By Taleah Castley
Teacher: Mr Denning
I filmed myself performing a free throw before a four week training programme that focused on improving my throw, it was videoed again afterwards. In this report I have identified the main biomechanical principles that I need to improve in my free throw. The biomechanical principles I have focused on are summation of force and line of force. To improve these principles I needed to bend my legs more, have the ball positioned in the centre of my body and throw using an equal amount of force from each side of my body. Working on these factors would have improved my overall free throw performance. My second throw improved immensely, although a firmer and wider base of support is needed to create a smoother movement.
The free throw is an important part of basketball, and if mastered correctly can improve your team’s performance in a game. The focus of a free throw is to get the ball in the hoop as smoothly as possible. I have been filmed before and after 4 weeks of free throw drills to improve my throw. There were many things biomechanically wrong with my first throw such as summation of force and line of force; further development of these skills will lead to a more successful free throw. My second throw had improved greatly, although could still improve with more training.
First Biomechanical Principle – Summation of Force
When attempting to shoot the ball into the hoop, the ball often falls short of the hoop; a result of a lack of force. This is undesirable as the aim of a free throw is to be able to get the ball into the hoop and lack of force prevents that. The biomechanical principle that can be applied to improve this error is summation of force. PE Studies Revision Seminars define summation of force as ‘Body parts [that] move in a sequence to generate the largest force or acceleration possible.’ It can be seen in the video that when I threw the ball I primarily used my hips, shoulders, elbow and wrist to apply force to the ball. According to website coachs.org, to gain the correct summation of force ‘movement should begin with the big muscle groups and move out through the progressively smaller muscles, from big to small. This pattern produces optimal forces and flowing, continuous movement.’ As shown in the diagram below, my front leg (big muscle) was only slightly bent, leaving the smaller muscles of my upper body to generate the large amount of force required to reach the hoop. This indicates that I am not using my muscles in the appropriate sequence and my throw suffers because of it. My knees not being bent would’ve had a huge impact on my accuracy as my arms were being used primarily for force; not for accuracy. Steve Bradley explains ‘The shooting motion of the good shooter displayed… a smoother extension of the joints through release.’ For my free throw to be smoother it is essential for my body parts to move in a progressive motion beginning with force from my legs.
(Refer to Appendix #1)
Second Biomechanical Principle – Line of Force
The ideal way to free throw accurately is to produce force into the direction you want the ball to travel in. From watching my free throw video I have found that most of the time when I would throw, the ball would often land wide left of the hoop. It was shown that I strongly favoured the right side of my body when throwing. The biomechanical principle that applies to this is error is line of force. Newton’s Second law states that ‘Any changing motion is directly proportional to the applied force and is made in the line of the force.’ This law implies that the ball will travel in whichever direction that force is applied and I was not applying my force directly towards the hoop. I would lift the ball to the right side of my head and twist my hips and shoulders to the left. This applied force in a line directed wide left of the hoop, my wrist would then attempt to correct this and push