Basketball Mania!


Every year March Madness gives people basketball fever! Many fans have a favorite team they cheer for. Whether you enjoy watching the games, making brackets, or playing at recess, basketball can be exciting! But if you want to master the skills of the game, you need to understand some of the science of basketball.

The player with the basketball must dribble as they move around the court. When the basketball is held at waist level it has potential energy. When the player drops the ball to the court, gravity pulls it to the ground. Potential energy is converted to kinetic energy, and the ball bounces back up after hitting the ground. This dribbling motion is an example of Newton’s third law of motion; for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Let’s face it, everyone likes to win. To win a basketball game, you must score, and scoring requires teamwork. Players pass to one other by pushing the ball away from their bodies with their arms and fingers. The teammate receiving the basketball controls the motion of the ball. Then, they either make another pass, dribble, or take a shot. When players shoot, they apply an upward, pushing force to the ball. Eventually, gravity pulls the ball back down. The initial pushing force applied to the ball, along with gravity, gives the basketball a curved path of motion. Sometimes the ball follows the perfect arc and swooshes through the net. Other times, it may bounce off the rim or backboard before going in. Experienced players know that putting backspin on the ball increases its chances of going into the hoop. When bouncing off a rim, a ball with backspin loses more energy than a ball without spin. The ball with less energy loses speed and is more likely to bounce softly into the air and back down into the net. Score!

What Do You Think? Why do some players always use the backboard when they take a foul shot?

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