Physical Science in Basketball
Physical Science in Basketball
There are four main forces that act on a basketball moving through the air. They are gravity, drag, the Magnus force, and buoyancy. Gravity is the force that pulls objects toward each other. Usually, gravity refers to the way Earth pulls everything to the ground. In the case of a basketball, gravity pulls the ball down.
Physical Science in Basketball is part of Crabtree’s “Science Gets Physical” series. Author Enzo George effectively shows how physical science applies to basketball. Your young athletes are going to love learning how to use physics to improve their game, and your basketball fans are sure to enjoy learning more about the game. The bonus is that science teachers are going to love how the book teaches students the laws of physics without even trying. Win-Win-Win.
The power behind a jump depends on two factors: strength and velocity. Strength, or force, is the greatest output of your muscles. Velocity is the greatest amount of speed you have. Players can learn to jump higher. They can do so by increasing their strength or velocity in relation to their body weight. It is much easier to jump off the ground while you are running than while you are standing still. Velocity multiplies the amount of force your muscles supply to produce more power. There is an equation to remember this: power = force x velocity.
The physics tie-ins in this book involve the anatomy of a basketball player, the equipment, such as the ball, the courts, and shoes and clothing, and the skills involved in playing the game, such as moving the ball, shooting, and jumping.
The main body of text is mostly black on white with many photographs that show both male and female players, with a good diversity of races. Some of the professional basketball players in the photos may be familiar to basketball fans: legends such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and newcomer WNBA star Cecilia Zandalasini.
Two types of coloured text boxes highlight “Science Wins!” and “Getting Physical”. “Science Wins!” features basketball stars and how science works to enhance their game. “Getting Physical” explains the physics behind different aspects of the game.
Getting Physical: Energy
In this photo, the player on the right is dribbling the ball. When you dribble a ball, you use two kinds of energy. When you hold the ball above the floor, it has potential energy. Potential energy is the energy an object has from its position and its ability to move. When you drop the ball, the potential energy changes to kinetic energy. Kinetic energy is movement energy. When the ball hits the floor, the kinetic energy makes it bounce back up.
Physical Science in Basketball ends with an activity where readers investigate “how a ball bounces on different surfaces”. This activity includes a list of materials you will need, instructions, an analysis consisting of two questions, and a conclusion. For the sake of encouraging students to attempt to answer the “Why do you think that happened?”, it would have been advantageous to have the “Conclusion” explanation on a different page. The physical layout of the explanation directly below the question leaves no opportunity for using the information in the book to reach an independent answer to the question.
Overall, Physical Science in Basketball is a good book with one flaw for Canadian bookshelves. The Toronto Raptors NBA basketball team is not mentioned at all, an omission which is very regrettable especially considering that the Raptors were NBA Champions last year (2019).
Dr. Suzanne Pierson is a former librarian and library course instructor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.