I haven’t been able to write much because school has been kicking my butt recently. This post is actually going to start with something that happened in class today. I wanted to get it documented before tomorrow, which is when I’ll likely forget that it ever happened.
I was in my business law class, which is a general class that all business majors have to take to graduate. En route to a tangent, the subject of movies came up, and my teacher asked if there were any good ones in theaters right now. One kid mentioned that he heard Argo was good. The teacher immediately asked if the plot was true to history. He then went on to ask the class if there were any basketball fans in the class. Sitting in the front row, I didn’t raise my hand because I didn’t want to be put on the spot if I was the only one (1). He said that Hoosiers is an extremely inaccurate movie, and that the only similarity between the movie and actual story is that the team wins the 1954 Indiana state championship. A girl in my class then raised her hand and said that another proven fact in the movie is that a kid makes two under-handed or “granny” free throws.
My teacher shrugged. He thought for a moment, then said,”Here’s a trivia question. Name two professional basketball players who shot under-handed free throws.” Immediately a name popped into my head, but I waited for someone else to respond. When no one did, I casually threw out the guy I was thinking of. “Rick Barry”. The teacher looked at me for a second, then nodded in approval. I think his pause was because those were probably the first words I had spoken in the class all semester. No one guessed the second guy, which turned out to be Wilt Chamberlain (2).
As I was leaving class, I started thinking. There are no under-handed free throw shooters in today’s game. I can think of two reasons why. First, no one shoots them, so it’s not a very popular thing to do, and in this generation probably nobody knows that it can be accurate. Secondly, I think it has a certain stigma associated with it (3). On the flip side, I don’t understand why players who struggle at the line don’t try it. Extreme example: why doesn’t Chuck Hayes try shooting them under-handed? Youtube ‘chuck hayes free throws’ and tell me that he isn’t the perfect candidate to test the method. He’s a career 60% shooter from the line, and his free throw stroke is as smooth as Charles Barkley’s golf swing. If he implemented the under-handed free throw, I’m guessing there would be improvement.
I did a little bit of digging/research online about the history and practicality of the under-handed free throw, and I stumbled upon an interesting article (4)(5). I don’t want to get too into it, but it discusses how the under-handed shot is mathematically more accurate in accordance to the laws of physics, through looking at trajectory and such. Not trying to get scientific, but it makes sense I guess. I’m not saying everybody should shoot “granny style”, but I think it might benefit some players to experiment with it.
(1) Even if I know the answers to questions in class, I normally don’t raise my hand. Not my style. Especially not my style with teachers who like to heavily interact in their lecture.
(2) This was only half true. I’ve watched games of Wilt with the Lakers and he shot free throws normally, but I guess he tried various methods to improve his percentage, with one of these methods being the under-handed style.
(3) True story: In 8th grade I shot under-handed free throws during a game of 21 once. People genuinely thought I was gay because of it.
(4) Under-handed free throws link here.
(5) I didn’t literally ‘stumbleupon’. Similar to under-handed free throws, there is a stigma with the people that use that website. Not hating, just putting it out there.