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The Need to Know, When Shooting Free Throws


Here are some thoughts on how to go about shooting a high free throw percentage.   What’s been left out, is the fundamentals of a good shot itself (balance, follow through, shooting pocket, arch, etc.).  The tips below are items that should be put in place, on top of a fundamentally strong shooting form.


Eyes on the Prize- When shooting a free throw, find your target before releasing the shot.  Get your eyes on either the front or the back of the rim as part of your routine.  If you can stare at a target before trying to hit it, you would right?  Same concept with free throws.

  • In this video, Lebron shoots off rhythm on his first shot, meaning his eyes aren’t staring at the rim until he begins his shooting motion.  On the second shot he takes, he is staring at his target PRIOR to starting his shooting motion.  He made the correct adjustment.


Find the Nail- Every free throw line in America and likely across the globe, has a nail at the exact middle of the free throw line.  As a part of your free throw routine (whether before or after the referee hands you the ball), find the nail.  It will line you up exactly where you need to be before shooting a free throw.


Same Physical, Same Mental– Every free throw shooter should have a simple but comfortable routine that they do, every single time they shoot.  Examples can include: Two dribbles –> deep breath–> shot, or deep breath–> three dribbles–> a spin of the ball–> shot. Whatever that routine shapes up to be, a good free throw shooter knows that’s only half the battle.  The other half is having a mental routine as well.  You have to think the same thought or thoughts, every single time you shoot.  Both the physical side and the mental side have to work together in conjunction, if a shooter wants to boost their percentage.


Repetition- Nothing is more important when shooting free throws than repetition.  The more you practice your free throws, the more comfortable and confident you can be.  The more you shoot them with the same form, the same thoughts, and the same routine, the stronger your muscle memory becomes and the easier it is to make shot after shot after shot.  Repetition trumps all, just ask Rick Barry, the 3rd best career free throw shooter in the NBA,at a clip of 89.9%, who did all his work at the charity stripe underhanded (watch seconds 10-25.):

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