Sports Research


1. Lithio, Dan, Eric Webb, Tim Pennings. 2006. Optimizing a volleyball serve. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Undergraduate Math Journal 7(2).
Abstract: An optimal volleyball serve is one that gives the receiving team minimal time to react. That is, it is one in which the ball goes over the net and hits the floor in the shortest amount of time. This paper models the flight of a served volleyball acted upon by gravity, air resistance, and the effects of spin. Coefficients of drag and spin were determined via crude but ingeniously effective experiments, and the trajectories of theoretical models were compared with actual trajectories of volleyballs shot from a launcher. Finally, we use the model to find the optimal serves while varying the height of the serve, the amount of spin, and the total distance traveled.

Presented at
o Michigan Research Experience for Undergraduates Conference, Mt. Pleasant, MI, 2006

Work in Progress:

2. Using Past Scores and Regularization to Create a Winning NFL Betting Model
Status: Work in Progress
Collaborator: Wayne Winston
Abstract: Is the National Football League betting market efficient? We have devised a profitable betting model that would win 52.9% of the 7,554 bets against the spread it would have made over 33 seasons. Scores from previous weeks are used to estimate the point value of each team’s offense and defense. These values predict next week’s scores, and a bet is placed against the advertised spread. The sum of squares of offensive/defensive point values are constrained to be less than a regularization constant.

Presented at
o INFORMS Annual Meeting, Nashville, TN, 2016
o Poster at the INFORMS Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, 2015
o Poster at the Cincinnati-Dayton INFORMS Symposium, Dayton, OH, 2014

Current Projects

3. Predicting Day-to-Day Variability in Baseball Attendance to Support Staffing
Status: Work in Progress
Collaborators: Wen Shuenn Deng, Yi-Chen Lin