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Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball

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The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the bank shot and ultimately determine the optimal target points on the backboard for the bank shot in men’s basketball. The study used over one million three-dimensional simulations of basketball trajectories. Four launch variables were studied: launch height, launch speed, launch angle, and aim angle. The shooter’s statistical characteristics were prescribed to yield a 70 percent free throw when launching the ball seven feet above the ground with 3 Hz of back spin. We found that the shooter can select a bank shot over a direct shot with as much as a 20 percent advantage. The distribution over the court of preferences of the bank shot over the direct shot was determined. It was also shown that there is an aim line on the backboard independent of the shooter’s location on the court. We also found that at 3.326 inches behind the backboard, there exists a vertical axis that aids in finding the optimal target point on the backboard. The optimal target point is the crossing of the vertical axis and the aim line that is in the shooter’s line of sight.
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Volume 7, Issue 1 2011 Article 3
Journal of Quantitative Analysis in
Sports
Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s
Basketball
Larry M. Silverberg, North Carolina State University
Chau M. Tran, North Carolina State University
Taylor M. Adams, North Carolina State University
Recommended Citation:
Silverberg, Larry M.; Tran, Chau M.; and Adams, Taylor M. (2011) "Optimal Targets for the
Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball," Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports: Vol. 7 : Iss. 1,
Article 3.
Available at: http://www.bepress.com/jqas/vol7/iss1/3
DOI: 10.2202/1559-0410.1299
©2011 American Statistical Association. All rights reserved.
Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s
Basketball
Larry M. Silverberg, Chau M. Tran, and Taylor M. Adams
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the bank shot and ultimately
determine the optimal target points on the backboard for the bank shot in men’s basketball. The
study used over one million three-dimensional simulations of basketball trajectories. Four launch
variables were studied: launch height, launch speed, launch angle, and aim angle. The shooter’s
statistical characteristics were prescribed to yield a 70 percent free throw when launching the ball
seven feet above the ground with 3 Hz of back spin. We found that the shooter can select a bank
shot over a direct shot with as much as a 20 percent advantage. The distribution over the court of
preferences of the bank shot over the direct shot was determined. It was also shown that there is an
aim line on the backboard independent of the shooter’s location on the court. We also found that at
3.326 inches behind the backboard, there exists a vertical axis that aids in finding the optimal
target point on the backboard. The optimal target point is the crossing of the vertical axis and the
aim line that is in the shooter’s line of sight.
KEYWORDS: basketball, bank shot, optimal, backboard
Introduction
For the spectator, the bank shot is distinctive and even a bit mystical. It demands
shooting a basketball farther than a direct shot and aiming the ball to the side.
Yet, most lay ups are bank shots and there are locations on the court where the
probability of a successful bank shot is considerably higher than the probability of
a successful direct shot.
Shooters perfect their bank shot technique by performing shooting drills.
Initially, however, the shooter can benefit from understanding the best launch
conditions. At what aim angle should the ball be launched? Where should the
ball make contact with the backboard? How does the contact point on the
backboard change with launch distance, launch angle, and launch height? These
are difficult questions to answer and, if left unanswered, prevent the shooter from
perfecting a most effective bank shot.
The optimal launch conditions for the bank shot are not obvious because
of the large number of factors. In practice, a prohibitively large number of bank
shots must be studied to gain a complete understanding of the optimal launch
conditions. An alternate approach is to perform computer simulations, where
millions of shots can be investigated in a relatively short amount of time.
Previous simulation studies of the basketball shot considered trajectories
launched from general locations on the court, as well as from the free throw line,
while apparently no detailed studies of the bank shot have been conducted. The
main contributors are Shibakuwa (1975), Brancazio (1981), Tan and Miller
(1981), Hamilton and Reinschmidt (1997), Huston and Grau (2003), and Tran and
Silverberg (2008). This paper studies the bank shot in detail and develops targets
on the backboard for the perfection of the bank shot technique.
