Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Football Gloves

PostedSeptember 11, 2019

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Lede: It’s certainly not cold weather for today’s Redskins-Cowboys game, but you’ll probably see the receivers wearing gloves anyway.

Randy Atkins: Sticky gloves are likely contributing to highlight reel football catches says Peko Hosoi, an engineer and director of M-I-T’s sports lab. To test the hypothesis, she gripped a football with both gloved and bare hands.

Peko Hosoi: And we just pulled on it to measure the force.

Randy Atkins: What it took to pry the ball loose. Hosoi found the gloves hold on at least 20-percent better…a huge advantage in top-level athletics.

Peko Hosoi: The stickiness is coming from the fact that the surface of the glove is really compliant and so it can conform to all of the little bumps and all of the roughness on the ball. It makes it harder for the ball to slide out of your grip.

Randy Atkins: Hosoi says the gloves’ molecular makeup might be helping too.

Peko Hosoi: I think that if you played around, not just with the material but also with the structure, you could make these even better.

Randy Atkins: So defenses beware! With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.