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Introduction

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As seen by the kinesiologist, the human body is a highly complex machine constructed of living tissue. As such it is subject to the laws and principles of mechanics as well as those of biology. The principles of mechanics are directly applicable both to the movements of the human body and to the implements it handles. Principles of balance and equilibrium, motion, and the application of forces apply equally to people in motion as they do to rockets and wheels, gears and missiles. A study of the fundamental principles of mechanics as they apply to movement skills will aid the teacher, therapist, and coach in the analysis of skills for the intelligent evaluation of technique and correction of error. Applications in research can lead to the determination of the relative merits of existing techniques as well as to the development of techniques yet unknown.

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In the branch of science called biomechanics, the principles and methods of mechanics are applied to the structure and function of biological systems. Because biology is concerned with all living things, biomechanics is a very broad branch of science, and the biomechanics of sport is only one of the applied areas in which applications are made of the same common core of knowledge and fundamental research found in physics, mathematics, anatomy, and physiology. Other fields of applied biomechanics include industrial engineering and ergonomics, physical rehabilitation, medicine and biomedical physics, and aerospace science.

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Of the fields of applied biomechanics, the biomechanics of sport, dance, and physical education are the least advanced, but increased availability and use of advanced technology in the form of digital and real-time recording devices have resulted in research and study that formerly was almost prohibitive because of the agonizing amount of time they consumed. Additional impetus has also been supplied through the founding in 1973 of the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB) and, in 1977, the American Society of Biomechanics (ASB). The influence of these societies in stimulating study and disseminating knowledge through international meetings has done much to advance knowledge in this fascinating field of applied biomechanics, the biomechanics of sport and physical education.

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Part II introduces the student to some elementary concepts necessary for understanding the biomechanics of sport and physical education. Chapter 10 presents mechanical concepts and terminology basic to the study of mechanics as an aspect of kinesiology. The need to understand basic mathematical concepts in order to use appropriate formulas and understand basic principles is also set forth in this chapter. The level of mathematics needed for this and subsequent chapters is relatively elementary and, with the aid of the examples given and the mathematics review in Appendix D, the average kinesiology student should have no difficulty. Under no circumstances, however, should the student become so involved with juggling numbers in this part that the sight of the forest is lost for the trees.

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Part II continues ...

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