FearOfPhysics.com: Projectile Motion

Make a Basketball Jumpshot Every Time!

Using the laws of physics, it's possible to make a jumpshot in basketball every time. That's right, if you stand at some point on the court, and throw the ball up at just the right angle and just the right speed, you can make it every time. Here's how:

The setup for a jump shot involves the things in this figure:

  • How tall you are. This governs how high the ball is from the ground when you shoot it.
  • How far you are from the basket. Three point shot? Free throw? Jump shot?

You can make your shot by shooting the ball at the correct:

  • The ball's angle. Shoot the ball so it goes up faster than it goes over? Or more over than up? Which?
    ...and...
  • The ball's speed. Should you give the ball a lot of speed as you shoot it? A little speed? Which?

Tough call! If you can practice your touch and feeling for these things, you can make a lot of jumpshots! This page allows you to "play hoops" some. See if you can make your jumpshots!

How far do you want to stand from the basket?

(You can be between 0.5 meters (1.6 feet) and 24 meters (78 feet) from the basket)

How tall do you want to be? (4 - 8 feet)

(You can be between 0.5 meters (1.6 feet) and 3 meters (10 feet) from the basket)

How fast do you want to shoot the ball?

(4.4 meters per second (10 miles per hour) is a good starting speed).

At what angle do you want to shoot the ball?
Degrees
(Angles can be between 0 and 90 degrees.)

Turn "the Physics" Animation detail