“FYI: For Your Information,” New Era, Jan. 1971, 46
Since 1891, when Massachusetts’ Jim Naismith invented the game of basketball, the sport has become increasingly popular worldwide. It has also become increasingly more scientific, as the best minds in professional and collegiate basketball circles do their best to analyze the game in order to beat their competitors.
We Latter-day Saints have long enjoyed the sport and won our share of basketball fame. The MIA operates what is often called the world’s biggest basketball program.
And two of the Church’s colleges—Brigham Young University and Ricks College—often place high in United States basketball rankings, with BYU winning the National Invitational Tournament in New York City twice, in 1951 and 1969.
Latter-day Saints are also making important contributions to the science of the game. Featured below are some interesting facts discovered by eight young men as they researched for their college master’s degrees. Here’s hoping your game improves.
Shooting short shots: Banking vs. Straight In
During the course of any basketball game, dozens of short shots are shot—and missed. This raises the question: What is the best method for shooting short shots? Rex Lilly of the Toquerville (Utah) Ward knows the answer.
Twelve junior varsity and twelve varsity high school players made 4,800 carefully documented shots from specific locations on the basketball court—all from a 5-foot radius around the basket. The discovery: It’s better to bank your shots. The accompanying sketches show why. From any one of five court positions, more bank shots went in than straight-in shots.
The study also showed that you get a higher percentage of your shots from the side angles—the 20- to 55-degree areas.
Mean scores of Both Junior Varsity and Varsity Scores of 20 Possible Straight-in and Bank Shots
(20 baskets possible)
In other words, out of every 20 short shots, you should be able to get up to two more baskets if you bank shoot. Caution: This was not a study of 10, 15, 20, or 25-foot shots, but of 5-foot short shots.
About 50 percent of all basketball shots are missed—and that calls for a lot of rebounding. Often, the better rebounding team wins. The question of how to rebound was studied by David L. Evans of the San Jose (California) 12th Ward. After sending six high school and six college men through specially designed rebounding sequences, and after documenting the results from playing a total of 1,800 rebounds from 20-foot shots, Dave has a partial answer.
Players who play with their weight on the balls of their feet and toes have much greater advantage in keeping their relative positions with the offensive players and in getting the rebounds than do players who play with their weight on their heels.
It also became clear that the ball-and-toe players are generally able to play basketball more aggressively. Aggressiveness is a big part of rebounding skill.
It may surprise you, but it does make a difference what kind of warm-up you use. Jerry Bartak of BYU tested three types of warm-ups on the accuracy of the 15-foot one-hand jump shot.
The three warm-up methods: (1) related warm-up—an exercise similar to the act itself, such as simply shooting balls at the basket; (2) unrelated warm-up—four minutes of jumping jacks, touching toes, running in place, etc; (3) warm-up—any exercise to increase muscle flexibility and blood flow to muscles, and to stimulate muscles for activity. After 25,860 shots taken over an eight-week test period by 64 above-average, average, and below-average shooters applying the different warm-up methods, Jerry discovered that players using the related warm-up method could make 4 to 5 percent more shots. (Incidentally, above-average shooters were those who made 68 or more shots out of 100 15-foot jump shots; average—53 to 67 shots; below average—52 or less.)
Free Throws—and Fatigue
Nearly all close basketball games are won or lost at the free-throw line, especially in the last minutes of the game, when players are fatigued.
Ron Allen of Havre Branch, Montana-Wyoming Mission, tested the question: is the one-hand set shot or the two-hand underhand shot a more accurate method of free-throw shooting under conditions of fatigue?
After twenty-four young men went through complicated shooting and testing procedures under “unfatigued,” “moderately fatigued,” and nearly “totally fatigued” conditions, Ron found that there was no significant difference between the accuracy of the one-hand set shot and the two-hand underhand method of free throw under fatigued conditions.
He also learned that the two-hand underhand method of free throw was more accurate for players who lacked experience or ability. The study showed that fatigue does have an effect on accuracy. Of every ten free throws, the mean scores were: 5.5 baskets when unfatigued; 4.9 baskets when moderately fatigued; 4.7 baskets at fatigued level.
Speaking of fatigue, Donald V. McIntosh of Pueblo (Colorado) Ward verified that when you’re fatigued, you make a smaller percentage of all your shots—whether free throws or long shots from 21 feet out—about 3 to 5 percent less accuracy. (Incidentally, the players potted between 35 and 40 percent of their shots from the 21-foot range.)
The Shoe War
It’s not the biggest controversy of our time, but to a basketball player, the present battle between the Converse-type canvas and rubber shoe and the new Adidas-type leather and rubber shoe is very important—and costly, simply because leather shoes cost about twice as much as canvas shoes.
Some advertisers claim one type of shoe enables players to play better. Robert K. Milner of the Portland (Oregon) 12th Ward thought he’d test the footwear to see if it increases or decreases the level of athletic performance. If there were any significant difference, the cost would not matter.
He put thirty young men through complicated agility, speed, and vertical jumping tests, electronically measured. (Shoe durability and comfort were not tested.) The results: Performances by players in both shoe types were exactly the same.
Another footwear battle is waged over which is better—high-top or low-cut basketball shoes. (High-tops lace above the ankle joint, low-cuts lace below the ankle joint.) Douglas T. Beck of Carson Valley (Nevada) Branch sent ten young men through a specially designed course to measure defensive footwork.
