Article | March 21, 2023

Digital Debunking: How Difficult Is It To Shatter A Backboard?

Source: Altair Engineering Inc
GettyImages-1359549027 shattered basketball hoop

Before basketball hoops were designed to resist the force of certain plays, the sport of basketball has seen legendary, glass-shattering dunks throughout its history. A “Shaq attack” by the legendary Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal became a coined term during his career because he unofficially damaged 12.5 basketball rims, shattered backboards, and even brought down entire stanchions with his overpowering strength and size; during his playing days, O’Neal clocked in at 7’1”, 375 pounds. In 2020, one professional player dunked the ball so hard he bent the entire rim. Even more recently on February 4, 2023 play was delayed for 43 minutes during a game due to a crooked rim. 

Since the NCAA college basketball tournament is in full swing, basketball has been on our minds. As such, we decided to use Altair simulation tools to push a basketball hoop model to its limits to see how much force a backboard can withstand before it breaks (keeping in mind current design regulations). Not only that, but how does a player’s direction, angle, weight, and force contribute to shattering a backboard? Or is there a completely different variable that causes this to happen?

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