Wednesday, June 5, 2013


I was watching the Heat & the Pacers the other day and a question popped into my head. I innocently tweeted this question in its infancy:

That small question grew into a larger broader question: given the differences in hand size and ball size, do men or women gain the greater advantage?  

Things to consider:

  • Hand spans.  Men have larger hand spans then women do.  This data is searchable on the internet, but I might find it much more interesting to survey my class and use that distribution of hand sizes.
  • Basketball sizes.  The WNBA basketball is between a half an inch to an inch smaller than the NBA basketball.  It varies for some reason while the NBA ball does not.  I wonder if the size of WNBA balls are normally or uniformly distributed?
  • Hoop size.  It doesn't change.  But a smaller basketball is more likely to go in.  Is that half inch to an inch enough to make a difference?  I imagine the distribution of shots around the hoop to look like this.  (The dot represents the center of the basketball looking overhead.)

  • Scoring.  All of this aside, the strategies employed by WNBA teams vary significantly from their NBA counterparts.  And I'm sure other physical attributes make a really big impact.  Still, is there a way you could parse the data in a way that allow us to make an inference about whether the size of the ball affects scoring?  Probably not.
All in all, this will float around in my head this summer.  I'm not sure I could make this into a great lesson, but someone out there can, I'm sure!

1 comment:

  1. Love the challenge. I read somewhere about the diameter of the ball and the diameter of the hoop and how that influences free throws. Wish I knew where that reference was!