Fall Weather Week: How colder temperatures can affect football games

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Whether it’s high school, college, or the NFL… what’s fall without football? 

As the daylight hours get shorter, we’re seeing our average temperatures drop…a drop of 30 degrees from mid-August to late-November. 

For early-season practices and games, we can have high temperatures flirt with 90 degrees.  By season’s end, evening temperatures can dip well into the 40s. That has an effect on the players…and the ball. 

While the New England Patriots had “deflate-gate,” footballs deflate all the time as temperatures cool. 

When temperatures drop 10 degrees, air pressure in the ball drops by one pound per square inch. 

That may not sound like much, but during quickly dropping evening temperatures, a football may lose 20% of its air. 

That makes the ball less bouncy, so it comes off the kicker’s foot at a slower speed…and won’t travel as far.     

At the same time, colder air is denser than warmer air, so the ball won’t go quite as far. 

Thirty degrees of temperature change equals about five yards of distance. 

Assuming there’s now wind, this means field goals that sail through the uprights early in the season may come up short later on. 

Players are also affected as it gets colder outside. 

Cold air irritates the respiratory system, making it harder to catch one’s breath. 

The body has to work harder to keep the core temperature up, meaning fatigue settle in sooner. 

Lees blood is sent to the extremities such as fingers so the body can keep its core temperature up.  This can reduce a player’s grip on the ball, increasing the chances for fumbles or bad passes. 

Players are also more susceptible to muscle tightness, further slowing them down 

By the end of the season, everyone has to work harder to make that perfect play.  

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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