How to shoot longer shots in basketball

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In summary: Do you think that the horizontal motion of my hand affects the power of the shot?Gathering the ball with your off hand will increase the power of your shot.
  • #1
ProjectFringe
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I enjoy playing basketball and I’m trying to figure out how to increase my range, so that I can shoot further. There are many contributing factors, but I’m curious how the movement of the ball and my arms contribute to how much power I can get behind the shot.

This is difficult to explain in words, but basically when most people shoot a basketball, they gather the ball from a dribble, pulling it up vertically, and then gradually push the ball outwards towards the hoop as it approaches their head region. The path the ball and the players hands travel look something like a candy cane, with the player releasing the ball at the peak of the curved region.

The ball is basically traveling vertically, low to high, and then horizontally, back to front. My question is how the vertical movement affects the horizontal movement of the ball. Does the vertical momentum contribute positively, negatively, or neutrally to the horizontal movement (the power) of the ball moving forward?

The reason I ask is because I feel that I have more power when someone passes me the ball and I catch it near my head and then just shoot, basically just using my elbow to create a horizontal movement without the need to move the ball up vertically. There may be other factors at play here, but I thought maybe that the vertical momentum of the ball is decreasing the power, or forward horizontal momentum, because the ball is changing directions.

I realize that it is not changing directions at a right angle, but somewhat gradually. And I do not have a background in physics. However, I thought maybe that an object in motion would want to continue in the same direction, and therefore trying to change that direction would require more effort and decrease the power, in comparison with trying to move an object in one direction from a stationary position. What do the laws of physics have to say about this?

Thanks in advance!
 
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  • #2
There are many ways to shoot a basketball. A "jump" shot differs considerably from a "set" shot or a "hook" shot. The degree to which the ongoing motion of the ball is circular will determine how much ball speed can carry through.
 
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  • #3
hutchphd said:
There are many ways to shoot a basketball. A "jump" shot differs considerably from a "set" shot or a "hook" shot. The degree to which the ongoing motion of the ball is circular will determine how much ball speed can carry through.
By circular motion are you referring to the spin of the ball or the path of the ball through the air?
 
  • #4
The path of the ball as one is shooting.
 
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  • #5
Best to stick with the "BLESH" method for shooting all of your shots (except for hook shots and layups, obviously). I first learned the technique from coach Frank Allocco at the Excel Basketball Camps (I was coaching my son in CYO Basketball at the time).

https://usfdons.com/sports/mens-basketball/roster/coaches/frank-allocco/312

Here is a short video from their Facebook page:

You can do a Google search on BLESH basketball for more web pages with shooting tips.
 
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  • #6
hutchphd said:
The path of the ball as one is shooting.
Then considering a set shot, removing all other factors like jumping etc., and imagining a candy cane shaped path from the ground up, and releasing the ball at the peak or crest, ...is it possible that the vertical portion of the path is adversely affecting the forward momentum of the ball?
 
  • #7
ProjectFringe said:
What do the laws of physics have to say about this?
The appropriate law of physics says ##\vec {F}_{\text{net}}=m\vec a.## The details are left as an exercise to basketball coaches.

I am being semi-facetious here. My point is that a competent coach who knows what works in basketball can answer your questions more to the point than a competent physicist who knows how the laws of physics work in idealized situations.
 
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  • #8
berkeman said:
Best to stick with the "BLESH" method for shooting all of your shots (except for hook shots and layups, obviously). I first learned the technique from coach Frank Allocco at the Excel Basketball Camps (I was coaching my son in CYO Basketball at the time).

You can do a Google search on BLESH basketball for more web pages with shooting tips.
Thanks, I saw the info!

I've been playing basketball for many years and I shoot fine, and like most people do. But what I am wondering about is whether I should be dribbling and then gathering with my off hand or my shooting hand. I always gather with my shooting hand, and from what I've seen most people in the NBA do the same.

