Freethrow Distractions

It’s Thursday evening, and time for me to produce another Thought for the Weekend, but I have to confess – I’m distracted. My alma mater, Providence College, plays Seton Hall in basketball tonight. With March Madness right around the corner, I can’t help but give the game more attention than my computer screen.

freethrowWhen it comes to any pursuit that requires focus, sometimes finding the motivation to give it your all can be hard. After a long day at work, gathering up your moxie to make it to the gym, practice an instrument, or even perfect your cooking instead of relying on the frozen stuff can be challenging.

I myself struggle with it. Between being Bob at work, Bob the dad, and Bob the husband, I have to dig deep to find the energy to be Bob the musician or even Bob the blogger.

And, let’s face it – in today’s world, the distractions are endless. Whether it’s one’s cell phone, the internet, the kids, or just a great game on the TV, there’s always a reason to not do what you ‘should’ be doing.

Of course, I’m not the only one who as to power through distractions. In the sport of basketball, it is a time-honored tradition for basketball fans to distract shooters during free throws. The New York Times even ran an article about the science behind free throw distractions:

freethrow“According to Daniel Engber, a basketball fan with a master’s degree in neuroscience, the standard “free-throw defenses” are too haphazard to be effective. Fans tend to wave their ThunderStix willy-nilly, creating a unified field of randomly moving objects. Because of the way the human brain perceives motion, free-throw shooters can easily ignore this sort of visual commotion. “Fans might think they’re doing something by crazily waving their ThunderStix,” Engber says, “but to the players it’s all just a sea of visual white noise.” Which is why, Engber surmises, N.B.A. teams’ free-throw percentages at home and on the road are nearly identical.

The key to a successful free-throw defense, Engber argues, is to make a player perceive a “field of background motion” that tricks his brain into thinking that he himself is moving, thereby throwing off his shooting. In other words, fans should wave their ThunderStix in tandem.”

That said, my hat’s off to some of the ingenious stunts that fans try to pull. One that made internet headlines came from high school students who created an elaborate skit mimicking a live birth.

If you’re wishing for a little distraction from whatever you should be working on this Friday morning, you might enjoy this collection of impressive free throw distractions.

Try to stay focused this weekend –