The Curious Case of Men and Free Throw Shooting: Can We Learn From Rick Barry?

Sportsbook Hank Sportsbook Hank
May 7, 2023
Barry said in an interview. "People think it looks funny. But the bottom line is, it works."

Free throw shooting is a critical aspect of basketball that can make or break a game. It’s a straightforward play that requires a player to shoot from the free throw line without any obstructions. However, despite its simplicity, some players struggle with this seemingly easy task. Interestingly, men tend to be particularly vulnerable to this issue.

One player who excelled at free throw shooting was Rick Barry. Barry, a former NBA player, had an impressive free throw percentage of 90.0% throughout his career — his success on the court has prompted many to question why more men don’t adopt his shooting style.

“Looks funny but it works”

One theory is that men are hesitant to shoot underhand free throws, which is the technique Barry famously used. This form of shooting is often seen as unmanly or uncool, leading players to avoid it despite its proven effectiveness. However it’s worth noting that some of the best free throw shooters in the NBA have utilized the underhand technique, including Wilt Chamberlain, who had a career free throw percentage of 51.1%.

According to a study conducted by the Wall Street Journal, NBA players shooting underhand free throws have an average success rate of 75%, compared to 71% for players who shoot overhand. Yet, the underhand technique remains underutilized, especially by men. “It’s kind of like a stigma,” Barry said in an interview. “People think it looks funny. But the bottom line is, it works.”

Another theory is that men tend to rely too heavily on their physical prowess, leading them to overlook the technical aspects of shooting. Men are often taught to shoot the ball with power, which can be beneficial in some cases but can also lead to erratic shots. In contrast, the underhand technique that Barry used emphasizes precision and consistency, making it a viable option for those looking to improve their free throw shooting.

Furthermore, psychological factors may also come into play. Men are often under intense pressure to perform and meet expectations, which can lead to anxiety and self-doubt on the court. This pressure can make it difficult to focus on the mechanics of shooting, leading to missed shots. “A lot of times people don’t realize how much pressure there is on the free-throw line,” Barry explained. “Your heart’s pounding, you’re nervous, you’re trying to win the game.”

The Psychological and Social Factors

One example of a player who successfully adopted the underhand technique is Chinanu Onuaku. Onuaku, a former NBA player, struggled with free throw shooting during his college career. However, after working with Barry to adopt the underhand technique, Onuaku’s free throw percentage improved from 46.7% to 58.9%. “It’s something I feel comfortable with,” Onuaku said. “I’m just trying to make as many free throws as possible and help my team win.”

In conclusion, mens’ struggles with free throw shooting may be due to a combination of factors, including social stigma, over-reliance on physical prowess, and psychological pressure. However, by studying the technique of successful free throw shooters like Rick Barry, players can learn to improve their performance on the court. Whether it’s adopting the underhand technique or simply focusing on precision and consistency, there are many ways for men to become better free throw shooters and ultimately contribute to their team’s success. As Barry put it, “Why wouldn’t you want to use a technique that works?”

Sportsbook Hank
Author Sportsbook Hank