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How It Works Essay

1482 words - 6 pages

Physics is a part of everyday life. It is evident in the modern technological devices we use in every day experiences and objects around us. Although physics is understood to be only useful in the classroom, physics can also be applied to one the most popular activities on the planet, basketball. Whether jumping for the ball, or leaping for a slam dunk, the human body follows the same laws of projectile motion as do other objects. The sport that includes shooting, passing, running, and dribbling involves topics covered in physics such as force, friction, effects of air resistance, velocity, air pressure and energy. Basketball also involves factors such as projectile motion in making a basket, gravity and its effects on passing and dribbling, and Newton’s First and Third Law on passing and a number of others.
Passing is perhaps one of the most important components of the sport. A game would be impossible without the assistance of passing and team work. To successfully carryout a pass, many factors have to be taken into account. In order to begin a pass, first a player must exert a force on the basketball. Once the ball leaves the hands of the player, it becomes a projectile. A projectile is acted upon by two independent forces: the x and y components. The x component is the force exerted on the ball by the player while the y component is pulled by the force of gravity, -9.8m/s². As a result of the independent components, the ball will travel in a downward parabolic path, or trajectory. Since the ball travels a downward path, the player throws the ball towards a target located a little higher than where the player wishes the ball would go in order to compensate for the downward path. Another factor that affects the successfulness of a pass is the state of motion of the player receiving the ball. If the player is stationary, the ball needs to be thrown directly to the player. However, if the player is in motion, the ball must be slightly thrown in front of or behind the player depending on the direction of the player’s motion to ensure that the ball reaches the target because the moving player is continually progressing perpendicular to the ball while the ball is traveling perpendicular to the player. This is a result of Newton’s First Law, which states that an object in motion will remain in motion and an object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an outside force.
Another important part of the game of basketball is dribbling the basketball. When the basketball falls to the ground or is dribbled, the ball bounces back. This occurs due to the elastic collision that occurs between the ball and the ground. A perfect elastic collision is defined as a collision of particles in a closed system where the kinetic energy is conserved. The elasticity of a basketball can be determined by the height the ball rebounds. Depending on the air pressure inside the ball, the basketball can achieve as much as 80% elasticity. The air pressure of the...

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