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What affects the bounce of a squash ball?

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What affects the bounce of a squash ball?


I have used books and the Internet to research bouncing and this is a summary of what I found:image00.pngimage01.png

  1. Before a ball bounces it has gravitational potential

Energy, while its falling this changes to kinetic and as it image23.pngimage03.pngimage24.pngimage00.pngimage22.pngimage03.pngimage02.pngimage13.pngimage21.pngimage04.pngimage07.pngimage11.png

makes impact with the surface, and the ball is deformed,

energy is lost in many ways.   80% of the energy is lost on

impact.   Some goes to heat and sound to the surroundings.  

  1. But in the ball most of the energy is changed to elastic

Potential and a little to heat.  As the ball is deformed, or

Squashed, it is under pressure and this elastic potential

Energy needs to be released (as kinetic – the bounce) when

the material relaxes and stretches back.  

...read more.



The links, or the bonds, stretch and break, losing energy

 Which does not come back.  

  1. Producers of squash balls can control the bounce of

a ball by the amount of cross links between the polymer

molecules.  They do this by having different mixtures of

Polymers for different balls.  


From my research I have identified the following variables which could affect the bounce of a squash ball.  

1.          Height is one of the variables.   As height increases so does the height of the bounce, because the higher the ball is the more gravitational potential energy it has (look at research2).  

2.          Surface is another, obviously the ball will not bounce well on a soft carpet.  This is because different surfaces absorb different amounts of energy, differentiating the height of the ball.  

3.          Different types of squash balls have different resilience (research4).   If a ball has a higher resilience (can store a lot of energy under deformation) it can bounce higher (research2).  Different balls show their resilience by the colour dot they have.  

4.          Temperature is another variable.  As temperature increases the cross-links between the molecules weakens (research3), which means less energy is wasted in stretching the chains and molecules and breaking the cross-links.

...read more.


  • I didn’t read the thermometer properly
  • I didn’t read the ruler properly
  • I left the ball out of the water for too long
  • I didn’t hold the ball exactly at 1m

To improve this result I should:

  • Drop the ball immediately from out the water
  • Ask a friend to tell you whether you’re holding the ball at 1m
  • To read the ruler exactly is hard unless you use a video camera and pause at the point and then read off, but I couldn’t have done that.  

Most of my anomalies were at 70’C and 20’C.   I cannot really explain this but maybe it was because I didn’t leave the ball to reach that temperature or some other fault from above.  If I were to do this experiment again I would try and make it more accurate by:

  • Using a video camera (above)
  • Using a timer to time 1 minute (when I should leave the ball to reach that temperature
  • Use many friends to help read out heights

But there would be no way to make this experiment be a lot more accurate.  

...read more.

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