Science & Tech — 15 January 2014

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Have you ever wondered about the physics behind bouncing balls? If not, read on to know why different balls give you a different bounce. You cannot use the same ball in two different games like tennis and basketball. The materials and sizes of balls make them suitable for varied sports. Let us understand some of the factors that determine the differentiation in ball bounce.

Operational Forces and Height

There are different forces in play while you are playing with a ball. When you throw it, the gravitational force pulls it down. On the other hand, physical forces change your ball’s shape when it hits the ground. Different types of balls react differently to these forces. While a properly inflated round ball may recover its shape after hitting the ground and may bounce back sharply, a loose or soft ball may not be able to bounce so swiftly. In addition, the more is the height of a ball drop, the more will be its bounce.

Bouncing Surfaces

A difference in surfaces and their materials may affect the shape and bounce of a ball hitting them. While a Styrofoam surface can help a ball bounce faster and higher, a ceramic or metal surface cannot bring the same effect.

Materials of Balls

The material of a ball may also support or hinder its bounce. Some materials like rubber have more elasticity. That is why rubber balls bounce higher than those made of cork do. Like elasticity, several other properties of a material may also put an effect on the bouncing of a particular ball.

Temperature Variations

You would notice that balls having more elasticity perform better when the temperature is warmer. It happens due to the expansion of air molecules inside them. This helps them retain their shape for a longer time. The opposite may happen when it is colder. While certain materials like rubber may help the bounce under varying temperatures, some other materials may not do this.

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Written by Anupam Jolly

With a bachelor’s degree in technology and over five years of experience in online content generation and distribution, Anupam Jolly has been creating and editing content spanning across a variety of domains. An avid environmentalist, Anupam Jolly believes that if humans can degrade the environment, they can save it from disaster too.

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Anupam Jolly

With a bachelor’s degree in technology and over five years of experience in online content generation and distribution, Anupam Jolly has been creating and editing content spanning across a variety of domains. An avid environmentalist, Anupam Jolly believes that if humans can degrade the environment, they can save it from disaster too.

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