Methods
Silverberg, Tran, and Adcock (2003) developed a general-purpose numerical
procedure for simulating basketball trajectories. Their model extended earlier
work as follows:
(1) The ball is assumed to be a thin lightly-damped elastic body that undergoes
rolling and/or sliding contact with the backboard and the rim.
(2) The ball undergoes any combination of consecutive bounces off the backboard
and the rim.
(3) The statistical characteristics of the skill level of the shooter are incorporated
in the procedure, making it possible to predict the probability of a successful
shot.
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Silverberg et al.: Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball
Published by Berkeley Electronic Press, 2011
Their model neglects three secondary effects. In order of decreasing
importance, the neglected effects are: vibration of the backboard and ring;
aerodynamic drag and Magnus force on the ball; and the bridge surface between
the backboard and ring. Their model has been tested extensively, producing
reliable results with errors in basketball simulations of less than 1%, and is used
throughout this paper. The dimensions of the court, backboard, and ring that
influence the bank shot are the same for international competition (International
Basketball Federation, 2006), US collegiate competition (National Collegiate
Athletic Association, 2001), and US professional competition (National
Basketball Association, 2006). However, the conclusions reached in the present
study apply only to men’s basketball because in woman’s basketball the ball is
smaller and lighter (Fig. 1).
Figure 1. Dimensions
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In Figure 2, the ball is launched from a particular location that can be
expressed in terms of the rectangular coordinates (x y z) or equivalently in terms
of the cylindrical coordinates (r z) in which r denotes radial distance and
denotes polar angle. The coordinates are located at the center of the ball. The ball
is launched with a launch speed v, a launch angle and an aim angle . Notice
that is the angle between the plane of the trajectory and a horizontal line parallel
to the x axis. When =  the player is shooting a direct shot The shooter also
imparts to the ball a back spin about an axis that is perpendicular to the vertical
plane of the ball’s approach to the basket. Out-of-plane components of back spin
can be imparted too, but these effects are neglected because of their typically
small magnitude.
Figure 2. Launch conditions
The shooter’s ultimate success depends on two factors. The first is his
understanding of the desired shot. Of course, the desired shot is not precisely the
optimal one. The second factor is the shooter’s consistency. The actual shot will
deviate from the desired shot because of the inevitable variability in shooting
movements. The selection of the desired shot and the standard deviations in the
launch conditions completely determine the chances of a shot being successful.
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Silverberg et al.: Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball
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Figure 3. Grid of 100 court locations
radial distance (ft): 1.969 3.281 4.593 5.905 7.218
8.530 9.842 11.15 12.47 13.75
polar angle (o): 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
In this study, bank shots are launched from the 100 court locations shown
in Fig. 3. From each location, a set of direct shots and a set of bank shots are
launched. The vertical planes of the trajectories are centered, that is, the vertical
planes pass through the center point of the ring. The aim angles of the centered
bank shots are determined from the formula shown in Fig. 4 (See Appendix). The
ball is launched 6 ft, 7 ft, and 8 ft above the ground. It was shown in the case of
the foul shot that imparting about 3 Hz (revolutions per second) of back spin is
optimal, so we let = 3 Hz here, too (Tran and Silverberg, 2008).
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Figure 4. The aim angle of the bank shot
Figure 5 shows the launch speed v versus the launch angle for successful
bank shots from a set of 40,000 bank shots launched at r = 9.842 ft, = 60º and
7 ft above the ground. As shown, the region of successful shots has the shape of a
horseshoe. To gain a greater appreciation of the different types of bank shots
encountered, shots 1 through 11 are depicted around the figure. The trajectories
shown are the center-lines of the basketball. Shots 6, 5, 4, 1, 7, 8, and 9 are along
the outer (left) edge of the horseshoe, shots 10, 3 and 11 are along the inner (right)
edge, and shot 2 is in the middle of the horseshoe.
The shots along the outer edge have the smallest launch velocities for a
given launch angle and they first bank and then bounce off of the back of the ring.
