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LeBron Asks: What muscles do we use when shooting a basket?

LeBron James uses several muscles when shooting a free throw. The muscles in his forearm, which sit in the front, flex his fingers and hand. These muscles contract and pull on tendons, directing the hand and fingers. The triceps in the back of his upper arm allow his forearm to straighten out on his elbow, directing the ball towards the basket. Created by Sal Khan and LeBron James.

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Video transcript

[LEBRON JAMES] What muscles do I use when I take a free throw? [SAL KHAN] Excellent question, LeBron. So you can imagine whenever you're doing anything – whenever you stand, or even run – you're using a ton of muscles just to to keep your balance – Just to keep your body rigid. But what we're going to focus on are the muscles that are directly acting on the ball to make the ball go in that direction – to make it accelerate upwards and towards the basket – which you would hopefully do when you are taking a free throw. So, the muscles that are doing that are the ones that help your fingers go in that direction, help the palm of you hand going in that direction, and help your entire forearm to go in that direction. Obviously, at the same time, there are many other muscles at work, even the muscles that keep your entire arm above your head like this – the muscles that keep you standing. But we're going to just focus on these muscles right over here. So first, the muscles that allow your fingers to go in the direction that you want the ball to go, and your palm. And you might be surprised to find that those muscles actually sit in the forearm. most of those muscles actually do not sit in the hand. Those muscles are actually here. So the muscles in the front of your forearm right here, they are actually all about flexing the fingers and the hands in that direction. There are a bunch of names for them. And I encourage folks to look them up. But it is a really interesting thing, because we are often used to muscles being directly where the motion is. But in this case, these muscles, when they're in action, they contract And muscles, when they're in action do contract. So they're going to contract and they are going to pull essentially on tendons. They're going to pull the whole hand to that way. You could view as a kind of pulley So if this was... If you view your wrist joint as kind of pulley. And if you had a rope that is attached to another block. And that block you can view as your hand and your finger So that block is your hand. These muscles right over here, they contract this way so its ..... pulling on this rope. And were to pull on this rope, what would happen to this block up here? Well, this block up here is going to go in that general direction. So that what's keep your hand and your fingers going in that way But what about the entire forearm? So once again. The muscles that get your entire forearm going in that direction aren't in your forearm. They are in the back of your upper arm. So they are right over here. Often referred to as the triceps. The official name are the triceps brachii, but they're right over here and it's called triceps because kind of three-headed muscle. There are three muscle bundles that are going on And when these muscles over here, your triceps, when they contract they allow your entire forearm to essentially straighten out on your elbow so it will go in that direction In this case, when this muscle, the triceps, contract your entire forearm is going to .... on your elbow And go like that, which will allow the basket to go in the intended direction