Monday, February 02, 2009

More On The Physics Of Basketball

Here's something that sorta re-enforced what was mentioned earlier. John Fontanella, the author of "The Physics of Basketball", explains why tall men in the game seems to have more problems in making either a jump shot or a free throw. It has to do with the angle and trajectory of the ball.

“This gives an extra reason that Wilt and Shaq are poor free-throw shooters,” Fontanella wrote in an e-mail. “If they were trained by people of average height, they were probably trained incorrectly. They were probably taught to shoot like a shorter person and that’s wrong. A big man needs to shoot the ball in a slightly different way in order to take advantage of the physics.”

Fontanella said that launch angle and angle of approach of the ball are pivotal in free throw shooting. Angle of approach is the angle between the horizontal and the velocity of the ball when the ball is directly above the front of the hoop. It’s the angle in which a basketball “sees” the hoop at its largest opening as opposed to a ball coming toward the hoop at an acute angle.

It also means that to improve the "effective surface area" of the hoop that the ball sees, one might want to consider shooting the ball underhanded, which was the argument used earlier. Unfortunately, this might work only for free throws, because doing such a shot during the rest of the game is just inviting it to be blocked way too easily.


1 comment:

Jiuning said...

Shaq should learn free shot from Yao Ming.