Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"Underhanded Achievement", by Curtis Rust. Discover, October 2000,pages 35-36.

Why are some basketball players so bad at free throws? Former NBA star RickBarry believes it's because they don't throw the ball underhand. The articlediscusses an analysis by a retired physics professor, who, "using lots oftrigonometry," calculated the optimal angle of the arc of the ball from thefree-throw line. In addition, a teacher of basketball physics analyzes ways ofavoiding a sidewards drift of the ball, or, in his words, "minimizing thex-axis motion." Despite these analyses showing the superiority of theunderhand "granny shot," NBA players stick to the less successful overhand shot.

--- Allyn Jackson

American Mathematical Society