Have you ever wondered why a smaller defensive lineman in football may be able to outplay a larger offensive tackle? Obviously technique plays a large role; but if the two players are equally skilled, the one who has the greatest momentum (mass times velocity) will be able to stop his opponent. The smaller player must move at a higher speed than the larger player to have equal or greater momentum. How does the successful athlete develop greater velocity? When the ball is snapped in football, both players begin to accelerate. The player who can accelerate most quickly will attain the greatest velocity before the two collide. What allows one player to accelerate more quickly? The answer is power.
Power is defined as the rate of doing work. The relationships of strength, velocity, and work show that there are many ways in which one can think about power. Power during sport is best thought of as strength multiplied by velocity. The key concept is that athletes are universally concerned with speed and acceleration. Timed sports require covering a known distance in the shortest time. Ball sports require accelerating an object (ball) to high velocities. Boxing requires accelerating the hand and glove to maximal velocity when a punch is landed. A soccer play requires acceleration and the ability to change directions quickly, as well as the ability to impart momentum (using high foot velocity) to the ball. All competitive sports rely on power for success. In general, the shorter the duration of the activity, the greater the power that is required.