Larry Silverberg, a dynamicist at North Carolina State University – and an expert in the modeling of physical phenomena – has been studying free throws. For 20 years. And he’s learned that a successful free throw comes down to four factors:
First, and most important, is the speed at which you release the ball. It’s also the most difficult to master.
Second is shooting straight. I know, you’d think that’d be at the top of the list, but apparently not.
Third is release angle. According to Silverberg, the best angle of trajectory falls somewhere between 46 and 54 degrees from the horizon, depending on how tall you are.
Fourth? Backspin. Three backward rotations per second, to be precise.
All of which points to the most important of Silverberg’s findings: If you want to be a Steve Nash-level free-throw shooter, all you’ve got to do is practice.