Basketball is usually a very dynamic sport.
But there comes a point in every game
when everything comes to a standstill:
Right here, at the foul line, for a free throw.
此时 球员在罚球线上 准备罚球
It’s not a terribly difficult shot,
there’s nobody guarding you,
you’ve got 10 seconds to aim and shoot.
The very best have career averages of around 90%,
that’s over the course of thousands of efficient games.
But could that number go up?
Today, we’re gonna look at why averaging 95 percent
from the foul line is almost impossible.
To find out what it takes,
I shot with one of the most consistent free-throw shooters of all time.
– Nice, there it is. – Here we go.
– 好球 – 开始吧
Talk shot science with a dynamicist.
When you run these kinds of simulations you notice that
that there’s an optimum angle which is actually the least effort angle.
And spoke with a cognitive scientist
about why even the best choke under pressure.
You can perform more poorly than expected,
precisely because people are watching you
or there’s something on the line.
The free-throw has been the same for decades.
It’s 15 feet from the line to the basket
which is a standard 10 feet off the ground.
The average free-throw percentage for the NBA
WNBA and NCAA hovers around 70%,
but there are those players who can sync it time after time,
barely ever missing.
The very best have career averages of around 90%.
This player, is one of them.
So we’re here with Steve Nash.
Steve is obviously a very talented basketball player,
I am not, right?
You’ve shot a ball a few times?
I did it for a long time.
Over the course of his career,
Nash toed the foul line 3384 times,
and sink the ball 3060 of those times.
His career record is the highest of any retired pro
at ninety point four three percents.
He’s gonna help us work on our free-throw technique,
and see if we can’t get a little better.
And also talk with us about what we think the, uh,
upper limit to free-throw accuracy might be.
And I’m gonna kick his ass.
Kicking my ass was not going to be difficult.
I’d barely touched the basketball in 20 years,
and I was rusty at the line.
Nash gave me some pointers on
how to shoot with my whole body.
Okay, let’s try a few where you slow down a little bit,
好 我们来试一下 动作稍慢一点
you start at the bottom,
you come up and shoot it all in one motion.
So your body comes up with the ball
and the ball releases before or at
the end of that motion.
Nash told me his technique for better shooting.
You know, I try to take all the extra movements out of it right.
Just shu, one smooth, one motion.
Yeah? There’s no strain, there’s no forcing,
there’s no flicking at the rim.
It’s a really smooth stroke.
That makes sense? Yeah?
So this gonna sound like a dumb question,
but why, why can’t people get free throws all the time?
For exactly the reasons that uh,
you know the best free-throw shooters make them.
You know, they probably don’t have the great, have the best technique.
They probably don’t take the most pride in it,
or practice it as diligently as they should.
Um, and I think and then lastly some people emotionally,
还有最后一个原因 我觉得 有些球员被情绪影响了
especially if you haven’t done the work,
it’s gonna affect your technique more, right?
One of the reasons Nash was so successful,
was that he did the work.
And he took pride in the shot and he practiced a lot.
When I was younger, I would shoot a lot of them.
When I got older, I was just refining.
Sometimes it would be like ten before practice, ten after practice,
ten before the game, you know or maybe just a couple and
just to refine it, get in that moment.
Reproducibility is key.
To demonstrate why,
Nash and I each shot a series of free-throws.
You can see here, Nash had no problem sinking ball,
after ball, after ball.
I, on the other hand, was throwing up bricks, lots of them.
Nash has given me great pointers
on how to perfect my technique,
but I wanted to know if the free throw could
be scienced into submission.
Thanks for joining us.
So I called up Larry Silverburg.
I’m a professor here at NC State.
I’m a dynamicists that means I study motion.
And I spend a lot of my time,
probably more time than I really should,
studying the motion of basketball.
Silverberg has written a number of papers
on the physics of the free throw.
To him, it’s an elegant problem.
It’s a beautiful experiment but you’re not moving,
you can just walk up to the line.
It’s the same for every single player,
so you can actually look at the shot very scientific.
