The Brick - A Noisy Clunker of a Shot

Tips to Avoid this Embarrassing Miss

Other than an airball, there's probably nothing worse in basketball than shooting a brick, a noisily missed shot. A successful jump shot requires a fair amount of finesse. Shots taken too forcefully, at too shallow of an angle or without any backspin tend to hit the rim or backboard like a bird crashing into an upper-story window.

As with the bird, the results aren't pretty. A brick can hit the backboard or rim; either way, it's an embarrassing miss. Bricks can cause some damage -- even in backyard games -- as this clunker shot demonstrates.

Meaning of the 'Brick'

"Brick" as a metaphor for errant and ugly jump shot is so ingrained in the basketball lexicon, you'll often hear variations on the theme. A poor shooter might be referred to as a bricklayer or a mason, and a player on a streak of bad shooting might be "throwing up enough bricks to build a house." Wikipedia simply refers to a brick as a ball that "bounces off the rim." 

But, the missed shot is so much more than that. Dictionary.com, for example, is harsher in its definition, explaining that to shoot bricks means, "To throw the ball ineptly," providing this example of how to use the term in a sentence: "Especially the free throws. I mean, we were shooting some bricks out there tonight."

How to Avoid Shooting a Brick

The website EBTX, which takes a mathematical look at the graceless art of shooting a brick (as well as other matters of the universe), explains how to avoid shooting this embarrassing shot. "When you are throwing up bricks it is most likely that the ball is not being properly lofted by the left hand and your right is forcing the shot. To correct this, look at how the ball goes up your chest," the website says. "Then the right hand takes over. If your left hand is not helping enough the ball will move away from your chest too soon, (it will start moving away from your body down by your belly instead)."

The website has a terrific mathematical diagram showing the arc of a brick vs. a well-made shot and even explains why -- in physiological terms -- you might shoot a brick:  "A common cause is fatigue. And as the ball moves away from the body it seems to become heavier yet because of the additional leveraged force of gravity."

Brick Fun Facts

  • Former President Barack Obama, who loves to play basketball, once was filmed shooting a brick -- 22 of them actually.
  • The Idaho National Laboratory once filmed a brick in slow motion.
  • Von Miller is an NFL MVP -- having helped the Denver Broncos win a Superbowl in 2016 -- but it's probably best that he stick to football as this his brick-laying skills show.