In defense of granny style

Underhand free throws aren't stupid— they just look stupid. According to Curtis Rist in Discover Magazine, more players should try throwing "granny style" like 1950s basketball star Rick Barry.

One benefit of the granny shot is the arc it puts on the ball. A hoop is almost twice the diameter of a basketball, leaving plenty of room for error when a ball is shot right at the hoop without a big, rainbow-shaped arc. However, when players throw the ball in a straight line to the hoop, that hoop's shape is more of an ellipses— a smaller target.

The granny shot gives backspin to the ball, which may make it more likely to tip in after hitting the rim. Throwing the ball with two hands may improve aim, too.

"Despite the logic of a granny approach to foul shooting, no NBA player has used it since Barry retired in 1980. 'That baffles me,' Barry says. 'With the underhand shot, I could make 80 percent of my throws with my eyes closed. And I do mean closed.' Over the years he has tried to convert everyone from four of his sons who have played professionally to Shaq to Chris Dudley—but nobody has paid any attention. 'A lot of guys who are lousy at the free throw would be prime candidates for this, but they just won't do it,' says Barry, whom the NBA identified as one of the 50 Greatest Players in history in 1996. 'I mean, how can guys call themselves professionals when they can't even make 60 percent of their free throws? Where's their sense of pride?'"

Discover Magazine