Chapter 3: Projectile Motion

  • Use equations of motion for projectiles
  • Determine the optimum release conditions for maximum distance

Projectile Motion

A Projectile is any body that has been set on its path by some force and continues in motion by its own inertia. (Gravity has a major effect on motion).

Examples of Projectiles include: Example 1, Example 2, Example 3, Example 4

Let's begin simply with purely vertical motion

Now let's add horizontal motion

Horizontal and vertical components are independent

Equations of motion for projectiles (Download video)

Characteristics of projectiles

Demonstration on what happens as initial conditions are altered


  • What happens to horizontal displacement as velocity is increased?
  • What happens to the optimal initial angle for distance when release height is increased?

Basketball Shot (Steph Curry 2013)

What could Steph do to become more accurate (2013-42.4%, 2014-44.3%, 2015-45.4%)?

What would happen to Steph's accuracy if he were to shoot greater than a 55% release angle?

How about greater than 30ft?

Things get more complex when takeoff and landing heights are different

Shot Put Example