Why is it better for a discus to be thrown into the wind instead of with the wind?

In most sports, throwing or traveling with the wind at your back (called tail wind) is a lot easier than working against the wind (called a head wind). In football, teams flip a coin to determine who will be kicking with the wind. In sailing, it is easier and faster to travel perpendicular to or with the wind and takes more skill to travel against the wind. In track, the world record in the 100-meter dash could more easily be broken if running with a strong tail wind. In most sports, having the wind at your back can be a major advantage.

In the field event of discus throwing, however, the advantage comes when there is a head wind. In fact, it has been documented that a discus can travel up to 8 meters (26 feet) further while experiencing a head wind of only 10 m/s (meters per second). Although the discus still experiences a drag force from the head wind, the lift that the discus gets from pressure differences over and under the disc is substantially more significant than the drag force. Because the discus will remain in the air longer, it will travel farther.


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