The math and mind behind a shot

Remember in high school or college, or even last week, when a friend or relative would launch into an explanation of some feat of physics, complete with air drawings of formulas.  The entire time he (because males seem to have cornered the market on this behavior) was blissfully unaware of his audience’s comprehension level sinking rapidly to zero. I read an article today in Wired Magazine that will remind you of that time.

When played properly, without the bravado and intimidation and stupidity and selfishness exhibited by 99% of players in the NBA, basketball is a sport of the heart and mind.  In its purest form, it demonstrates that humans have the capacity to see what the eyes cannot, hold and control a ball with just the nerve endings of the fingers, and, with grace, fly and contort the body in ways that defy gravity.  I believe shooting a basket is more art than science, more poetry than prose, but the article goes the distance in tediously explaining the math behind optimizing a shot. Wow, holy take-the-fun-out-of-the-game.  🙂

I found the article very interesting but it made me think this. Good players are students of their sport but it’s extremely unlikely they will analyze it to the degree presented in the article. If they were to do so, they would probably end up flaming out and leaving their beloved sport because of the doubt introduced by over-thinking. When I played, the trajectory of the ball as it left my hands and traveled to the basket varied by angle, defender, shoes, court surface, lighting, and what I ate two hours before. It was the hundreds of hours of practice and the heat and stress of games that enabled me to shoot well.

It was fun to read the math but the truth is, desire and the mind (not the brain) control the entire beautiful act.

About Peter Armaly
I get jazzed by automation, big data, and blockchain tech. Business, technology, and fitness are things I understand. Scotch, wine, food, and fiction are things I appreciate.

2 Responses to The math and mind behind a shot

  1. MiC Harris says:

    Pete you have a great shot. You explain it beautifully; the complexity of art versus science.

    • Peter Armaly says:

      Haha. Thanks, Mike. I offer the correction that I USED to have a great shot. Been a few years and the ball going through hoop from 30 feet is just a memory now. A good one though.

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