The shots along the inner edge have the largest launch velocities for a given
launch angle and they bank and then bounce off of the front of the ring. Shot 2,
located in the middle of the v- region, is optimal (Tran and Silverberg, 2008). It
strikes the backboard and then swishes through the ring.
3
tanδtanβ
5γ
=


(a-R) tan
L
γ
x
v
3
5
y
v
a-R
backboard
R
Lcos+a-
R
tan
f
sinθ
tanβ3
cosθ15γ
a R
L
= 
 
+ +
 
 
5
Silverberg et al.: Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball
Published by Berkeley Electronic Press, 2011
Figure 5. Launch speed versus launch angle for successful shots
Figure 6 shows the launch speed v versus the aim angle for successful
shots launched from another set of 40,000 bank shots launched again at
r = 9.842 ft, = 60º and 7 ft above the ground. The launch angle for all of these
shots is = 54º, which is the optimal launch angle located in the center of the v-
curve in Fig. 5. Note that the lines of constant probability in Figs. 5 and 6 (not
shown) are ellipses when v, , and are statistically independent and normally
distributed and when the other launch variables are regarded as deterministic.
The center of the largest probability ellipse fully contained in a region was taken
as the desired shot. The desired shot is the optimal shot when the probability of
that ellipse is sufficiently low (the probability of that ellipse is the calculation
error). The desired shots considered throughout the paper were all optimal.
(11)
(10)
(3)
(4)
(5) (6)
(7)
(8) (9)
(1) (2)
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Figure 6. Launch speed versus aim angle for successful shots
Shot 1 has the lowest launch speed, shot 5 has the lowest aim angle, shot 3
has the highest aim angle, and shot 2, located in the middle of the v- region, is
optimal. Shots 1 and 4, which are launched at relatively low speeds, bounce low
off of the backboard. Shots 3, 5, 6, and 7, which are launched at relatively high
speeds, bounce high off of the backboard. Shot 2, the optimal shot that is
launched at a moderate speed, strikes the middle of the backboard. Also, the
optimal shot is centered; its aim angle produces a trajectory whose vertical plane
passes through the center point of the ring.
In the bank shot, the launch variable that the shooter finds particularly
difficult to select is the aim angle. To assist with aiming, the shooter benefits
from selecting a target point on the backboard toward which to aim. However,
when the polar angle is large the contact point C of the ball on the backboard is
(3)
(4)
(5)
(6)
(7)
(1) (2)
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Silverberg et al.: Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball
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not aligned with the plane of the trajectory, making it difficult for the shooter to
aim toward (See Figure 7). To remedy this misalignment problem a shooter can
more naturally aim toward point A produced by extending the trajectory to the
backboard in the horizontal plane of the contact point. Point A is called the aim
point. Later in the paper, collections of aim points on the backboard, called aim
lines, will be studied.
Figure 7. The contact point C and the aim point A
Results
The nominal parameters are the 100 court locations, centered aim angles, optimal
launch angles, the launch height of 7 ft above the ground, and the back spin of
3 Hz. The results presented in this section use the nominal parameters and
deviations from the nominal parameters.
The Court
Figures 5 and 6 showed the v- curve and the v- curve for shots launched from a
single location on the court. The optimal (v  was located in the middles of
the regions shown in these figures. We shall now assume that the optimal shot is
the shooter’s desired shot and that the shooter’s consistency, quantified in terms
of a standard deviation in launch speed (Tran and Silverberg, 2008), is a 70%
direct shot from the free throw line, which is about the average free throw
percentage in US collegiate competition as well as in the NBA. The same
standard deviation will be assumed for shots launched anywhere on the court,
backboard
C
A
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DOI: 10.2202/1559-0410.1299
although shooters actually tend to shoot more accurately from closer in. The 70%
shooting percentage is representative but arbitrary in that the same trends shown
below would be obtained for shooting percentages in the range of 65% to 85%
with the values scaled up or down. With these assumptions, the probabilities of
both the optimal bank shots and the optimal direct shots were calculated over the
indicated 100 court locations. The results are symmetric; differences between the
left and right sides of the court are being neglected. Note that the calculated
percentages tend to under-estimate the shooter’s performance since decreases in
the shooter’s standard deviations with distance to the ring are being neglected.