What he’s found is that players like Nash
incorporate four key parameters into their free throw.
First and foremost, is the initial velocity of the ball.
The second thing is you have to line up the ball ,
that ball’s got to go directly toward the center of the hoop.
That second factor is called side angle.
You want to keep it as small as possible
to make the ball go straight.
The third parameter is a bit of backspin.
The backspin is very important.
It makes the ball land on the basket a little bit softer and
at more of a chance of the ball, of the ball going in.
And then there’s the ball’s arc,
which depends on your release angle.
But when you run these kinds of simulations,
you notice that there’s an optimum angle,
which is actually the least effort angle.
That tends to be a release angle of about, uh, depending on your height
of anywhere between 45, 46 and 53 degrees.
So, not many players could tell you what their release angle is
but that maybe changing.
Well, Nash and I shot.
We use an app he’s helped develop, called Homecourt,
which uses an artificial intelligence
to track and analyze basketball shots.
The app just released a new feature that measures
not only your makes and misses of the line,
but other metrics like release angle.
Our app is called Homecourt AI.
It’s a piece of technology artificial intelligence
that can track not only your body movement
but also the flight of your ball, makes, misses, arc,
还能追踪球的轨迹 投中 未投中 弧度
release time, angle all those things.
So, you were nine of thirty, just thirty percent.
所以 你投30中9 命中率就是30%
Your best streak was two in a row.
It’s really hard to be a great free-throw shooter,
we got to get you three four five,
get some momentum, some confidence.
How did Nash do?
Accuracy a hundred percent, thirty four to thirty four,
uh, best streak was 34.
Your release angle range is only four degrees,
so that means that the biggest difference
you ever saw in your release angle was just four degrees.
And mine was twenty.
Yeah, so, I mean that tells a lot, right?
是的 所以我说它能告诉我们很多 对吧？
I mean, obviously, so, this is, I mean, this is such a great tool.
Makes and misses are only one part of the equation like but
if I can see like the variance in your release angle, is like wild.
Here we have a problem, if I can see that it’s tightening up
but you’re not necessarily getting better.
I still feel positive like there’s a breakthrough coming.
Now before Nash had arrived,
I had actually shot just over 50%.
But shooting with one of the world’s greatest point guards,
is a little intimidating.
As soon as he showed up, my percentage dropped by 20%.
I talk about it as paralysis by analysis,
you start paying too much to the details of what you’re doing,
in a way that’s counterproductive.
That’s Seon Bylocke.
I’m a cognitive scientist and
and I’m president of Barnard College at Columbia University,
and I am an expert in why we choke under pressure and
and what to do about it.
以及 我们该怎么做 这方面的专家
Pressure can affect the pros too.
Nash took well over a hundred free throws with us,
he said that was more than he’d taken since he retired in 2015,
and of all those shots, he missed two.
It’s been a while for me to but…
That’s greater than 98 percent accuracy.
And yet, over the course of his career,
he averaged closer to 90 percent.
And that’s because performing in a game,
is way different from performing in practice.
What we often forget is that
it’s important to close this gap between training and competition.
And what I mean by that is practicing under the kinds of conditions
you’re gonna perform under.
I think we’ve all had the experience where
we can hit that shot when no one’s watching
or 50% of our free throws when no one’s there.
Um, but when all eyes are on us, we fumble
and so the idea is to get used to how we’re gonna feel,
how our body is gonna react in that moment.
If we’re gonna have important people come to the event,
like our parents watching us play basketball,
make sure that they’re there during practice at some point too.
So we’re not all of a sudden
entering a new situation when it matters most.
The free throw, if you’ve done all your homework
and you have the right technique,
it becomes an ability to believe and
to cut out all the distractions
and put yourself back on the practice court
in the heart of a big moment.
To make the most of his shot, Nash was always practicing,
even during games.
Before the referee gave me the ball,
I would take two if I could practice shots without the ball.
– That’s like a rehearsal. – Yeah.
