The Physics of Basketball Essay

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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.
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Some of this energy is transferred to the other player, but if they are properly setting the pick that player should not move. Since both players come essentially to rest, we can say that the energy was lost through and inelastic collision.

Another basic element of basketball is that of passing the ball to another teammate. The physics involved in this process are velocity, momentum, and impulse. The ball has a mass and when it is thrown a velocity of the ball in created. From these two parts momentum is derived, P=mv (Kirkpatrick Wheeler 106). While playing basketball it may be to your advantage to increase or decrease the momentum of the ball when passing to a teammate depending upon the situation.

When receiving a pass you catch or slow the balls momentum to zero, which is called impulse, the interaction that changes an object’s momentum-a force acting for a time interval (Kirkpatrick Wheeler 107). This is shown in an equation form by, F=P/Dt. By increasing the time over which you decelerate the ball, you lessen the force (Bill Willis 2001). This increase of ‘stopping” time will make it easier to catch and control the ball.

Impulse is the same concept in many things like the automotive airbag, seatbelts, and landing pads for high jumpers. All of these are meant to slow the person down over

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