Figure 8a shows the probability of success of the bank shots. One
observes probabilities that decrease with distance, a peak occurs in the
neighborhood of polar angles of 75º where the backboard is fully utilized and a
second increase in the neighborhood of 0º where the bank shot and the direct shot
are aligned. As shown, the probability reaches over 90% close to the ring and
drops to 60% at 12 ft distances with angles in the neighborhood of 45º. Next,
referring to Fig. 8b showing the probability of success of the direct shots, one
observes probabilities that decrease with distance, and a peak occurs, again, in the
neighborhood of 0º. As shown, the probability of success at the free throw line is
70% (Recall, that is how the standard deviation in launch speed was set.), and
increases to more than 90% as the shooter moves closer to the ring. Finally, Fig.
8c shows the difference between the probability of success of the bank shots and
that of the direct shots. Therefore, a positive percentage indicates a level of
preference of the bank shot over the direct shot and a negative percentage
indicates the opposite. One observes that the bank shot is preferred in the red and
pink regions and the direct shot is preferred in the other regions. Notice that bank
shot preferences are on the order of 20% for polar angles of about 75º and in mid-
range distances for polar angles of 0º. The bank shot is not preferred at very short
distances to the ring where ball trajectories that bounce off of the backboard
require very large launch angles, nor preferred close to the foul line, nor at very
steep polar angles approaching 90º where the backboard is no longer effective.
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Silverberg et al.: Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball
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Figure 8: (a) bank shots, (b) direct shots, and (c) preferred shots
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Note that these results do not take into account particular court conditions.
They mimic the conditions of a free throw shot during which play has been
stopped. The comparison between the bank shot and the direct shot discounts
such factors as the height and quickness of a defender, both of which influence
the player’s shot selection and hence change the presumed statistics.
Finally, keep in mind that the results presented above focus on
consistency, which is the second factor mentioned in the beginning of the paper
that determines whether or not a shot is successful. The first factor, the selection
of the desired shot, was treated by assuming that the shooter selects the optimal
shot as the desired shot. This is unattainable when the shooter does not have
knowledge of the optimal shot so, toward finding the optimal shot, the next sub-
section looks for the optimal targets on the backboard.
The Backboard
The locus of aim points on the backboard forms an aim line. The aim line is
associated with optimal shots launched from a given radial distance and a given
launch height from polar angles between 0º and 90º. Figure 9 shows aim points
(black) and corresponding contact points (green) for radial distances of 5.905 ft,
9.842 ft, and 13.75 ft. Note that the horizontal distance between a point on an aim
line and a point on a contact line increases with polar angle. At large polar
angles, the large distance corresponds to a misalignment of the ball’s trajectory,
illustrating the necessity for the aim line.
Also, note that the rectangle on the backboard provides some guidance as
to where the ball should make contact with the backboard. For an aim angle of
55º it was found that the contact point is close to the upper corner of the rectangle.
However, this does not imply that the shooter should aim toward the upper corner
of the rectangle because of the large misalignment between aim point and contact
point.
Furthermore Fig. 9 shows that the three aim lines corresponding to the
three radial distances are very close to each other. The vertical distances between
them (associated with one aim angle) is about ±2 inches. Although not shown, a
range of launch heights from 6 ft to 8 ft were also considered. Again, it was
found that these variations have little effect on the positions of the aim lines.
Indeed, the aim lines are approximately independent of the shooter’s location and
launch height. Therefore, there is practically a unique (averaged) aim line, as
shown in Fig. 10.
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Silverberg et al.: Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball
Published by Berkeley Electronic Press, 2011
Figure 9: Aim points (black) and contact points (green)
r = 13.75 ft (square), r = 9.842 ft (circle), and r = 5.905 ft (diamond)
Figure 10: Aim line
19.25 in
1.925 in
12.86 in
36.00 in
6.00 in
36.00 in
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DOI: 10.2202/1559-0410.1299
As shown, the aim line is v-shaped with a flat bottom. At polar angles of
0º to 30º the shooter aims toward points on the flat bottom portion of the aim line.
