We've Moved!

We've Moved!
Click here to head to riddickandreynolds.wordpress.com!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Nerding Out At The Free Throw Line

What happens when you have one of the world's best engineering schools in the heart of Tobacco Road? You get studies like this: The Physics Of Free Throw Shooting.

Drs. Chau Tran and Larry Silverberg, mechanical and aerospace engineers at State, put together a study involving hundreds of thousands of three-dimensional computer simulations to determine the following:

1. "...you should aim for the back of the rim, leaving close to 5 centimeters – about 2 inches – between the ball and the back of the rim. According to the simulations, aiming for the center of the basket decreases the probabilities of a successful shot by almost 3 percent."

2. "...shooters should launch the shot with about three hertz of back spin. That translates to the ball making three complete backspinning revolutions before reaching the hoop."

3. "...the ball should be launched at 52 degrees to the horizontal. ...the shot should, at the highest point in its arc to the basket, be less than 2 inches below the top of the backboard."

Good stuff.

The interesting thing to me is that I seem to recall (perhaps it was an urban legend) that Everett Case once published a paper on free throw shooting that suggested the two-handed underhand technique employed by Rick Barry was the most effective method for shooting consistent free throws. If that's the case (and I couldn't find anything online to support it), it's interesting to see that all these many years later, folks at State are still trying to find the most effective way to score points at the charity stripe.


  1. I'm going to scream out pointers based on this research at basketball games just for the crazy looks I'll get. "Remember, Javi, three hertz! Not two, not four, THREE!"

  2. +1 Steven...

    52 degrees Dennis!!! That looked more like 45.