There are many aspects to the game of basketball and physics can be applied to all of them. Although to be good at basketball it is not necessary to play it from a physics point of view. Basketball players become good by developing muscle memory for the actions that must be performed in the game of basketball from years of practice. Nevertheless knowing some of the physics in the game of basketball can help a good player be a better player. In this paper I will cover the three most important aspects of the game, shooting, dribbling and passing.
The most important part of the game of basketball is shooting the basketball, after all the object of the game is to put the basketball through the basket. A shot is taken by a player pushing on the ball and launching it toward the basket and upon the ball hitting the rim or backboard physics refers to this action as a contact force. Using this concept of contact force a shot can be calculated exactly. From a player’s height, the mass of the ball and a given position on the court which would include the distance from the basket it is possible to calculate the exact angle and force the shooter must apply to make a basket every time he or she shoots the ball. Of course if it were this easy basketball would not be as fun to watch or play. The problem with hitting a shot every time with the calculated angle and force is that the ball would have to travel toward the basket with the exact angle and force calculated for that particular shot. What makes this difficult is that the muscles in our body would have to be controlled flawlessly to push the ball with the exact amount of force and to give the ball the exact angle that is needed every time a shot is taken...
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...the more energy is lost and the less the ball bounces back. The less denting that occurs, the more energy is kept and the higher the ball bounces back.
Physics can be used to explain a lot of things. In this paper I described some basic concepts in physics that are relevant to basketball, particularly the three main parts of basketball, shooting, dribbling and passing. So the next time you are out shooting some hoops just think of all the physics that are being applied and you could be one step away from being a physicist, and have fun.
Kirkpatric, Larry; Wheeler, Gerald, Physics A World View, fourth edition
Schmidt, Michael; Oberlies, James; Moogan, Kevien, The Physics of Basketball, 2002 http://www.sjprep.org/bio/basketball7/
Willis, Bill; The Physics of Basketball, 2001, http://www.geocities.com/thesciencefiles/physicsof/basketball.html/
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