My friend majoring in aerospace engineering recently told me that throwing underhand is proven to be a more successful method for shooting free throws. He said *a bunch of scientific words that I didn't understand.* In short, it has something to do with how it’s easier to mimic the position of underhand versus trying to replicate the overhand technique. Overhand requires more movements and the less movements, the easier is it to repeat the action. Furthermore, an underhand throw restricts the spinning of the basketball making it simpler to aim. So I thought to myself why is it rare for NBA stars to shoot underhand if it is proven to be a more effective way to shoot? Well..
I admit it's not the coolest look in the world.
But OK, surely NBA stars don't care about how they look when they shoot. These guys are grown men here to make a career in basketball. What matters is if they are making shots right?
As Shaq said, "I'm too cool for that." And he's not the only one who refused to throw underhand. Wilt Chamberlain also said he felt like a "sissy." Nothing against these guys. I totally get why they wouldn't want to throw like this. However, I find it hard to believe that the Great Shaq and 7'1'' Wilt Chamberlain did not granny shot because it wasn't the status quo. But that's the sole reason guys, and here's why this matters.
I think we can all say we did something or didn’t do something, because we wanted to fit in. Maybe it wasn't direct peer pressure. No one told you to wear these clothes or eat this food, but, as a whole, humans tend to group. The NBA group shoot overhand. It doesn't matter that underhand is statistically proven to be better. It's deemed as "uncool" and even this big group of muscular men is not immune to conformity.
There are going to be the few, however, that take the shots other fear. These are the successful people, the ones who don’t let social norms stand in their way.
Rick Barry introduced the granny shot in the NBA in the 1970’s. His outlandish technique with a 90% free throw percentage earned him the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. For a while the granny shot/ underhand technique faded into oblivion until Chinanu Onuaku, a new addition to the Houston Rockets, was up for a free throw. He took after legendary Rick Barry and shot underhand with no shame. The crowd cheered as they saw the return of the infamous (but now less infamous) granny shot.
It’s not easy to go against the crowd; Rick Barry had his obstacles as a teen. People teased him for the technique during basketball practice. He often thought of giving up on the technique because of the taunting. Now look at the guy; he’s got one of the best free throws in the history of the NBA.
Everyone feels peer pressure one time or another. Even 6 foot tall 200 pound NBA stars fall victim to conventionality. But it's how you overcome that feeling that proves your character. Are you Onaku or Chamberlain? Barry or Shaq?
Go do the unordinary and be extraordinary. Go inspire and don't let the fear of looking silly or different stop you from doing what you love. Practice your art or your computer programming or dancing or writing. Who knows where your unique skills will lead you to. After all, you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.