I am posting this thread with the aim of helping future service academy candidates who might be having trouble with the basketball throw event on the Candidate Fitness Assessment. As you prepare for the CFA, be sure to follow the CFA instructions TO THE LETTER because you don’t want your basketball throw to be disqualified for, say, not having the proper parallel knee placement. Also, the CFA instructions are clear that you have to use the heavier, MEN’s basketball (even if you are a female candidate). More important, note that the photos in the CFA instructions do not show the best technique to successfully pass this event – the USMA CFA instructions depict an image of a candidate throwing the ball much like a shot-put contestant (with the ball touching the right cheek of the candidate) and depict a female candidate with the ball in the same plane as her head with the elbow pointing straight down (a position from which you will obtain ZERO leverage from your torso). The USAFA CFA instruction photo is even worse, with the ball appearing to rest on TOP of the candidate’s head! The side-angle-view in the USNA CFA instruction photo is the best, although it doesn’t show the candidate leaning back at all, which as described below, is really important in obtaining maximum throwing distance in this event. Remember, if you do not pass the basketball throw event, you will fail the entire CFA!! My DS initially had trouble with the basketball throw event and found very little on this website or elsewhere on how to help improve his throwing distance. The one source that was very helpful was the CFA video that can be purchased at www.stewsmith.com (I am not affiliated with this website in any way, other than being a satisfied customer). The CFA video is available for purchase at http://store.stewsmithptclub.com/phfiteclondv.html, there are some really helpful tips for passing each of the CFA-related events. There is also a workout schedule that you can purchase specifically designed to help with each of the CFA events (this is available at http://store.stewsmithptclub.com/miofphfipr.html). GENERAL OBSERVATIONS The basketball throw event appears to be more of a test of athletic ability than shear arm strength. In the words of the CFA instructions, “The basketball throw measures ability to generate shoulder girdle power and total body coordination and balance from a stationary position.” When you dig into the details of the basketball throw, there seem to be at least five components in play: (1) knee placement, (2) left-arm movement, (3) body torso movement, (4) right-arm movement, and (5) basketball release. The real trick is not ONLY to master each component, but also to get each component moving seamlessly in concert with the other. To do this, you need to build muscle memory, and the only way to do that is PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. I would think that soccer goalies and javelin throwers would have the easiest time with the basketball throw event, because they have already mastered the combination of these various components to maximize their throwing distance. Baseball, football, or even BASKETBALL players, on the other hand, might have a more difficult time because they have learned to throw a ball differently over the years. And throwing a basketball for the CFA is NOT like throwing a baseball or a football (or even a basketball in a real basketball game). If you try to throw the basketball like a baseball or football, it won’t go as far as it potentially can. Also, note that all of your movements have to be EXPLOSIVE. Some of the posters on this board have suggested that screaming during the release of the ball has helped them obtain a higher explosive yield. My DS is not a “screamer,” so he didn’t really do that. But make no mistake that this is NOT a delicate free-throw shot where you are simply trying to get the basketball to land in the basket! It is all about explosive force applied to a basketball in less than a second to make the ball travel the maximum distance possible. The other thing to point out is that physics really plays an important role in this event. Your body not only has to take advantage of its muscle and strength, but it also has to use your body frame/skeleton in a way to serve as a fulcrum as the ball is transitioning from one state to another. You should definitely experiment with a variety of techniques and go with whatever works for you. Here’s what worked for my DS. (Note: Everything that follows is written from the perspective of a right-handed thrower; if you are left-handed, simply reverse everything concerning right and left arm movements). KNEE PLACEMENT This is pretty straight forward. You have to spread your knees apart to provide a stable base for everything else you are doing with the rest of your body. You should position your knees a comfortable distance apart. If you use a 1-inch mat to cushion your knees, which is permitted, be sure to have the mat under your feet as well because if your knees are higher in relation to your feet, it will be more difficult to bend your torso backward as far as possible. Or you can simply tough it out and don’t use a mat