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Physics shows that basketball penalty shots should probably be underhand. (discovermagazine.com)
21 points by DaniFong on Sept 20, 2008 | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments



Fuck. My Canadian, hockey playing background is showing through...


Then certainly you can appreciate the best modern free throw shooter Steve Nash (Canadian and former soccer and hockey player).

The key to making free throws is eliminating error, not finding a method that makes the shot x% easier.

Proper basketball form sets a player up to shoot the ball exclusively with one arm. By adding a second hand into the mix, shooting an underhanded shot you open up the process for more error.

Barry cannot be used as a meaningful example. Far more players have achieved success (and even greater success) using the traditional 1-handed shot. Even the world record holder for most consecutive shots used the traditional method.

The superiority of the granny-shot is just another myth spread by those who don't really know the sport.


Doesn't stability usually improve from one point of contact to two? It certainly does on your feet.


There are a flaws in this theory.

I believe you can achieve the optimal trajectory and spin using a normal shooting technique. Underhand has no advantage here.

A quote from the article

"Another reason why the granny shot helps a free thrower win cheers rather than jeers: It gives a backward spin to the ball."

If the writer had any basketball knowledge, they would know that every great shooter already has backspin on their ball using the normal shooting styles.

The biggest flaw in the article is here.

On the first page, it states that the shorter you are, the higher angle you must shoot the ball. It then goes on to say that shooting a ball straight in the air is the hardest to aim.

Therefore, you are to assume that you rather release the ball from a higher point to increae accuracy, since high angle=poor aim.

So, why not release the ball above your head instead of around your waist or chest???

I don't think we will see anyone shooting this way any time soon.

-d


"... He was a deadly free-throw shooter, using an odd, outdated underhand style. At the time of his retirement, Barry's .900 career free-throw percentage was the best in NBA history. In one season, 1978-79, he missed only 9 free-throw attempts ..." ~ http://www.nba.com/history/players/barry_bio.html

Rick Barry was a underhand free-throw foul shot. And he was pretty good at as well. But having spent my youth on the court I have to say I could never really get the hang of underhand shots. It's Sunday & basketball training is on my mind. The standard shooting technique relies on your lead hand:

- assume triple-threat position

- holding the ball in the finger tips, fingers extended resting the ball in the palm

- the non lead arm rests to the side of the ball, steadying it so it doesn't fall out. It remains in line with the lead arm until the lead arm reaches the chin when releasing the ball.

- angle body behind lead foot (so your whole body is aligned towards the ring... extra movement but it straitens the shot)

- bringing the ball down to shoulder height, arm crooked

- bend knees making sure arm is still rigid

- at the bottom of the knee bend, push back up

- at the top of the knee-up, push the lead arm upwards brushing the ball past the chin

- extend the lead arm pushing it straight upwards, wrist still cocked behind the ball.

- almost at the top of the lead arm extension, the wrist is quickly snapped foward releasing the ball with a backwards spin towards the ring.

- follow the wrist snap through and make sure the lead arm is pointing forward towards the ring.

This is the key to the height the article mentions. If you fail to release the ball it falls short or overshoots. Now the foul-shot is really a pressure shot. If you waiver a bit on the way up, choke and not follow through the lead wrist, you will probably miss.

"... He was a deadly free-throw shooter, using an odd, outdated underhand style. At the time of his retirement, Barry's .900 career free-throw percentage was the best in NBA history. In one season, 1978-79, he missed only 9 free-throw attempts ..." ~ http://www.nba.com/history/players/barry_bio.html

It's the touch that makes the shot here. And the touch is the hardest to master. I used to warm up standing still, pushing the ball as high as I could controlling where I pushed the lead arm so the ball went straight up. Then move to the side of the key moving away from the ring. Finally to the foul line. You still have to practice your touch to practice your outside/jump shots but at the foul line anything that can improve your percentage should probably be looked at.

Here is Barry himself demonstrating his technique ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4eJSjwlD5o

"... Of course, lobbing a ball very high so that it comes down nearly straight into the basket would be the most efficient technique, but a shot like that 'is almost impossible to aim' ..."

That is the weakness of using the standard foul shot. To get the shot up high it is difficult to aim. Not impossible but any wobble going up and lack of follow through to the rim.


So basically underhand works too well, so you get social pressure not to use it? ("odd, outdated underhand style"?)


Well, the thing they didn't say in the article is that height matters. For a 7 foot guy with an additional 3 foot reach (like Shaq) the underhand shot makes a huge difference in terms of the angle the ball approaches the basket. For a 6 foot guy with a 2 foot reach, the benefit of this shooting style is much smaller.


"... For a 7 foot guy with an additional 3 foot reach (like Shaq) the underhand shot makes a huge difference in terms of the angle the ball approaches the basket. ..."

For the record Barrys prime height is 6'7".


I think this is more a case of certain things being trendy for other reasons and ignoring success rates because until recently it was difficult to quantify one method as better than another.

It boggles my mind to imagine how much more awesome sports could be as technology improves and optimal styles develop.


Another reason not to used the underhand is that it can only be used on the foul line. (Can you imagine an easier shot to defend!)

When a high-level basketball player might shoot 50,000 shots in an off season why would they split time between two techniques? (Especially when the granny-method isn't fundamentally better when it comes to bio-mechanics)


Interesting that you first give a reasonable explanation - and then immediately revert to social pressure (granny method) while saying something incorrect, since it is fundamentally better in terms of bio-mechanics - read the article.


Penalty Shots? Heh.


Came here to say that...

Seriously, penalty shots?




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