The Perfect Free Throw
Every time you go out to practice basketball, you should work on your free throws. A game could be won or lost based on your free throws and since free throws are always the same distance, and at the same spot, you really just need to develop a habit of shooting them the same way, every single time.
That’s all free throw shooting is – a habit.
There are 7 steps to follow when taking a free throw. Practice this routine, and do it the same way every time you get to the free throw line.
1. Dry your hands and fingers. Before stepping up to the free-throw line, dry your hands on your shorts and shake the arms, wrists, and fingers to relieve any tension.
2. Look to both sides and behind. Before taking the ball from the official, look all around to check the opponent’s offensive positioning and teammate’s location.
3. Receive the ball from the official. Always accept the ball before taking position at the free-throw line.
4. Take the exact same position each time. Once he hands you the ball, move up to the line and set your feet in the exact same position you always use for free throws. I recommend finding the nail hole (it’s the exact center of the free throw line), and place your shooting foot (same side as your shooting hand) slightly forward with the other foot, shoulder width apart and slightly behind the other.
5. Do your routine. This is the real key. Every good free throw shooter has a routine, so find one that works for you. Dribbling the ball 2-3 times, placing it comfortably in your hands, and taking a deep breath is all I ever did. Whatever you do, it needs to be simple and mindless. The purpose of this is to simply get your mind clear, and it’s a way to eliminate all distractions (ie. crowd, score, time left on the clock, etc). This should also give you a few seconds to catch your breath, after running up and down the court.
6. Find your target. Find one of the loops that the net is going through, and focus on that spot. Your objective is to shoot the ball so that it barely goes past that target.
7. Shoot the ball high and soft with gently backspin. As you shoot, you should either rise up on your toes, or perhaps even have a slight jump. There should be a slight thrust of the legs and a synchronized extension of the shooting arm, with hand and fingers flexing downward smoothly at the wrist, while putting a nice, soft backspin on the ball. Hold the follow-through until the ball goes through the hoop, and keep your eye on the target the entire time.
If you follow these 7 steps and continue to practice your free throws every day, you will increase your free throw percentage…. guaranteed. When your practicing, make sure and shoot them at different times during your practice, particularly when you’re tired and fatigues, because that is more game-like.
Just remember to always use perfect form, stay on balance as your rise to your toes, keep the ball at a 60º arch, and use a soft backspin. If work hard and practice often, you will see the results, it’s as simple as that. Note: to be considered “good,” most coaches want you to make at least 80% of your free throws. However, I would prefer you make over 90%.