Then he analyzed the age, height, weight, and agility test scores of players in both types of footwear. It is in defensive playing that fancy footwork and speed are most important. The results: there was no significant defensive footwork difference between players wearing either high-top or low-cut shoes.
What about Raising the Basket?
How many times have you wondered what would happen if they raised the height of the basket so those tall guys wouldn’t have it so easy? D. Michael Gardner of Kaysville (Utah) Second Ward tested the effect on shooting accuracy of raising the basket height from 10 feet to 11 feet and 12 feet. Twenty-four young men (divided into three groups—Group A, 6′2″ and over; Group B, 5′9″ to 6′2″; and Group C, 5′9″ and under) were tested at all three basket heights with the jump shot, set shot, free throw, and lay-up.
Statistically, there was a difference between basket height and lay-up shooting accuracy—the higher the basket, the poorer the lay-up shooting. But there was no conclusive difference in shooting accuracy between groups in regard to jump shot, free throw, set shot. However, a close look at the results will drive you nuts—and give short guys great courage.
Group A (6′2″ and over)
You’ve often heard about the dangers of early marriage. Here are some facts to back up the claim that the younger the bride’s age at marriage, the higher the divorce rate.
For his master’s degree, Seymour P. Steed of the BYU 5th Ward studied 419 couples who married in 1955—sixteen years ago—long enough to make a study today worthwhile.
He discovered a 50 percent divorce rate among couples who married when the bride was fifteen years old or younger. Brides marrying at sixteen faced a 27.3 percent divorce rate. And on it went, not leveling off until the bride’s age at marriage was twenty-one and over, where there was a divorce rate of 3.6 percent.
The age of the bride appeared to be only part of the answer to long and happy marriages. The facts: 97.2 percent of those married in the temple were still together (only 2.8 percent had divorced).
Where Latter-day Saint couples married outside the temple, the divorce rate climbed to 13.4 percent. And where a Latter-day Saint married outside the Church, the divorce rate almost doubled that of those who married in the Church but not in the temple.
For years, some people have believed the claims of the handwriting diviners, who claim that your personality is written into your handwriting. Some companies have presumed that by analyzing your handwriting, they could determine the job you should or should not have, or see personality traits that would make you a questionable employee.
Even some people with the sense to reject tea leaf readers, palm readers, astrology tables, and fortune-tellers apparently have thought that graphology was a little more respectable.
Richard B. Bird, of the Midvale (Utah) East Ward, thought he’d test the theories for his master’s thesis. He found that graphologists claim:
1. The size of your handwriting is supposed to indicate whether you are an extrovert or an introvert. A person who writes small is supposed to be an introvert and possess habits of studiousness and concentration, and a person who writes large is supposed to be an extrovert and pay less attention to details.
2. The slant of your handwriting is supposed to say how you work with other people. A person with a deep-right slant is not supposed to function adequately without other people, and a person with a deep-left slant is not supposed to function adequately with other people.
Dick brought together 145 college students for two hours of testing. There were 59 right-handed males, 74 right-handed females, and six each of left-handed males and females.
None of the students knew why they were being tested. They were given two psychological tests to measure introversion and extroversion and how well they got along with people; then they wrote responses to pictures shown them.
Dick designed two gauges to test handwriting size and slant and compared the results to the psychological tests.
Wouldn’t you guess it? In Dick’s words, size of handwriting is not significantly related to introversion-extroversion, and slant of handwriting is not significantly related to sociability.
As a matter of fact, the computer had a field day: persons with small handwriting were both extroverts and introverts—and the same for persons with large handwriting.
The theory on handwriting slant turned out to be equally ridiculous, with all shades of sociability fitting people with all sorts of handwriting slants. And so another aged myth bites the dust.
You’ve heard seat belt skeptics say, “Well, So-and-so was in an accident; and if he’d been wearing a seat belt, he’d have been killed.”
But Ted Mebius has another story. He’s the fleet administrator of more than 3,000 cars used in the missions throughout the Church. He says, “Our missionaries drive more than sixty million miles a year. Careful examination of our records does not reveal a single case of an accident where it would have been better if seat belts had not been worn. Not even one!”
Apparently, as with every other girl, today’s Latter-day Saint undergraduate female is heavily influenced in her dress by (1) what her peers wear, and (2) the fashion magazines most girls read.
For her BYU master’s thesis, Ilene Harding surveyed high school girls and freshmen coeds at BYU. Freshmen were selected because they seemed the least likely to be affected by BYU dress standards. A total of 93.24 percent read fashion magazines “with some degree of frequency,” and 58 percent spent at least an hour weekly at it. No matter where she comes from—rural, urban, United States or elsewhere—fashion seems to be every girl’s thing.
In fact, 96 percent of the girls said they often noticed the clothing of their friends. When it comes to buying clothing, 84 percent said they would buy what is “most appropriate, regardless of what anyone else is wearing.” But when it came right down to it, 18 percent of the girls indicated they bought “something seen at school”; 30 percent bought “something seen in a magazine”; and 45 percent bought “what the stores had to offer.”
Magazines and what is available in stores go a long way toward filling most girls’ closets—and a girl can take from her closet only what she has previously purchased. That makes the other side of the story:
Dressing according to Church standards may be limited to some extent by what is available for purchase and what is being featured in fashion magazines. Therefore, lucky is the girl who knows how to sew and can adapt fashions to Church standards!