At polar angles of 40º to 80º the shooter aims toward points on the v-shaped
portion of the aim line. This is an important result that helps the shooter
recognize where to target the ball. However, it stills remains to know at what
specific aim point on the aim line to direct the bank shot.
Training
Figure 10 demonstrated that there exists a single aim line on the backboard,
although no guidance was offered above as to the target point on that line. It turns
out, however, that the focal distance f in Fig. 4 is independent of the side angle ,
from which we conclude that the vertical planes of the optimal bank shot
trajectories all intersect at a single vertical axis f = 3.327 inches directly behind
the center of the backboard. These results suggest an approach toward training
players how to find the target point toward which to aim. The vertical axis could
be a physical pole behind the backboard and the aim line could be drawn on the
backboard, as shown in Fig. 11. The shooter could then look at the pole from any
court location and it will cross the aim line along his line of sight at the optimal
target point. Thus the shooter just aims toward the crossing.
Figure 11: Finding the targets using the pole and aim line
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Silverberg et al.: Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball
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Conclusions
In this paper, bank shots launched from 100 court locations were studied. About
40,000 bank shots and another 40,000 direct shots were launched from each
location. These shots were launched from 7 ft above the ground, with 3 Hz of
back spin, and assumed a standard deviation in launch speed that corresponds to a
70% direct shot from the free throw line. Shots were also launched at other
launch heights to study the effect of launch height. In all, more than one million
shots were launched. Our results permit us to draw the following conclusions
about the bank shot in men’s basketball:
(1) A typical 70% free throw shooter can select a bank shot over a direct shot and
gain as much as a 20% advantage. This 20% advantage is significant in that a
70% shooter misses three times more than a 90% shooter. The court
preferences of the bank shot over the direct shot were given.
(2) The corner of the rectangle on the backboard corresponds to the optimal
contact point for an aim angle of 55º. The contact point is difficult to utilize
since it is not aligned with the direction of aim and applies to just one aim
angle.
(3) There exists a unique aim line on a backboard. The aim line is independent of
the shooter’s location on the court.
(4) The optimal target point can be pinpointed during a training session that
employs the pole and aim line. It is the crossing of the pole and the aim line
in the shooter’s line of sight.
The results presented in this paper can form the basis for future studies aimed at
establishing more effective ways of training players how to shoot the bank shot.
Appendix
The following shows that
which appeared in Fig. 4. Figure 12 shows the free body diagram of the ball
when it makes contact with the backboard. First refer to Fig. 12.
sinθ
tanβ3
cosθ15γ
a R
L
= 
 
+ +
 
 
(1)
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DOI: 10.2202/1559-0410.1299
Figure 12: Free body diagram
The important equations are:
Equation (2a) follows from conservation of linear momentum in the x direction
and assumes a linear visco-elastic collision in which vx and vx denote the x
components of velocity just before and after contact, and is the coefficient of
restitution (Silverberg and Thrower, 2001). Equation (2b) follows from linear
impulse-momentum in the y direction in which m denotes ball mass, Fy denotes
the y component of force acting on the ball by the backboard, R is ball radius, and
vy and vydenote the y components of velocity just before and after contact.
