05/24/2005: The Granny Shot
Today on our local public radio station, WKNO, I heard an interesting Moment of Science regarding the granny shot. According to the story, the granny shot is a much better way to shoot a free throw than an overhanded shot.
Making a free throw, or any shot for that matter, depends on arc. A shot with an arc of thirty-two degrees or less has a good chance of hitting the back of the rim and bouncing out. A shot with more arc has a better chance of swishing straight through the net. The upward tossing motion of the granny shot naturally imparts the arc needed to give it a good chance to fall through the hoop.
The granny shot also makes it easier to put more backspin on the ball than you can with an overhand shot. Backspin stops the ball's forward motion when it hits the rim, similar to how a drop shot in tennis freezes the ball when it bounces.
And finally, the granny shot uses both hands, which helps keep the ball on a straight path. An overhand shot requires separate motions of the wrist, elbow, and shoulder, increasing the likelihood of sending the ball off course.
Of course, this raises (not begs!) the question of why professional (and even amateur) players don't use the granny shot when shooting free throws. Is it just because it doesn't look cool?
Brock on 05.24.05 @ 06:44 PM CST