spaceSpace and Physics

Throwing "Granny Style" Is Best For Professional Basketball Players


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

Maybe not you, kid. Talita Nicolielo/Shutterstock

If you’ve played basketball before, you probably know that most shots are performed overarm, with your arm going over your head as you shoot. Well, a new study says underarm throwing – or “granny style” – may be best for certain shots, for professionals at least.

The study was published in the journal Royal Society Open Science, and led by Madhusudhan Venkadesan from Yale University in Connecticut. The researchers found that when a player shot a free throw from the foul line, they had a higher chance of scoring with an underarm throw than an overarm one.


The reason is that an underarm throw has a better parabolic trajectory, and thus is less likely to miss the rim. It’s also got a lower speed so even if the ball hits the rim, it’s more likely to then fall into the net, rather than bouncing out.

“One suspects there are social and cultural reasons you don’t see [the underarm throw] practiced too often,” Venkadesan told The Guardian. “So what if some call it the ‘granny throw’? What matters is that the ball goes through the hoop!”

The granny style though was made use of by retired NBA player Rick Barry, who had a remarkable 90 percent free throw record – the fourth best in NBA history and highest in American Basketball Association (ABA) – in the 1970s.

However, the underarm technique has a greater chance of missing the target for amateurs, due to poor control of the ball. So if you’re not a professional, well, you might still want to throw overarm, which is less likely to miss the target.


An underarm throw is also not the best tactic in other sports. Darts and baseball players, for example, both benefit from throwing overarm to improve their accuracy with speed.


[H/T: The Guardian]


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