Equation (2c) follows from angular impulse-momentum about the z axis in which
22
3
ImR= denotes the mass moment of inertia of a thin, spherical shell of radius
R and zdenotes the angular velocity of the ball about the z axis just after
contact. Equation (2d) is a vector equation that expresses the kinematic
constraints between the velocity vector of the contact point just after the collision
backboard
C
x
y
Fy
Fx
'
x x
v
γv
=
(2a)
'
y y y
mv mv F dt
− =
(2b)
ω'
z y
I R F dt
=
(2c)
/
' ' ' , that is
(0 0 0) ( ) ' (
ω ω ω ) ' ( 0 0)
C CG C CG
x y z x y z
v v v R
0 v v ωr
= = + ×
= + × −
(2d)
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Silverberg et al.: Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball
Published by Berkeley Electronic Press, 2011
vC, which is zero, and the velocity vector of the center of the ball vCG. By
expanding Eq. (2d), we get
'ω''ω'
yz z y
vR v R==-
(3a,b)
Substituting Eq. (2b) into Eq. (2c), and substituting the result into Eq. (3a), yields
3
'5
y
y
vv=
(4)
Next, referring to Fig. 4, we know that
tan β
y
x
v
v
= and 3
tan δtan β
5γ
= (5)
Also, notice that
Substituting Eq. (5) into Eq. (6), yields Eq. (1).
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sin
θ= ( cos θ) tan β( ) tan δ
L L a R a R
+ − +
(6)
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Silverberg et al.: Optimal Targets for the Bank Shot in Men’s Basketball
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A three dimensional dynamic model is used to calculate basketball motions for field shots with release conditions: release position, release velocity, backspin angular velocity, release angle, and lateral deviation angle. The model includes basketball stiffness and damping and calculates the slipping and non-slipping, and spinning and non spinning motions at the ball-contact point. The simulations, together with probabilistic selection of release conditions, analyze ball trajectories of field shots and possible rebounding positions for players. The results instruct the best rebounding position for placement of rebounders. We also investigate the effectiveness of denying the optimal shot paths for attempted blocked shots.
... A more recent strain of NBA analytics considers the physical court space. Such data has been contextualized as heat maps [17,11,16], player movement paths [16], 3D histograms [16], and backboard schematics [28,27]. Their concrete spatial setting lends greater credence to their effectiveness. ...
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In this work we present an augmentation of the plus-minus statistic as well as a new visual platform for exploring our derived values. Specifically, we apply the concept of measuring impact via differentials to all box score statistics and expand the focus of analysis from a player to a team. That is, on a per-game basis for a stat, we are concerned only with how many more or less than an opponent a team accumulates of that stat. We consider traditional plus-minus numbers at the team level as a measure of the quality of a win/loss for a team; this creates several interesting opportunities for evaluating the impacts of player accomplishments numerically at the team level. We will detail PluMP, the plus-minus plot, and provide illuminating examples found in 2012-2013 NBA box score data. Further, we will provide a representative example of more general analysis that follows directly from our paradigm.
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A general three-dimensional dynamic computational model is used to estimate likely basketball rebounding regions for short-, medium-, and long-range direct and bank shots. The deterministic part of the quasi-rigid body model includes radial basketball stiffness and damping, and contains six distinct sub-models that completely encompass all reasonably possible qualitative basketball behaviors: gravitational flight with air drag, and ball-contact sub-models for ball-rim, ball-bridge, ball-board, ball-bridge-board, and ball-rim-board contact. Each contact sub-model allows slipping and non-slipping, and spinning and non-spinning motions at the ball-contact point(s). The deterministic model is driven with random initial conditions. Using independent Gaussian probability distributions for release velocity, release angle, and lateral deviation angle, simulations calculate ball trajectories of shots on a grid of three distances and seven different floor angles around the hoop on the right side of the court. The main results are the induced probability distributions over the court surface of rebounding ball locations at the height of the rim. Angled direct and bank shots have different most-likely rebounding positions, and usually have two high-probability positions, one on the same side as, and the other on the side opposite from, the shooter. The general high-probability rebound position on the shooter side is close to the hoop, even in long-range shots. On the opposite side, the most likely rebound distance from the hoop is roughly proportional to shot distance. Assumed standard deviations of release conditions affect rebound positions. A larger deviation of release velocity increases the likely rebound distance from the hoop on the shooter side. A larger deviation of lateral deviation angle moves the most likely rebound position out of the optimal shot path plane on the shooter side. Shots with larger deviation in release angle have a tendency to rebound to the shooter side.
