Maths uses in real life are numerous. In fact, too numerous to mention because maths is everywhere! It helps us with shopping, managing our finances, monitoring our progress, and even, helping us improve in sport!

In recent years, the development of technology has disrupted sport to such an extent that professional athletes can no longer do without it. From amateur athletics to the highest level of sporting prowess, technology in sport is a perfect example of how the application of mathematics in different fields can be used.

In this article, you will find out how maths uses in real life extend to sport as well as more about the surprising jobs that require math skills.

Breaking World Records

When you start to really think about it, maths uses in real life can be very surprising. It is easy to classify jobs like accounting, medicine, engineering, or actuarial science as those that require a high level of mathematical acumen. However, the application of mathematics in different fields can be somewhat surprising. One of these – you guessed it – is sport!

Let’s look at someone that just about everyone has heard of -  Usain Bolt, the world-famous Jamaican sprinter, renowned for the 100m sprint.

His memorable performances include his seemingly flying expression of running just above the track and then deliberately pausing as he crosses the finish line! In 2009, Bolt completed the 100m in only 9.58 seconds.

Another athlete, Javier Sotomayor has held the 2.45m high jump record since 1993. To this day he is unbeatable.

sports winner's podium in empty sports arena
Maths is needed to calculate times, distances, and heights in different sporting events. - Source: Unsplash

The list goes on, Renaud Lavillenie caused a stir when he broke a 21-year-old 6.16m pole jump record held by Ukrainian Serguei Bubka.

What about New Zealander William Trubridge who has beaten his own freediving world record 25 times.

By now you might be seeing how the application of mathematics in different fields is more far-reaching than you realised. Athletes are still beating records, but surely there is a physical limit to what the human body can achieve.

The question is, is mathematics in our world responsible for these incredible results? Consider the role of technology in sport these days and the coaches and athletes who use it and the answer could be that jobs that require math skills are much more surprising than you would think!

Using Technology in Sport

Ahead of the famous Springboks victory at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, coach Rassie Erasmus revealed that the team relied heavily on the use of technology. Software for game simulation to see what upcoming matches are likely to look like, as well as software that analyses individual player performance and weaknesses were all used.

You might remember the swimming championships held in Rome in 2009. Records were beaten like never before. In fact, 43 new records were set in only a few days and journalists were at a loss to explain the phenomenon.

The same has been seen in cycling where technical improvement of bicycles has played a significant role in performance. Consider the lighter materials used to make bicycles more aerodynamic, or how helmets are designed to avoid drag.  In all sport, the development of sporting equipment that is based on scientific evidence is literally revolutionising how we know it.

How Uses of Maths Cans Improve Athletes’ Technical Skills 

By now you can see that there are some unexpected jobs that require math skills. Athletes, coaches, equipment developers, and administrators in the world of sport is evidence that there exists an application of mathematics in different fields.

These days, professional athletes no longer attend major events with only their physiotherapists, coach, and nutritionist, some even take along their own mathematicians!

What?

It’s true. The Australians and New Zealanders took mathematicians along as part of their teams to the 2016 Rio Olympics!

For these analysts, their role as part of the team is to gather data, consider the conditions, and then produce performance statistics that are used to optimise the athlete’s future training.

The goal is to aim for perfection and to try and get as close to this as possible. So not only are maths uses in real life extensive, it seems that there are more jobs that require math skills than one would imagine!

The Uses of Maths for a Running Track

It may sound crazy but there are actually important uses of maths when it comes to calculating the perfect trajectory of a running track. In fact, some would go so far as to say that mathematical equations have become the scientific bedrock on which elite sports are now built.

We have already mentioned that they serve as a measure for performance, but they can be taken further than that! One example is that of Amandine Aftalion from the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) who created a model to demonstrate the optimum path for runners to take when considering environmental conditions and the following:

  • race distance
  • lung capacity
  • maximum propulsion force
  • energy intake
  • the friction created between athlete and atmosphere
numbered lanes on running track
Complex Maths equations are used to calculate the optimum running trajectory. - Source: Unsplash

A Selection Tool

Mathematics in sport is used to not only improve athletic performance, but mathematicians have even developed a tool that can determine which athletes have the highest amount of potential for improvement. Not only this, the uses of maths in determining sports outcomes have reached unprecedented levels because these mathematicians can even predict the potential number of medals that an athlete will win!

By doing this, teams are taking maths uses in real life to new heights by building on the skills of their best athletes and it’s working. At the most recent Olympics, Great Britain achieved second place in terms of gold medals after the USA.

So while maths can help you manage your finances, as you can see mathematics in our world is evident in every sphere of life. This is why it is essential to lay solid Mathematical foundations for children.

Mathematics in Our World of Football

Professional football like so many other sports has become like a science. Through complex analysis that is seeing ground-breaking results, statistics are a key criterion by coaches as they select and prepare players for major tournaments.

In this way, the application of mathematics in different fields – even coaching and sports management – allows for strategic decision making that is based on local and reasoning and less on gut instinct.

Statistics are impersonal, so when a coach needs to inform an athlete of a decision using real-time data, it is not personal.

Applying and understanding these elements means training sessions take on a whole new meaning. It is a method that is proving to be indispensable as it offers athletes unique insight into the micro details of where and how they can improve.

black and white soccer ball on green pitch
Selectors and coaches use statistics to select and prepare football players for tournaments. - Source: Unsplash

The other huge benefit of using modern technology is that it gives us the means to collect data in real-time. Because of this, when a problem is detected, the solution is easier to find.

One example could be the trackers that are worn by athletes to transmit recorded information that is analysed by software after the race is finished. These days, tennis rackets, cycling helmets, and t-shirt include trackers. This is how deep mathematics in our world is going!

Depending on the type of sport, the business of measuring real-time data through high-tech trackers can differ. For instance, a specialised rugby helmet could measure the force of impact to alert both user and team to the potential risk of concussion or even serious head injury.

Coaches and managers have begun to rely on these innovative tools. For instance, trainers can monitor fatigue levels of players during a football match. Using this data assists them to make decisions about switching players and adjusting their game plan.

Amateur Athletes and Technology

It is not far-fetched to say that if you are getting into fitness that you might want to brush up on your maths skills. If you are unsure how to calculate a percentage or solve an equation, you may struggle to interpret the following statistical data offered by your tracking technology:

  • average speed
  • heart rate
  • distance
  • calories

This is invaluable information to be able to begin comparing the performances of your training sessions while discovering what works best for you. Once you start using technology to train, you will never be able to look back. This is probably one of the reasons why tech accessories like mobile apps and fitness watches like Garmin and Fitbit are now a huge industry.

Considering all of this, it certainly makes sense that the performance of elite athletes is on the rise, but in the same way, amateurs are also reaching and creating new goals!

Now that maths is an important part of all kinds of sport at all levels, research and development will continue unabated to keep increasing human performance which takes us back to one of our first questions:

Is there a physical limit that the human body can achieve?

Time will certainly tell, but could it be that we are limited only by our minds and that as technology does the job of telling us what we are truly capable of, the capacity of human performance continues to rise to the occasion?

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Niki

Niki is a content writer from Cape Town, South Africa, who is passionate about words, strategic communication and using words to help create and maintain brand personas. Niki has a PR and marketing background, but her happiest place is when she is bringing a story to life on a page.