Team Physics -
Created by: Team Physics -, Last Updated: July 3, 2024


Friction is the resistive force that occurs when two surfaces come into contact and move or attempt to move relative to each other. It acts opposite to the direction of motion and is caused by microscopic interactions between surfaces. Friction enables activities like walking and driving, while also generating heat and causing wear. The friction formula is f = μN, where f is the frictional force, μ is the coefficient of friction, and N is the normal force. The laws of friction state that friction is independent of the contact area and directly proportional to the normal force.

What Is Friction?

Friction is the resistive force that occurs when two surfaces interact and move against each other. This force opposes the relative motion or the tendency of such motion between the surfaces. It is a crucial factor in everyday life, influencing activities ranging from walking to the functioning of machines. Friction can be classified into several types, such as static, kinetic, and rolling friction, each playing a significant role in various physical phenomena.

Friction Formula

The formula for friction depends on the type of friction being considered, but the most commonly used formula is for static and kinetic friction. The frictional force FfF_fFf​ can be expressed as:



  • Fբ is the frictional force.
  • μ is the coefficient of friction, which depends on the materials of the surfaces in contact.
  • Fₙ​ is the normal force, which is the perpendicular force exerted by a surface on an object in contact with it.

Examples of Friction

Examples of Friction
  1. Walking: When we walk, the friction between our shoes and the ground prevents us from slipping. This static friction allows us to push against the ground and move forward.
  2. Driving a Car: The tires of a car grip the road due to friction. This frictional force allows the car to accelerate, decelerate, and turn safely.
  3. Writing with a Pencil: Friction between the pencil tip and paper enables the graphite to leave a mark on the paper. Without this friction, writing would be impossible.
  4. Lighting a Match: Striking a match against the rough surface of a matchbox generates frictional heat, igniting the matchstick.
  5. Climbing a Hill: The friction between our shoes and the slope provides the necessary grip to climb without slipping backward.
  6. Braking a Bicycle: When we apply the brakes on a bicycle, the brake pads create friction against the wheels, slowing down or stopping the bicycle.
  7. Rubbing Hands Together: Rubbing our hands together generates heat due to friction, helping to warm them up in cold weather.
  8. Opening a Jar: The friction between our hands and the jar lid helps us grip and twist it open.
  9. Playing Sports: Athletes rely on friction between their shoes and the playing surface to run, jump, and change direction quickly without slipping.
  10. Using Sandpaper: Sandpaper works by creating friction between its rough surface and the material being smoothed or shaped, wearing it down gradually.
  11. Using a Nail File: The friction between the nail file and the nail surface helps to shape and smooth the nails.
  12. Skiing: While skiing, friction between the skis and snow slows down the skier, and controlling this friction is crucial for maneuvering and stopping.

20 Examples of Friction in our Daily Life

  1. Biking: Friction between the bike’s brake pads and the rims slows down the bike.
  2. Lighting a Fire: Friction between two sticks generates heat to start a fire.
  3. Walking on Ice: Reduced friction on ice makes it difficult to walk without slipping.
  4. Kicking a Ball: Friction between the ball and the ground affects how far and fast the ball travels.
  5. Typing on a Keyboard: Friction between your fingers and the keys helps in pressing the keys.
  6. Cutting with a Knife: Friction between the knife blade and the material being cut affects the ease of cutting.
  7. Applying Makeup: Friction between the makeup brush and the skin helps in applying makeup evenly.
  8. Turning Pages: Friction between your fingers and the paper allows you to turn pages of a book.
  9. Playing Sports: Friction between the sports equipment and the playing surface affects performance, such as a basketball dribbling on the court.
  10. Screwing a Lightbulb: Friction between the lightbulb threads and the socket holds the bulb in place.
  11. Cleaning Surfaces: Friction between the cleaning cloth or sponge and the surface helps in removing dirt and stains.
  12. Buttoning a Shirt: Friction between the button and the buttonhole keeps the shirt fastened.
  13. Using Chopsticks: Friction between the chopsticks and the food allows for picking up and holding the food.
  14. Knitting or Crocheting: Friction between the yarn and the needles or hook helps in creating stitches.
  15. Filing Nails: Friction between the nail file and the nails smooths and shapes them.
  16. Running: Friction between running shoes and the ground provides traction and prevents slipping.
  17. Writing on a Chalkboard: Friction between the chalk and the chalkboard leaves a mark.
  18. Using Velcro: Friction between the hook and loop surfaces keeps Velcro fastened.
  19. Opening a Can: Friction between the can opener and the lid helps to cut open the can.
  20. Using a Remote Control: Friction between the remote control buttons and your fingers helps in pressing the buttons.