– 听起来像是预演 – 是的
Right, so that I just got to practice shots in before I shot the ball, right?
You know, I think sports psychologists say now
that even better than visualization is actual physical recreation,
you know, even without the ball.
Clearly I needed to practice,
so I took HomeCourt with me to my local court
and shot and shot and shot.
Could I improve?
Could an amateur like me ever achieve NBA level accuracy?
Well, this guy has.
All it takes to become good it was three things:
knowledge, practice and time.
This is Bob Fisher.
I’m like a million guy. I played high school basketball,
I played recreationally to just 44 and quit because,
young guys like you just got to quit.
Except at about ten years ago,
Fisher really started practicing free throws.
And in September of 09, I went to the gym
and started going the gym every day,
after a month I noticed I was getting considerably better.
And then I started making a hundred every day in a row.
And then I switched over to speed
and January , four months later January 10th, I set my first record.
到了1月 即四个月后的1月10日 我创造了我的第一个纪录
Most in a minute.
Today he has 25 Guinness World Records.
Most in 30 seconds with 33, most in a minute with 52,
most in two minutes with 92, most in 10 minutes with 148.
You get the idea.
Fisher, a longtime coach has also written the book
and made an instructional video on how to shoot more accurately.
If you focus on the high point of the ball
and apply force control the high point of the ball
and the relationship to the center of the basket.
It’s gonna go straight.
Fisher is no NBA legend,
but his free-throw percentage,
I made 99 out of a hundred.
So, if a guy like Fisher can sink the ball 99% of the time,
I should be able to put it in the basket a little more often right?
Now might be a good time to mention that
there’s another way to shoot from the line and that’s:
One of the best practitioners of this technique was Rick Barry.
Over the course of his career,
he averaged eighty nine point three one percent from the line.
Rick Berry is obviously one of our all time great players
and was unbelievable from the foul line, underhand.
He swears, um, that it’s wiser to shoot in underhand.
Let’s just say it has its trade-offs.
What happens in the underhand shot is,
the body motion is very, very smooth.
It’s inherently smooth, there’s just a single motion
from the… from down low all the way up high
that can be committed to memory I think,
pretty easily so it’s easy to perfect.
On the other hand,
you do have a disadvantage because you’re releasing the ball low.
So you have this trade-off between
releasing the ball low and having smooth body motion.
The smooth body motion means that
you can become much more consistent at it.
I think there’s something about
the ball starting down here and ending up there.
That feels more awkward than finishing above your head,but
I could see how it would limit some of the,
kind of extraneous and unnecessary movements
that creep in from time to time.
I’m gonna stick with the overhand.
In a week of shooting with Homecourt, tracking and analyzing my shots
I managed to increase my free-throw percentage
from around 30 percent to 75 percent.
And my release angle went from varying by more than 20 degrees
to varying by less than 8.
So I got better,
but what about the pros?
With better practice and preparation,
could the pros edge the record even higher?
It turns out Steph Curry recently surpassed Nash’s record,
but only by a couple hundreds of a percent.
The NBA in particular, it’s an incredible demand.
You’re traveling, changing time zones, playing,
you know, three and a half, three games a week.
You know, you may be carrying an injury.
So, to corral all these factors
it’s why we don’t see someone shooting high 90s or a hundred percent.
Now, is there gonna be some outlier that comes along?
Why not? I mean, it’s actually remarkable to me that
Steph isn’t more of an outlier.
The real outlier is Elena Delle Donne,
真正的例外是Elena Delle Donne
who plays for the WNBA’s Washington Mystics.
Her career free-throw percentage
is a monstrous ninety three point four percent.
But remember, neither she nor Curry has retired yet.
So those records aren’t set in stone.
You know, so many games are decided the free-throw line today.
It’s very possible that
as we become more sophisticated, more technological,
that a shift could take place where some coaches
might start to actually pay attention to the free-throw.
But until that happens,
remember that what players like Nash do with the line,
time after time after time,
is already almost impossible.
Basketball is usually a very dynamic sport.