However, recently I noticed that if I gather the ball with my off hand, and just use my shooting hand to create a horizontal motion when shooting, I have a lot more power and accuracy. It is difficult to describe, but it is somewhat similar to how someone serves a volleyball in the sense that I am using my off hand to raise and set the ball up and my shooting hand to complete the horizontal follow through.

If I gather the ball with my shooting hand I feel like a lot of momentum is being lost because I have to twist my arm to get my hand behind/underneath the ball, and the ball/my arm are moving up and then out, essentially in two different directions. By only using my shooting hand for shooting, I can just make one simple horizontal movement with my shooting arm/hand, and it feels like I have a lot more power. But I never see anyone do this, so I was wondering if the increase in power and accuracy was just my imagination or if physics could explain it.

Additionally, my feet are already in the correct position, with my shooting side foot forward a little because if I am dribbling with my off hand right before I gather the ball I usually have the weak/off side foot/hand back because I am protecting the ball as I dribble. Also because I am making contact with the ball with my shooting hand at the last moment, I am much more easily able to control how much power and how I contact the ball. This helps improve my accuracy and helps sustain it too because I also save energy in my shooting arm/hand by not having to pick up the ball every time I shoot.

So, I was curious why most people don't do this, or maybe they do and I am not understanding correctly. Or maybe there is some problem I am missing. Or maybe they just don't want to train their off hand, which is usually their weaker hand, to gather the ball. Anyway, I was wondering if I should continue to work on this new way of shooting or just go back to shooting normally.
 
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  • #9
ProjectFringe said:
Or maybe they just don't want to train their off hand, which is usually their weaker hand, to gather the ball. Anyway, I was wondering if I should continue to work on this new way of shooting or just go back to shooting normally.
I think that's probably the key point. They use their dominant hand for dribbling most of the time, so that's why it is more rare for them to finish the dribble with their non-dominant hand. I'll have to try it the next time I shoot hoops (in a couple of days). But hey, if it works better for you just keep doing it. It's easy enough to test it by keeping score for yourself as you shoot shots both ways.
 
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  • #10
ProjectFringe said:
What do the laws of physics have to say about this?
Interesting and informative, but your questions and comments are about physiology, and perhaps psychology, but not physics.

The laws of physics say F=ma, force equals mass times acceleration. That's not much help is it?
 
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  • #11
anorlunda said:
Interesting and informative, but your questions and comments are about physiology, and perhaps psychology, but not physics.

The laws of physics say F=ma, force equals mass times acceleration. That's not much help is it?
I now realize that my question for basketball may be too complicated to answer due to the complexity of many factors. However, just so I walk away learning a little more about physics, here is a really simplified version of what I am wondering.

Does it takes more force to move X amount of mass in a different direction if it is already accelerating (moving) in a perpendicular direction. In other words, it will take X amount of force to push a ball that is standing still. Considering all other factors are the same. Does it take more force to move that same ball, the same distance, when it is traveling in a straight line which is 90 degrees (perpendicular) to the direction you want to move the ball?

So what I'm confused about is if the current motion or acceleration of the ball will increase or decrease the amount of forced required to move the ball in a perpendicular direction. I think that it is easier (requires less force) to move a ball which is already moving. However, is it still easier if the ball is moving in a different direction?o_O
 
  • #12
berkeman said:
I'll have to try it the next time I shoot hoops (in a couple of days). But hey, if it works better for you just keep doing it. It's easy enough to test it by keeping score for yourself as you shoot shots both ways.

*BASKETBALL UPDATE*

So, I just came back from shooting around and playing a few games and, from the best I can tell, I think the power behind the shot may be about the same regardless of the hand motion, shooting hand coming up with the ball or shooting hand just meeting the ball at the peak.

Since I have been practicing gathering the ball with my off hand, now when I dribble and pick up the ball with my shooting hand, I instinctually shift the weight of the ball to my off hand and place my shooting hand on top of the ball, using it as a guide and then as the ball comes up around my head, my shooting hand is naturally under/behind the ball.

