The untold facts of how basketball changes lives...& physics

What types of motion does basketball involve?

Basketball involves numerous types of motion. A few examples of the forces that affect basketball are gravity, friction, magnus, air resistance, momentum, launch angle and more.
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What is the role of air resistance or friction in basketball?

In basketball, a shot with a backspin is more likely to go in the hoop. The ball has more friction because its rotating, making it go slower. Magnus force happens as well. When there’s uneven friction in the air, there’s an unbalanced force on the basketball, which makes it curve slightly in motion. Air resistance happens with a drag. It affects the ball a lot more in outdoor games than it would in indoor.
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How does Newton's first law relate to basketball?

Isaac Newton's first law of motion states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest, while an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless an external force acts upon it. If the basketball didn’t have forces acting upon it, the ball would go on forever. Gravity pulls the ball down to earth, so you have to see how much gravity is acting on the ball to know the right path and angle to make the shot. Air resistance also acts on the ball. Friction would slow it down each bounce if you didn’t apply more force to the basketball.
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How does Newton's second law relate to basketball?

Newton's second law of motion states that acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass (of the object being accelerated) the greater the amount of force needed (to accelerate the object). Because the ball has mass, you have to apply more force onto it to make the forces unbalanced to get it to move. If you wanted to dribble the ball in a different direction, then you would have to apply a force in that direction. If you want to dribble slower, then you have to apply less force to the ball. In basketball you have to accelerate the ball downwards when you dribble to make it move the way you want it too.

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How does Newton's third law relate to basketball?

Newton's third law states that for every force there is an equal and opposite reaction. Action and reaction occurs in basketball with many things. One example is when you shoot the ball at the basket, you are adding a force to the ball to make it move. When it hits the backboard, it goes in a different direction as a reaction.

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What types of equipment are used in basketball?

Are there any connections between physics and the equipment used?

What speeds are reached in basketball? Acceleration interval?

“You can be strong and slow, that is, strong but unable to apply the force quickly (no power). Speed is directly related to your ability to apply force. You cannot be weak and fast.” Endurance is needed to be in the game. The maximum speed that could be reached is seldom. High speed starting, acceleration, cutting and stopping are components to speeds in basketball. Acceleration intervals in basketball include short burst of speed that end once the basket is made or the ball goes out. Gravity causes acceleration to occur, even with the basketball.
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How is technology used to enhance the sport?

There is new technology to help the referees in basketball. They film, use instant replay, and they use other high-tech aids to help referees make the right call.
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How is momentum used/dealt with in basketball?/What are the energy conversions in this sport?

When a basketball bounces on the court, its bounce actually loses momentum. The bounce doesn’t reach the height it was dropped from. This means that to dribble the basketball, players must continually replace the transferred energy by pushing down force onto the ball towards the ground. This helps replace the lost momentum and use the conserved energy.
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How is energy conserved in basketball?

Energy cannot be created nor destroyed. Rather, energy is conserved. Energy changes from one form to another while the total energy of the system remains constant. The energy changes between potential and kinetic energy. When dribbling a ball, players are converting potential energy into kinetic energy. When the player is holding the ball, the ball has potential energy, the energy is being stored, waiting to be used.

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By: Chloe Barker and Kate Harris


"The Physics of Basketball." The Physics of Basketball. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Oct. 2015.

"Forces." The Physics of Basketball. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2015.

"How Do the Laws of Motion Apply to Basketball?" LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 04 Feb. 2014. Web. 9 Oct. 2015.