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Basketball by Jai and Jonathan

We're into hoops big time, whether it's one-on-one, three-on-three, in the gym or on the asphalt. We were working on our jump shots, and noticed that kids younger than us shoot from their chin, but kids older than us do overhead shots. We wondered what the difference was between the two shots. Our DFTV question: At the start of a jump shot, how does your hand position affect your overall shooting?

What did we do?
We set up a video camera and grabbed some of our friends to join us taking jumpers. Everybody took ten shots using three different shooting hand positions: hand starting at chest, starting at chin, and starting overhead. We counted the shots made and used the video camera to watch the arc of the ball for each shot.

What did we find out?
We learned that you shoot the ball differently depending on where you start the ball. Starting the ball by your chest, most people shoot with the arc of the ball coming near the basket. You can make a basket that way, but it's really tough. The higher you start the ball, like up by your chin or overhead, the higher the arc of the shot, and the farther from the basket it peaks. That means the ball goes through the hoop more steeply, which we think improves your chances. Of course, you still need to practice a lot!

What can you do?
  • Is there a part of the court from which your shooting is more accurate, compared to other parts of the court? Take a bunch of shots from different places, and keep track of your shooting percentage.
  • How does backspin play a part in a shot? Take a bunch of shots with and without backspin. How does the rotation affect the way the ball bounces? How does backspin affect your accuracy?
  • What's the scientific difference between a "soft" shot, and a "brick?" Is it the speed of the ball, the spin, or the arc? Design an investigation to figure out the difference!
  • Use this basketball investigation as a science fair project idea for your elementary or middle school science fair! Then tell us about it!
more resources
More on projectile motion.

Go to the DFTV Boards, and tell us about your science investigation.
whiz quiz
Which of the following sports was never part of the Olympic games?

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