So, now that the extra factor of picking up/supporting the weight of ball with my shooting hand or off hand is eliminated, I could more easily compare the results of the differences in ranges of motion, either using my shooting hand as a guide as I pick up the ball (moving vertically and then horizontally) or just using my shooting hand to move horizontally and meet the ball as it reaches its peak. In this case, both feel like the power are about the same.

I think what I thought was more power was really a difference in the arc of the ball. In the first case, when I move the ball with both hands traveling up and out, the ball has a much higher arc, due to the upward momentum of my shooting hand, which translates to a shorter distance.

However, when I shoot the second way, with my shooting hand just moving horizontally, the arc is much less, and therefore, goes farther. I still have plenty of arc, so if I need distance, I think the second way is best. With the first way, you could move the ball out sooner and shoot more in front of your body, but I think it will be much easier to block your shot. Either way seems fine for mid-range shots.

Regardless of the motion though, I think I will continue to use my off hand for primarily supporting the ball when gathering, because it really frees up my shooting hand to shoot in a variety of ways, easily adjust the power in my wrist, and it feels more natural to me. Anyway, best of luck with your shooting!:smile:
 
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  • #13
ProjectFringe said:
Does it takes more force to move X amount of mass in a different direction if it is already accelerating (moving) in a perpendicular direction. In other words, it will take X amount of force to push a ball that is standing still. Considering all other factors are the same. Does it take more force to move that same ball, the same distance, when it is traveling in a straight line which is 90 degrees (perpendicular) to the direction you want to move the ball?
If we neglect air drag, then all that is left is Newton's second law, F=ma. It says that net force F relates to mass and acceleration. Acceleration, not speed, not velocity, not motion, but acceleration. Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity.

So, given that, can you now answer your own questions?

Take the simplest case. The ball is initially moving to the right, and we apply a net force toward the left. What will happen to the velocity of the ball, using F=ma?
 
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  • #14
anorlunda said:
If we neglect air drag, then all that is left is Newton's second law, F=ma.
You left out ## \tau = I \alpha ## :wink:

It's important to remember that part of the S=Snap in BLESH shooting imparts spin on the ball. This is a natural part of the shooting motion, and the backspin helps the ball to make it through the rim for some "rattling" shots. So not all of the force of the shot goes into the projectile motion part... :smile:
 
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  • #15
anorlunda said:
If we neglect air drag, then all that is left is Newton's second law, F=ma. It says that net force F relates to mass and acceleration. Acceleration, not speed, not velocity, not motion, but acceleration. Acceleration is the rate of change of velocity.

So, given that, can you now answer your own questions?

Take the simplest case. The ball is initially moving to the right, and we apply a net force toward the left. What will happen to the velocity of the ball, using F=ma?
Okay, so there is an initial force to the right and then a force from the left, meaning the net force is the larger force minus the smaller force. And in either case the net force will be less than the larger force, and mass will stay the same, so the acceleration must decrease. Since acceleration is the rate of change in velocity, and acceleration is decreasing, the velocity must be decreasing as well. Is this correct?

It seems like common sense when the direction of two forces are opposite each other, but is more confusing when they are perpendicular, but I'm guessing that any force being applied from a different direction will decrease the net force from whatever the largest force applied is. So, I believe the answer to my original question is that it takes less additional force to move a ball from a stationary position (net force 0), than when there is an additional force being applied from a different direction to an original positive net force. Is that correct?o_O

So, maybe in my original, original question, this would somewhat imply that it requires less force to just move the ball horizontally, rather than vertically and then horizontally, because the vertical force will subtract from the horizontal force right?
 
  • #16
You're getting there. But I ask you to return to the simple F=ma. What if there is no net force F? F=0. How much force does it take to make a ball move to the right (neglecting air drag)?
 
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  • #17
anorlunda said:
You're getting there. But I ask you to return to the simple F=ma. What if there is no net force F? F=0. How much force does it take to make a ball move to the right (neglecting air drag)?
Darn, thought I had it!o_O

It depends on the mass right? ... but the mass is the same...

