Modeling March Madness: Simulating a 3-Point Shot

With March Madness beginning today (US college basketball tournament), I was asked to create a basketball simulation, so here we go!

Let’s try a three-pointer with backspin from 8 meters. It hits the back board a bit low and off center so it…

…barely finds its way after no less than nine rim/backboard impacts. In fact, one tiny mm higher or lower wouldn’t be as lucky. Notice how the heavy backspin really digs the ball out of the basket on the second rim impact. It’s all over in 1 second.


For the nerds:

Ball circumference: 29.5 inch*

Ball weight: 22 ounce*

Inflation pressure: 8 PSI*

Ball materials: viscoelastic TPU on a nylon reinforced core

Ball rebounce: 49-54 inch from 6 feet*

Friction: 0.7 (TPU shoreA 70 on wood)

Velocity vector: calculated based on 45 degree shooting trajectory from three point position

Ball rotation: 60 rad/s


Mesh: HyperMesh, 36000 elements, all parts hexmeshed

Solver: RADIOSS, 20 min-2 hours (laptop) depending on how well you shoot

Postprocessor: HyperView

Rendering: Evolve

*According to basketball regulations

Magnus Lindvall
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Magnus Lindvall

About Magnus Lindvall

Mechanical engineer with seventeen years of CAE experience. Thirteen great years with Altair at different positions. Generalist with interest in conceptual development, consumer products, polymers, optimization, transient simulations and multi physics. Passion for problem solving. Working as a Technical Specialist in the Swedish PD team.