, the range, and the speed of the catcher. This book would be an excellent resource for every coach in youth sports.

I found this book so fascinating and wish our boys would have had a book like this when they were in sports. The illustrations keep kids engaged in the reading and don’t make them feel like they are reading a science textbook. Plus the illustrations help explain the exercises or parts of the body used to engage a particular muscle or throw a ball. The more you can learn about your sport, your body, and the science of how to get your goal accomplished will no doubt make you a better athlete. If someday, you’d like to be a coach, this book will offer you excellent examples of how to explain various training techniques to your young athletes.

Jennifer Swanson is an award-winning children’s author of more than 40 nonfiction and fiction books where she aims to get kids excited about science. Her books cover a wide range of science-related activities including animals, space, geology, robotics, technology, and more. A huge science geek, Jennifer encourages kids (of all ages) to engage their curiosity and DISCOVER the Science all around them! You can learn more about her and book her for speaking engagements and school visits at She is also the creator of STEMTuesday at

To purchase a copy of THE SECRET SCIENCE OF SPORTS, click the photo below:

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Thanks to the publisher for sending a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. If you choose to make a purchase through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase.
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