Forces on a Bouncing Ball

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A ball flies through the air, hits the ground, and bounces back up. You can choose a soccer ball, basketball, or volleyball, and select the initial velocity, angle of incidence, and angle of rebound to determine the forces on the ball when it hits the ground. The coefficient of restitution for each type of ball is estimated as 0.8, which means that the vertical velocity is reduced by 20% after impact with the ground. Frictional forces also reduce the horizontal velocity of the ball. The frictional and normal forces are found from the input values, using the change of momentum component with time , .

Contributed by: Anissa Dadkhah (June 2015)
Based on a problem by William Harvie (Torrey Pines AP Physics C)
Open content licensed under CC BY-NC-SA



is the coefficient of restitution = , where is the rebound height and is the drop height.

is the initial total velocity.

is the initial vertical velocity.

is the initial horizontal velocity.

is the final total velocity.

is the final vertical velocity.

is the final horizontal velocity.

is the net vertical force.

is the net horizontal force.


is the mass.


is the initial momentum.

is the final momentum.




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