Friday, August 08, 2008

Everyone Should Shoot Granny-Style in Basketball!

Y'know, I've always wondered this for a long time, just never thought I'd see it in print. I mean, if you look at the angle that the ball comes in during its trajectory, one would think a more vertical approach would present a larger area for the ball to fall through.

Well now, there is a study on throwing a ball at a basketball hoop that says what I've been thinking - that throwing underhanded, or "granny style", increases the likelihood of the ball going into the basket, than throwing it overhand.

The key to a successful foul shot lies in the arc of the ball—in general, the higher the better. While an official-size basket is 18 inches in diameter, the basketball itself is only about 9 1/2 inches, which gives a margin of 8 1/2 inches. But when the ball is thrown nearly straight at the basket, in the style of Shaq, the margin disappears because the rim of the basket, from the perspective of the ball, resembles a tight ellipse. “That’s why these guys miss so much,” Brancazio says. “Because of the sharp angle of the typical overhand throw, there ends up being a much smaller window for the ball to go in.” If the ball comes down at the basket from a steeper angle, the way it does if tossed up in the high arc characteristic of an underhand throw, the margin reappears. “That means there’s a far greater chance of making the basket,” he says.

Told ya! :)

Still, I don't think any basketball player, especially the professional, and the coaches, will pay much attention to this. But wouldn't it be interesting if someone actually does?



Kevin J Smith Jr said...

Funny post. However, that would mean that players, if they would embrace grandma, have to train for two types of shots: the live game, highest possible release point shot, and the high-arching free throw. Would splitting practice on two types of shots actually help, since we assume they would practice less on the in-game shot?

ZapperZ said...

That certainly would be possible.

I can definitely see why the overhead shot is necessary during a live game, since it reduces the possibility of the opposition from smacking at the ball after release. So in that sense, the physics of the shot is not applicable since it doesn't consider the situation it is being used. But for free throw, it certainly is a strong possibility.

The only question is, can one learn to separate shots equally well?


JimV said...

Another advantage of the underhand freethrow (which my dad used) is that it uses both arms, giving a more balanced, controlled shot.

A slight disadvantage of the high-arcing shot, whether underhand or overhand, it that it takes more energy than a 45-degree (initially) arc (which arrives at the basket with a fairly flat trajectory, unless you are well over 6' tall). Thus it is a bit harder to control, and less apt to rattle around and fall in if slightly off target.

The biggest reason why most players don't use an underhand free throw is that they cannot use that kind of shot much during actual play - too easy to block. So they stick with the style of shot they use during the rest of the game. (Hal Greer used to shot actual jump shots from the free throw line, in an extreme example of this.)

(I now see that since I started typing this, KJR has beaten me to my main point.)

Tom said...

Nobody's old enough to remember Rick Barry? (I played floor hockey once or twice with his son Brent when I was in grad school)