The Physics of Basketball

1338 Words3 Pages

The Physics of Basketball

The more and more I look around I begin to see how physics are integrated into practically everything that we do. These things would surely go unnoticed without making a conscious effort to notice them. For example simple things like riding a bike, or driving a car, or playing catch with a son or daughter. Just as these activities are loaded with elements of physics, sports are also, especially basketball. Physics play a part in every aspect of the game, from dribbling, passing, and shooting, to things as simple as setting a screen. First we should take a look at the elements of dribbling.

Dribbling is all based on conservation of energy and the two different types of collisions, elastic and inelastic. The more air pressure a basketball has inside it, the less its surface will bend or deform during a bounce, and the more its original energy will be stored in the compressed air inside (Bill Willis, 2001). The reason for this is that the air inside of the ball can return the energy of the ball better than that of the material of the ball, which is usually leather. This is the basic concept of the conservation on energy.

A reason to inflate the ball more is to produce a more elastic collision between the ball and the surface it is hitting. The more inflated the ball is the less energy is lost in the deformation of the ball, ensuring you that it will bounce back. The less energy that is lost in this process will make the collision more elastic, and produce a better bounce of the basketball.

Another aspect of basketball that relates to collisions in the very basic, but useful technique of setting a “screen” or “pick.” This collision is more of an inelastic process that involves one player runn...

... middle of paper ...

...I step foot on the floor. Sometimes I think we get lazy and don’t take the time to think about how physics affect our lives, because you don’t realize how integrated physics are in every thing we do until you have to look at things critically. With this newfound

knowledge, hopefully I will be able to play basketball just a little bit better.


1).Kirkpatrick, Larry D. and Wheeler, Gerald F. Physics a World View. 4th ed. Fort Worth, Philadelphia, San Diego, New York, Orlando, Austin, San Antonio, Toronto, Montreal, London, Sydney, Tokyo: Barrosse and Vondeling, 2001

2).Willis, Bill. The Physics of Basketball. 30 April 2003

3).Unknown. The Physics of Basketball. 1 May 2003 Basketball.html

More about The Physics of Basketball

Open Document