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Shooting - The Free Throw

It's important to make free throws a big part of your game. Unfortunately, many players don't invest enough time in this area of their game even though many games are decided by either making or missing a free throw or two. The free throw is actually pretty unique when it comes to shooting as it's the one shot that puts you all alone with no one contesting your shot. Sounds easy, but it is the pressure and focus that gets to most players.

Great free throw shooters have perfected great form. They got this way by practicing over and over. It's all about technique, form and consistency. Focus on shooting correctly and repeat that over and over again. It takes regular practice sessions of shooting hundreds of free throws to become a great foul shooter.

Develop a Routine
My routine is simple. I get the ball, dribble it three times, place it in my shooting hand palm up and roll my wrist into my shot pocket, feel my elbow in. It all takes about 6 seconds. That is my routine and I like it, it works for me but it not for everyone. Develop your own routine and repeat it over and over. Perform your routine so that you naturally feel like you are in a rhythm when you step up to the line.

Follow Key Fundaments
For me I have a couple fundamentals of shooting that I've talked about in previous articles that I think about on during my routine.

1. The Feet - Start with proper foot placement with your shooting side foot a little further in front of your non-shooting side foot. Line your shooting side foot up with the nail that is nailed into the center of every free throw line in every gym. If you are shooting outside, try to guess where the center of the foul line is. This guarantees you are straight out from the rim. Though there are exceptions to the rule, most great free-throw shooters follow this line of thinking.

2. The Focus - Focus on your spot on the basket. I use the front of the rim as my guide and I keep my eye on it. The same focal point as I use with my jump shot. Concentrate and don't watch the ball as you release it. Just focus on where you want the ball to go.

3. The Elbow - Make sure that your elbow is in. If I'm lined up center to the basket and my elbow is in and straight when I release then the ball will travel in a straight line.

4. The Release - My fourth key is making sure my release comes off the proper fingers. As with shooting any shot when the ball comes off the wrong finger it is sent in the wrong direction. I like to release the ball mostly off my pointing finger and maybe a little from middle finger. Ring and little finger are out of the question. I focus on my pointing finger.

Stand at the foul line and shoot hundreds of foul shots a day, but do them properly. This will improve your foul shooting because of the repetition and hard work you are putting in. Please understand that you must be practicing the correct fundamentals of shooting and always do your routine. If you practice the wrong fundamentals, then you will not improve. You are just practicing the wrong way to shoot.

Additional things you can do to simulate a game like free throw is shoot 10 shots anywhere on the floor at game speed then shoot your free throws, Or sprint down and back to get to get the feel for taking free throws in a game situation when you are tired. Fatigue and nerves are two things that can hamper you free throw, so put yourself in the game setting when shooting.

To this very day I still think and practice these steps every time I step up and shoot a free throw. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. If you practice it enough, you will become a great free-throw shooter.

Nothing worse than missing a free throw down the stretch that could of won you the game. Be a winner by practicing proper free throw shooting.

Good luck with your shot,

Coach O


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