Basketball By Josh Davis Siddharth Reddy and Ayman Ghaddar

There are many parts of basketball including shooting, moving, and dribbling. Physics applies to these aspects of basketball in many different ways.


In this video there are many aspects of physics going on. When Steph Curry shoots the ball, he also jumps, which helps to accelerate the ball up and forward. It also gives him an advantage over his opponents as he is able to release the ball at a much higher height, but when he reaches his peak height, he starts falling, due to gravity. The ball moves up, it gains potential energy, and loses kinetic energy. After the ball reaches its peak height, it starts converting, or conserving, its energy by changing the potential energy into kinetic energy. No energy is created or destroyed when it rises and falls, but the potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, and visa versa. When the ball reaches its peak height in the air, it starts to descend because the momentum is decreased due to gravity. The more force applied, the further the ball will ascend before it will start to descend. Therefore, when less force is applied on the ball, it will result in a smaller height and you will see it descend much sooner than you would if more force was applied. Also the friction from the air drags the ball just a tiny bit, but not enough to make a noticeable difference.

For the perfect shot, there needs to be a perfect angle and velocity. The shot has to be in the perfect direction and has to have the perfect force. The shot has to be up and forward to get a good arch. The perfect shot needs a perfect velocity and perfect placement so it can correctly bounce off the backboard and through the net.

When the ball hits the backboard, the backboard has to push back with the same force, as it states in Newton's Third Law of Physics. Force pairs are why the basketball bounces off the backboard, which makes Nick Young miss the shot.


Dribbling is a huge aspect of basketball, the physics behind it consists of momentum, the gravitational exertion, the speed of the basketball, and direct contact force being applied to the basketball. To start off, dribbling has a lot to do with direct contact force. The force is mainly generated from your arms. The more force you exert upon the basketball, the faster it will be able to push forward against the friction from the air. Gravity helps when dribbling because it makes so less force and energy is needed. The more force, the faster the ball will bounce back up to you. Some of the best ball handlers in the world have some of the fastest handles. Training your handles strengthens your arms allowing you to apply more force. When the basketball is rising up, it has to fight through the gravitation pull against it so theoretically, it would be easier to dribble on the moon. It would also be harder to dribble on the moon than it is on Earth because there is less gravity to help the ball on the way down.

The more the gravity, the more force you will be required to generate in order for the ball to come back to your hands. However, the less gravity the less force is needed for the ball to come back to your hands. The reason the ball bounces is that it is made of a bouncy material. Also the ground pushes up at the ball with the same force that the ball hit the ground with. This is called force pairs. That combined with the material of the basketball make the ball bounce.

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