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This paper numerically analyzes the dynamics of the basketball shot. The focus of the paper is on the development of a general, formulation for the dynamics of the shot beginning when the ball leaves the shooter's hand and ending when the shot is made or missed. The numerical analysis developed in this paper can be used to conduct a parametric study of the dynamics of the basketball shot, which in turn, can be used to improve individual shooting and team strategy. The individual skill level of the shooter enters the formulation through the statistical accuracy of the release. The paper then shows how to determine the shooter's probability of making a given shot.
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The purpose of this study was to determine the optimum release conditions for the free throw in men's basketball. The study used hundreds of thousands of three-dimensional simulations of basketball trajectories. Five release variables were studied: release height, release speed, launch angle, side angle, and back spin. The free throw shooter was assumed to shoot at 70% and to release the ball 2.134 m (7 ft) above the ground. We found that the shooter should place up to 3 Hz of back spin on the ball, should aim the ball towards the back of the ring, and should launch the ball at 52 degrees to the horizontal. We also found that it is desirable to release the ball as high above the ground as possible, as long as this does not adversely affect the player's launch consistency.
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The kinematics of the two basic styles of free throw in basketball are discussed. It is shown that from a purely kinematic and trajectory point of view, the overhand push shot is preferable to the underhand loop shot. The advantages of the underhand shot lie in the actual execution of the shot.
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Does a knowledge of physics help to improve one's basketball skills? Several applications of physical principles to the game of basketball are examined. The kinematics of a basketball shot is studied, and criteria are established for determining the best shooting angle at any given distance from the basket. It is found that there is an optimum shooting angle which requires the smallest launching force and provides the greatest margin for error. Some simple classroom illustrations of Newtonian mechanics based on basketball are also suggested.
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A rationale and geometric parameters for optimal basketball shooting are provided. The premise is that shots requiring the least energy are the easiest to control and thus have the greatest probability of success. The kinematics of the ball movement are modelled and simulated for the free throw, for the direct shot, and for the bank shot off the backboard (the ‘layup’). For the layup, the analysis includes the effects of friction, ball inertia, ball spin and impact restitution. The results provide a means for shot planning and for coaching to improve shooting technique. The advantage of the layup for close-in shooting is demonstrated. Results of numerical parameter studies are also presented, demonstrating the ranges of allowable shooting error for the various shots, and thus also identifying the shots with highest probability of success.
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Using a theoretical approach, we studied the basketball free throw as a function of angle, speed and spin at release. The ball was constrained to the sagittal plane bisecting the hoop and normal to the backboard, and was permitted to bounce and change spin on both backboard and hoop. Combinations of angle, speed and spin resulting in a successful shot were calculated analytically. Standard deviations for a shooter's angle and speed were used to predict the optimal trajectory for a specific position of release. An optimal trajectory was predicted which had an initial angle and speed of approximately 60 degrees and 7.3 m s(-1) respectively over the domain of spins (-2 to +2 m s(-1) surface speed; -16 to +16 rad s[1]). The effect of air resistance and the sagittal plane constraint on the predicted optimal trajectory were discussed and quantified. The optimal trajectory depended on both the anthropometric characteristics and accuracy of the shooter, but generally a high backspin with an angle and speed combination which sent the ball closer to the far rim of the basket than the near rim was advantageous. We provide recommendations for shooters as a function of the height of ball release.
Official basketball rules. www.fiba.com. National Basketball Association 2005-2006 Official rule book. www.nba.com NCAA men's and women's basketball rules and interpretations
International Basketball Federation (2006). Official basketball rules. www.fiba.com. National Basketball Association (2006). 2005-2006 Official rule book. www.nba.com. National Collegiate Athletic Association (2001). NCAA men's and women's basketball rules and interpretations. www.ncaa.org.
Velocity conditions of basketball shooting
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Shibukawa, K. (1975). Velocity conditions of basketball shooting. Bulletin of the Institute of Sport Science, 13, 59-64.
Mark's Mechanics Problem-Solving Companion
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Silverberg, L. M. and Thrower, J. P. (2001). Mark's Mechanics Problem-Solving Companion, McGraw-Hill Book Company.