Jonathan Bunge and The Physics of the Perfect 3-Point Shot

Practice does make perfect – but research also helps. Basketball skills can be improved with sports science. In fact, scientists are studying the physics behind the perfect three-point shot. There are many factors involved in this, two of which are listed and described below.

The arc of the shot: Research shows that the lowest arc possible for a three-point shot is about 33 degrees. The perfect three-point shot is measured to have an arc of 45 degrees, a speed of just around 20 miles per hour (with two revolutions per second of spin), and is thrown at 20.9 feet from the basket.

The Magnus effect: This describes the lift force of an object and directly impacts the flight of a ball. As one can imagine, the Magnus effect is heavily studied by athletes whose sports involve a ball. Golfers, baseball players, even tennis, and table tennis players employ this effect to curve the flight of their ball. In basketball, it is important for players to throw the ball in such a way that the backspin gives the ball a lift at the slowest possible speed. This reduces the rebound in case the ball hits the backboard or rim.

It was found that the perfect three-point shot is composed of three things: correct speed, right angle of approach, and the perfect arc of the ball. Another important factor is practice. Consistency determines reliability. Even if basketball players do not fully understand the physics involved, it would help if they understand the basic mechanics of it. This, combined with their regular practice sessions, should significantly improve their chances of scoring a perfect shot.

Jon Bunge from Chicago studies physiology and sports science. Learn more when you follow him on Twitter.

Image One:
Image Source:

Image Two:
Image Source:

Tags: sports science, basketball tips, science and basketball


The Physics of Shooting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *