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Case Study
  • Sports/Recreation
  • Open Access

Continuous Improvement on the Free-Throw Line

Quality Progress
October 1997
Volume 30 Issue 10
pp. 78-80
Clark, Timothy; Clark, Andrew
Department of Defense, Indianapolis, IN, Cathedral High School, Indianapolis, IN


The plan-do-study-act cycle contributed to continuous improvement of basketball free-throw shooting, as did problem solving and decision making. Problem identification occurred when the author observed his son's free-throw success rate to be only 45% to 50%. A practice round of 50 shots with 42% success confirmed the observations, and a run chart of the shots indicated that the shooting process was stable. A cause-and-effect diagram of the process suggested that causes for the low success rate were inconsistent positioning and focusing at the free-throw line. An alternative process was developed to improve the son's composure at the line. The action plan was to try the new process in another practice round of 50 shots. Implementation produced an average of 57%, which increased over the next couple of years to 71%. A control chart plot of almost two years of free throws revealed variation caused by temporary changes in the son's new shooting technique. But these changes were reversed, and his high success rate returned. Overall results of the improvement initiative included not only better free-throw shooting but also increased confidence and the profound knowledge of when change is needed.

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