The acceleration includes direction, so won't it have a similar result as net force, because acceleration is happening in two different directions?

wait.. I understand that 2 opposite forces can create a 0 net force, but how can you have 0 force and still have mass, with 0 acceleration in the equation? This means that as far as the equation is concerned, the mass and acceleration are both also 0 when the force is 0? Like an astronaut floating in space is weightless...

Does this mean the mass changes as the force changes? I feel like I'm getting further away from the answer...:doh:
 
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  • #18
Here's a hint. The picture shows Elon Musk's tesla in space headed toward Mars. How much force does it take to keep it moving? Especially when it is far far away from any planet? And where would that force come from?

1650042878845.png
 
  • #19
anorlunda said:
Here's a hint. The picture shows Elon Musk's tesla in space headed toward Mars. How much force does it take to keep it moving? Especially when it is far far away from any planet? And where would that force come from?
I'm honestly not sure. I've seen astronauts or other things, like in the ISS, floating and it takes very little force to move something in a specific direction. When they are floating, they are moving a little, but it is hard to tell if it is from prior force applied. However, without a directional force their movement is non-directional, so I'm not sure if that counts as (positive net) acceleration either. Space is also not a perfect vacuum, so I'm not sure if they would move at all, without prior applied force, if it was.

So, I'm going to say that there must be some force applied to create mass and acceleration. However, you asked "to keep it moving", to which I guess the answer is 0, due to Newton's first law, inertia. So, I think there is 0 "additional force" required to keep the rocket ship moving, and the original force came from the rocket thrust used to leave Earth.

However, I'm not sure if the Force in F=ma takes original force into account. But I'm guessing that it doesn't, and is only referring to current applied force, in which case, F=0, m=0 and acceleration is positive. By looking at this equation I would understand that the object is moving due to prior applied force.
 
  • #20
Good for you, you figured it out. Your hand pushing on the basketball can accelerate or decelerate it. The hand is not needed to keep it moving (neglecting air drag.)

In real life here on Earth there is always some drag. But in space there can be no drag. However, drag isn't enough to play a role in your original questions.

So now that you got it, go back to your original questions and the answers should be clear. Congratulations.
 
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  • #21
anorlunda said:
So now that you got it, go back to your original questions and the answers should be clear. Congratulations.
Wow, I wish that were true!:sorry:

Every answer just leads to more questions. Therefore, I don't see my line of questioning ending anytime soon, but you have already done more than enough, so I will stop wasting your time.

Thanks for your help and your patience!:bow:

If I want more answers I should take some proper physics courses or something!
 
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Related to How to shoot longer shots in basketball

1. How can I improve my shooting range in basketball?

To shoot longer shots in basketball, it is important to have a strong and consistent shooting form. This includes having proper footwork, a good release, and following through with your shot. Additionally, practicing shooting from longer distances can help build muscle memory and improve your shooting range.

2. What muscles are used when shooting longer shots in basketball?

Shooting longer shots in basketball requires the use of several muscles in the upper body, including the shoulders, arms, and wrists. The legs are also important for generating power and stability in the shot. It is important to have a strong and balanced overall body strength to shoot longer shots effectively.

3. How can I increase my shooting accuracy from longer distances?

To increase shooting accuracy from longer distances, it is important to have a consistent shooting form and to practice shooting from different spots on the court. Additionally, focusing on your target and having good hand-eye coordination can help improve accuracy. It is also important to have proper footwork and balance when shooting from longer distances.

4. What are some drills or exercises I can do to improve my long-range shooting?

Some drills and exercises that can help improve long-range shooting include shooting from different spots on the court, practicing shooting off the dribble, and incorporating game-like scenarios into your shooting drills. It can also be helpful to work on strengthening your upper body and legs through weight training and plyometric exercises.

5. How do I know when to shoot a long-range shot in a game?

Knowing when to shoot a long-range shot in a game requires good decision-making and understanding of your own shooting abilities. It is important to assess the situation, such as the score, time left in the game, and the position of defenders, before deciding to take a long-range shot. It is also important to communicate with your teammates and look for open shots or passing opportunities before taking a long-range shot.

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