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In all levels of basketball, nearly all layups are made by banking the ball off the backboard. Is there a simple explanation for why this is more common than a short shot directly through the rim? Does banking it somehow provide a larger margin of error?

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I can think of two reasons.

First, because the backboard is a vertical surface, it is easier to see and aim for with your shot. It is easier to pick a target on the board, aim for it, and hit it than it is to arc the ball and get it to land in the middle of the horizontal rim.

Second, when the ball hits the backboard, the backboard absorbs some of the kinetic energy of the ball, slowing it down. When this happens, the ball can fall into the basket and is less likely to bounce out after hitting the rim.

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Banking it actually lessens the margin of error and is easier to control/teach when you start learning how to play basketball. I don't know if this applies to you but this might help

https://www.wired.com/2011/03/physics-basketball-shots/

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  • interesting article, though it seems to show layups should be equally successful as either a bank or direct shot. – Craig W Apr 26 '18 at 13:25

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