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SMU biomechanics experts team with Mark Cuban
to research phony falls in basketball

Study will investigate the possibility of estimating “flopping” forces from video data

June 12, 2013

Biomechanics experts at Southern Methodist University have teamed with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban to carry out a scientific study of the unsavory practice of player flopping in basketball and other sports.

Flopping is a player’s deliberate act of falling, or recoiling unnecessarily from a nearby opponent, to deceive game officials. Athletes engage in dramatic flopping to create the illusion of illegal contact, hoping to bait officials into calling undeserved fouls on opponents.

The phenomenon is considered a widespread problem in professional basketball and soccer. To discourage the practice, the National Basketball Association in 2012 began a system of escalating fines against NBA players suspected of flopping, including during the playoffs, “NBA announces anti-flopping rules for playoffs.”

The Cuban-owned company Radical Hoops Ltd. awarded a grant of more than $100,000 to fund the 18-month research study at SMU, Dallas.

Peter Weyand
Peter G. Weyand

“The issues of collisional forces, balance and control in these types of athletic settings are largely uninvestigated,” said SMU biomechanics expert Peter G. Weyand, who leads the research team. “There has been a lot of research into balance and falls in the elderly, but relatively little on active adults and athletes.”

The objective of the research is to investigate the forces involved in typical basketball collisions, said Weyand, an associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics in the SMU Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

Other members of the SMU research team include: research engineer and physicist Laurence Ryan; Kenneth Clark, doctoral student in the SMU Locomotor Performance Laboratory; and mechanical engineer Geoffrey Brown.

Read the full story on the SMU Research Blog.