From what I understand, as a ball is released from some height above a surface, it accelerates downward at 9.81m/s^2 due to the Earth's gravitational field. Once it reaches contact with the solid surface, the surface exerts a normal force on the ball due to electromagnetic interactions with the ball, and because of Newton's 3rd law, the ball also exerts an equal and opposite force onto the surface. As the forces are exerted, the force on the ball results in the downward velocity of the ball to decrease very quickly, and it must exceed the ball's weight too in order to make it accelerate upwards. My problem with this is the following: why must the normal force exert itself onto the ball at a high enough magnitude and high enough duration to switch the direction of the ball's velocity? Why doesn't the normal force simply decelerate the ball until it is at rest on the surface? What properties influence how much the object is accelerated upwards and why?
Please avoid the standard and overly simple "conservation of energy" explanation because it doesn't satisfy me, as it somewhat ignores the process of the ball's contact with the ground, and only considers the ball before and after collision with the ground.
In terms of energy conservation, what makes a ball conserve all its energy before and after bouncing if energy conservation only means that the energy in the closed system (the surface and the ball), must remain constant, and not that the energy of the ball before collision must be equal to the energy of the ball after collision?
Also, I have heard of the term "elastic" and "inelastic" collision, but I don't really understand what properties make an elastic collision perfectly elastic? What, physically, makes the energy of the ball be equal to the energy after?
Please comment on the fact that the surface exerts a force on the ball as it bounces over some distance. Would that mean that the ground does some work on the ball, ther3efore changing its energy?
I've heard some people saying that the ball's kinetic energy is transformed into elastic potential energy as it deforms, and is transformed back into kinetic as the ball bounces, but this doesn't seem to make much sense to me because it assumes the the ball's energy must be conserved, even though it shouldn't be, given that the surface exerts a force on it over some distance to accelerate it upwards.
I might be wrong, so please correct me. Thank you!