Friction Examples for Kids

  1. Brushing Teeth: Friction between the toothbrush bristles and your teeth helps remove plaque.
  2. Swinging a Baseball Bat: Friction between your hands and the bat helps you grip it firmly.
  3. Drawing with Chalk: Friction between the chalk and the chalkboard or sidewalk allows you to draw.
  4. Using a Computer Mouse: Friction between the mouse and the mouse pad helps you move the cursor on the screen.
  5. Petting a Cat or Dog: Friction between your hand and the animal’s fur creates a pleasant feeling for both of you.
  6. Playing with Playdough: Friction between your hands and the playdough helps you shape and mold it.
  7. Bouncing a Basketball: Friction between the basketball and the floor makes the ball bounce up and down.
  8. Sliding a Book on a Table: Friction between the book and the table slows down its movement.
  9. Building with LEGO: Friction between the LEGO bricks keeps them connected.
  10. Riding a Scooter: Friction between the scooter wheels and the ground helps you move forward and stop.
  11. Swinging on Monkey Bars: Friction between your hands and the bars helps you hold on and swing.
  12. Using a Remote Control Car: Friction between the car’s wheels and the ground affects its speed and movement.
  13. Peeling an Orange: Friction between your fingers and the orange peel helps you remove it.
  14. Opening a Ziplock Bag: Friction between the bag’s edges and your fingers helps you open and close it.
  15. Sliding on Carpet: Friction between your socks and the carpet helps you move without slipping

Types of Friction

Type of FrictionActs OnRelative MagnitudeExamples
StaticStationary objectsHighestBook on a table, heavy box
KineticSliding objectsModerateSliding book, car brakes
RollingRolling objectsLowSoccer ball, bicycle wheels
FluidObjects in fluidsVariableAirplane, fish swimming

Static Friction

Static friction is the force that resists the initiation of sliding motion between two surfaces in contact. For example, when you try to push a heavy box, it doesn’t move until you apply enough force to overcome the static friction between the box and the floor.

Kinetic (Sliding) Friction

Kinetic friction, also known as sliding friction, occurs when two surfaces are already moving relative to each other. For Example, when you slide a book across a table, kinetic friction acts between the book and the table, slowing it down.

Rolling Friction

Rolling friction is the force resisting the motion when an object rolls on a surface.
An example is when you push a toy car; rolling friction between the wheels and the floor slows it down.

Fluid Friction

Fluid friction, also known as drag, occurs when an object moves through a fluid, which can be either a liquid or a gas.
For example, when you swim in water, fluid friction acts against your motion, making it harder to move through the water.

Applications of Friction

1. Braking Systems

Friction is crucial in braking systems, such as car brakes and bicycle brakes. When you apply the brakes, friction between the brake pads and the wheels slows down or stops the vehicle.

2. Walking and Running

Friction between your shoes and the ground allows you to walk or run without slipping. This grip is essential for maintaining balance and movement.

3. Writing and Drawing

Writing instruments like pencils, pens, and chalk rely on friction between the writing tool and the paper or board. This friction allows the tool to leave a mark.

4. Manufacturing Processes

Friction is used in various manufacturing processes, such as sanding, grinding, and polishing. These processes involve friction to smooth surfaces or shape materials.

5. Sporting Activities

Friction plays a significant role in sports. For example, friction between a basketball and the court allows for dribbling, while friction between soccer cleats and the grass provides grip for running and changing direction.

Importance of Friction

  • Provides Traction: Friction is essential for walking or driving. Without it, we would slip and slide.
  • Enables Braking: Cars and bicycles rely on friction for their braking systems to work.
  • Allows Movement: Friction between surfaces allows us to grip and manipulate objects.
  • Generates Heat: Friction can convert kinetic energy into heat, which can be useful or detrimental depending on the context.


How does friction affect motion?

Friction slows down or stops the motion of objects when they rub against each other.

Why is friction necessary?

Friction is necessary for everyday activities, like walking, driving, and holding objects.

How can friction be reduced?

Friction can be reduced by using lubricants, smoothening surfaces, or using wheels and ball bearings.

How does friction produce heat?

Friction produces heat due to the energy conversion from kinetic energy to thermal energy during motion.

What is the coefficient of friction?

The coefficient of friction is a number that represents the friction between two objects, dependent on their materials.

Can friction be completely eliminated?

Friction cannot be completely eliminated, but it can be minimized with proper techniques and materials.

How do brakes use friction?

Brakes create friction between brake pads and wheels, converting kinetic energy to heat and slowing down the vehicle.

What is kinetic friction?

Kinetic friction is the force opposing the motion of two surfaces already sliding past each other.

How does friction impact energy efficiency?

Friction in machines causes energy loss as heat, reducing efficiency and requiring more energy to maintain motion.

What role does friction play in sports?

Friction allows athletes to grip surfaces, like shoes on a track, and control movements, like dribbling a basketball.

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