at all. LEFT ARM MOVEMENT In this event, put your left arm to work (don’t let it just dangle on your side)! The left arm helps to rotate your body radially as well as forward. Place your left hand (my DS made a fist) over your right clavicle and, in a violent jerking motion, move your left elbow down and to the left to twist your body to the left and to bring your upper torso forward. At first, my DS just used his left elbow to twist his body to the left (with his elbow moving horizontally in relation to the ground). But then he figured out that he could gain a few more feet by jerking the left elbow slightly downward as well, so that the left elbow was not only helping twist his torso to the left but was also helping move the upper torso forward. BODY TORSO MOVEMENT You must also utilize your torso to master this event – it is NOT simply about arm and shoulder strength. Exercises should be incorporated in your workout routine that are specifically aimed at strengthening your abdominal muscles as well as your lower back muscles (these muscles, surprisingly, will also help enormously with pull-ups). As you arc your body backward, you have to bend back as far as possible – WAY BACK – to provide as much forward movement as possible (it is sort of like an airport runway – the longer the runway, the bigger the plane that can take off on it). As you bring your torso forward, you have to simultaneously twist your torso to the left so that your right shoulder is not only moving forward but also gaining additional speed because you are twisting your body to the left. The other thing that has apparently worked for many, including my DS, is to twist your torso from left to right a few times before you throw. This helps build up “rotational energy” that can be released when you actually throw the basketball. Here is an important point: My DS improved his distance by no less than 15 feet by simply delaying bringing his right arm forward a split fraction of a second so that his torso was 2/3 of the way twisted to the left and was 2/3 of the way forward before setting the right arm in motion (the final 1/3 happens in both the forward and radial motion when the right arm is actually set into motion). This is a motion that javelin throwers and soccer goalies understand well. Do a search on YouTube for tips designed to help javelin and shot-put throwers and soccer goalies improve their distance. Also check out the video below related to “trebuchet catapulting” action. RIGHT ARM MOVEMENT First off, the basketball should rest on your wrist and NOT your right palm. Use the fingers of your right throwing arm to balance the ball on your right wrist. If it rests on your palm, then there is a higher likelihood that (1) you won’t be able to bend back as far without having the ball fall out of your hand, and (2) as you release the ball, your palm and fingertips will cause the ball to spin, thereby transferring some of the forward energy that makes the ball go farther to a spinning action which adds nothing to the distance of your throw – even this simple tip can add seven inches to your throw, which can mean the difference between passing or failing the basketball event (distance is recorded to the nearest FOOT, not inch). Also, while there is debate about this, my DS figured out that the throwing arm should be fully extended because this will give you the maximum arc possible as you bring the ball forward (if you bend your elbow, the ball will actually be closer to your shoulder and thus will have a tighter arc when you ultimately release the ball – physics informs us that if you have a wider arc in relation to your right shoulder, less force is needed to throw the ball farther when ultimately released). Also, you should delay setting your arm in motion until AFTER you have set your torso in motion (i.e., twisting left and moving forward). This will produce a “trebuchet catapulting” action such as that depicted here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfnJ2Zah8Kg The right arm will feel like you are attempting to throw the ball underhanded (sort of like a softball throw, but not quite because you will have your arm extended behind you and you’re facing to the right). As you twist your body to the left, your arm will transition into an overhand throw (it’s just mechanics of how your upper frame rotates). BASKETBALL RELEASE As mentioned above, you should avoid wasting energy by having the ball spin when you release it. For football quarterbacks, the spin serves a useful purpose because it keeps the odd-shaped football from tumbling, thus increasing both the distance and the accuracy of the throw (much like “rifling” action in a rifle or cannon). But a basketball is round, so the rotation adds nothing. The second thing that this really important is that the ball should be released AT A 45 DEGREE ANGLE relative to the ground surface. If you release the ball at a lower angle, gravity will bring the ball into contact with the ground sooner. Similarly, if you exceed the 45 degree angle, while you may obtain greater height, the CFA does not measure height at all and you will obtain a shorter distance than you otherwise could have.