Sport Rulebook

Breaking the Stigma: Why Underhand Shooting Is Worth Considering in Basketball

Shooting underhand in basketball is an uncommon technique, but it has its merits. Many people shy away from this technique due to the stigma it carries, but it is worth considering as it can significantly improve your shooting accuracy, particularly on free throws.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the underhand shooting form, its advantages and disadvantages, and players who have found success with it.

Underhand Shooting Motion

The underhand shooting motion, also known as the granny shot, is the traditional way of shooting free throws in basketball. This form of shooting consists of a simple upward motion of the arm, with the ball released from underhand.

It is a much more straightforward motion than the traditional one-handed shooting form. The primary benefit of the underhand motion is that it simplifies the shooting form, making it easier to repeat and perfect.

The act of shooting underhanded creates a backspin on the ball, meaning that it will rotate backwards and give a better chance of making it through the rim. Furthermore, the underhand motion has shown to be more accurate than the traditional shooting form.

While many top players stick to the one-handed shot, research shows that the underhand form can lead to a better overall shooting percentage.

Benefits of Shooting Underhanded

The main advantage of shooting underhanded is the increased chance of making shots. Players using the underhand motion achieve backspin on the ball, which stabilizes its flight trajectory and can lead to more scoring opportunities.

On free throws, the underhand form is particularly effective, with several notable players such as Rick Barry, Canyon Barry, and Chinanu Onuaku achieving impressive success rates. By using the underhand motion on free throws, they have been able to maintain a high percentage of accuracy.

Another benefit of using the underhand motion is its simplified motion, which also helps give the shooter better control over their shot. By simplifying the shooting motion, players can focus on form and accuracy, resulting in a higher shooting percentage.

Players Who Have Used It

Rick Barry is the most notable player who regularly shot underhanded during his career. Over his 14 seasons in the NBA, he had a career average of .900 on free throws, making him one of the most accurate free throw shooters in NBA history.

Canyon Barry, Rick’s son, also experimented with the underhand shooting form during his time as a college player. He shot a remarkable .882 from the free-throw line using this form throughout his college basketball career.

Chinanu Onuaku, a former NBA player, turned to the underhand motion to improve his free-throw shooting. He experienced great success using the underhand shooting form, improving his free-throw percentage from .500 to .725.

Why it Is Scarcely Used

Despite its many advantages, the underhand shooting form is scarcely used in modern basketball. The primary reasons for this are social stigma, player image, and reputation.

Using the underhand motion can be an embarrassment to many players due to its old-fashioned connotations. It has been noted that when players use the underhand motion in a game, they are often ridiculed by fans and other players alike.

This social stigma is enough for most players to stick with the traditional one-handed shot. Additionally, using the underhanded motion hurts the reputation of the player as it may be viewed as a sign of weakness, making them a target of other players’ ridicule and intimidation.


In conclusion, while shooting underhanded in basketball may be subjected to stigma, it is a technique worth considering because of its benefits. The simplified motion of the underhand shot, coupled with the increased accuracy, is a proven method of improving your overall shooting percentage.

Players like Rick Barry, Canyon Barry, and Chinanu Onuaku have established that the underhand motion can be incredibly effective when used correctly. However, the social stigma and potential ridicule that come with using the underhand motion deter most players from using it.

Regardless, it is worthwhile for players, particularly non-shooters who struggle with their shooting mechanics, to consider the technique and see if it can improve their overall accuracy. Shedding your preconceptions and experimenting with this technique may positively impact your game.

Shooting Techniques in Basketball

Basketball is a sport that requires agility, speed, and accuracy. Shooting is an essential aspect of the game, as it determines the number of points a team scores.

While there are various shooting techniques, the free-throw shot is one of the most important shots. Therefore, players need to practice and master different shooting techniques to be effective on the court.

Importance of Free Throw Shooting

Making free throws can significantly impact a team’s game. Free throws can account for around 20% of a team’s total score.

Therefore, the free-throw shot is critical, and players need to have an excellent percentage from the foul line to contribute to their team’s success. To be successful when shooting free throws, players must have a consistent shooting form.

They should develop a routine that helps them maintain their composure and avoid distractions when shooting from the foul line. This way, they can make the necessary adjustments and shoot with confidence.

Mastering Various Shooting Techniques

Basketball players must also have mastery over different shooting techniques. They should practice different shooting drills and develop muscle memory to perfect their shooting form.

