Faster, Higher, Smarter

Faster, Higher, Smarter


Have you ever tried a new sport? If so, there’s a good chance you weren’t good at it the first time. With most sports, there’s a lot to learn. Some athletes hit plateaus during their training. Maybe a baseball player can’t quite break that .300 batting average, or the pole vaulter can’t quite make 13 feet. Maybe a swimmer is trying to break a world record. It took centuries for a man to run a sub-four minute mile until Roger Bannister did it in 1954. Since then it’s been done more than 4,500 times. In each example, the athletes needed to learn, train, and in some cases innovate the sport itself.

TableTop Soccer

You and a partner are now going to play a new sport, Tabletop Soccer, against another pair of players. See the Tabletop Soccer student sheet for how to play. Try a variety of strategies to win. Make notes of what works and what doesn’t in the table. Play the game twice, each person having a turn on offense and defense. Then play again against a different pair of opponents. Once play concludes, return to this page to continue the lesson.

Stragegy What Works What Doesn't Work


Faster, Higher, Smarter

To reach the top of a sport takes tremendous dedication and hard work. Sometimes, it takes a radical change in how the sport is played. In the book, Faster, Higher Smarter: Bright Ideas That Transformed Sports, you will learn about several sports and the innovations that took athletes to the next level.

Your teacher will assign you a sport from the book. Your job is to read that chapter, study the science behind the innovation, and explain it to the class. You can use the resources on the Faster, Higher, Smarter student esheet to help you with your research.

Sport: _____________________

1. What was it about the sport that needed improving?


2. What changes were made to improve performance in this sport?


3. What science principles were involved in the innovation?


4. How did others react to this innovation? Was it widely accepted at first? Eventually?



Now use what you've learned about the sport and the innovation to create a lesson. You can choose to do a PowerPoint slide show, a poster, or a short video to do the lesson. For the PowerPoint, you should be sure to have at least six slides: one for introduction, one for each of the questions you should answer, and one for the conclusion. For the poster, you should include a title, your names, at least four images with captions for explaining your answers to the questions, and perhaps an introduction and conclusion. If you choose to do a short video, you should still be sure to address all of the questions in it.



After hearing about all of the sports in the book, answer these questions.

1. There are several scientific concepts that recur through the book. Describe each one below.

  • Kinetic Energy


  • Elastic Potential Energy


  • Energy Conversion


  • Newton’s Laws of Motion


  •  Friction and Air Resistance


  • Simple Machines – Specifically levers


2. Which concepts might be used to improve performance in the Tabletop Soccer game? How?


3. Brainstorm some ideas to improve the three key aspects of the game.  

  • The goalie:



  • The offensive player:



  • The shooter:



With your partner, decide which ideas seem most promising, and make those changes. Once you have completed changes, you will play the game again to see if your ideas prove to be effective.


TableTop Soccer Revisited

You will now play the game again. This time, your teacher will organize a tournament to determine which players have improved game play the most. If you are eliminated from the tournament, it is important for you to watch other matches to evaluate the effectiveness of other groups’ innovations.

Tournament Questions

Answer these questions based on the tournament you just participated in.

How effective were your changes to the game? Did your idea produce the results that you thought it would?


What scientific principles were you trying to take advantage of to improve your game play?


What changes seemed to be the most effective?


What scientific principles were used in the most effective strategies?


What might you change before playing again?


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