How Should You Launch a Ball to Achieve the Greatest Distance?

Physics gives a precise answer, at least in an ideal setting

In the Projectile Motion episode of NBC Learn’s "The Science of NFL Football," you see that punted footballs travel in an arc known to mathematicians as a parabola.
In any football game both teams square off against each other and against a shared opponent as well—gravity. Earth’s gravitational pull makes long-range passing a challenge and pulls down even the hardest-struck punts and placekicks.
Because gravity is a constant, experienced quarterbacks and kickers can account for its effects to move the ball downfield as efficiently as possible. Like all projectiles, a football, once released, follows a path known in mathematical terms as a parabola—a symmetric arc that eventually returns the ball back to the ground. (In real life a projectile’s flight is affected not only by gravity but by wind and drag from air resistance, so the parabola would not be perfect.)

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