Players that practice shooting frequently will have an easier time adapting to the different shooting scenarios that arise during a game. Having an arsenal of different shooting techniques adds versatility to a player’s skills, helping them overcome any shooting challenges they encounter.

Players who have mastered different shooting techniques can engage in different scoring strategies, keeping their opponents guessing as to their next move.

Versatility and Adaptability in Shooting Form

The ability to adapt and be versatile in your shooting form is a critical skill for basketball players. As players face different opponents and scenarios, they may need to alter their shooting form to get the best possible outcome.

Players should experiment with different shooting techniques, identify which ones fit their style, and seek guidance from their coach to perfect their form. Coaching plays a crucial role in a player’s shooting development.

It is important to have a coach who understands different shooting techniques and can work with players to develop their skills. Experienced coaches recognize the strengths and weaknesses of their players and can offer suggestions on how to improve their shooting game.

History of Underhand Shooting

The underhand shooting form has been a part of basketball since its inception in the late 1800s. The underhand shot, also known as the granny-style shot, was the primary shooting technique used by players during this period.

Over time, the underhand shot was replaced by the traditional one-handed shot that is more commonly used today.

Origins and Evolution of the Underhand Shot

The underhand shot became popular because of its accuracy and effectiveness. It was the primary technique used to shoot free throws and field goals for many years.

However, with the advent of professional basketball, the one-handed shooting technique became more popular. The one-handed shooting technique allowed for a higher release, thereby making it more challenging for defenders to block a shot.

Over time, players adopted the one-handed shooting technique, and the underhand shot slowly declined in popularity.

Famous Players and Their Success Using the Underhand Shot

Despite its declining popularity, some players continued to use the underhand shooting technique. One of the most notable players to use the underhand shot was Rick Barry.

Barry had a career average of .900 on free throws, making him one of the most successful free-throw shooters in the history of the NBA. Wilt Chamberlain also experimented with the underhand shot and found it to be effective during his college career.

Arsenal great Thierry Henry also utilized the underhand shot but only when taking penalty kicks. Canyon Barry, Rick Barry’s son, has also achieved exceptional success with the underhand free-throw shot, shooting 88.2% from the line during his college career.

Cultural and Social Factors Affecting Underhand Shooting

Despite the successes of some players using the underhand shot, it has not gained wide popularity in the modern game. The underhand form of shooting is associated with a certain stigma, with many players finding it uncool or unorthodox.

This sentiment has been perpetuated in the media and social circles, with players feeling uncomfortable using it due to its perceived feminine connotations. The underhand shot has also been associated with women’s basketball.

Society has long associated the underhand shot with women’s basketball, and this association has caused male players to shy away from using this shooting form. However, some players, like Canyon Barry, have embraced the underhand shot and shown that it can be effective, regardless of gender connotations.

It is vital that players keep an open mind to the underhand shot as it could make a significant contribution to their basketball game.


Shooting is an essential aspect of basketball, and players must master various shooting techniques to contribute effectively to their team. The underhand shooting form is an effective method that has stood the test of time, even though it is not widely used today.

By mastering different shooting techniques and staying adaptable, players can improve their game and become more effective on the court. In conclusion, mastering various shooting techniques, including the underhand form, is important for basketball players.

Players must practice shooting drills and develop muscle memory to perfect their shooting form, which adds versatility and adaptability to their skills. Despite social stigmas, players should keep an open mind to the underhand shooting form, which has proven to be effective.

By having an arsenal of different shooting techniques and being adaptable, players can improve their game and become effective on the court, especially with free throws. FAQs:


Why is the underhand shooting form not widely used?

The underhand shooting form is associated with stigma and its perceived feminine connotations.

2. How can players improve their free-throw percentage?

Players can develop a consistent form, develop muscle memory, and practice regularly to improve their free-throw percentage. 3.

Is it essential to have different shooting techniques?

Yes, mastering different shooting techniques adds versatility to a player’s skills, helping overcome any shooting challenges encountered in a game.

4. Is it essential to have a coach to perfect one’s shooting form?

Having a coach who understands different shooting techniques and can work with players to develop their skills is crucial in perfecting one’s shooting form.


What is the primary benefit of the underhand shot?

The primary benefit of the underhand shot is its simplified motion, making it easier to repeat and perfect, and its accuracy due to the backspin on the ball.

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