basketball free throws
Shooting free kicks successfully requires confidence, good mechanics, routine, relaxation, rhythm and concentration. Routine, relaxation and rhythm contribute to concentration and confidence.
Think positively. You always shoot from the same spot on the line. Nobody is guarding you. The basket is big. Three and a half balls fit in the hoop. With confidence, and solid mechanics, you can’t miss it.
Stand a few feet behind the free throw line until the referee hands you the ball. You will be more relaxed there. If you hear negative comments from the crowd or acknowledge your own negative thoughts, interrupt them with the word stop. Take a deep breath and let go of negative thoughts as you exhale. Replace them with a positive affirmation statement like I’m a shooter! Nothing but net! or Tell it!
Develop a solid routine for your free kick. A routine helps you relax, focus and shoot with rhythm. Most importantly, using a routine will improve your confidence. The routine may include dribbling a set number of times, checking a mechanic or two, using imagery to mentally practice your free kick just before you shoot it, and taking deep breaths to relax. Get into a solid routine and stick to it; it’s a mistake to copy fads or repeatedly change your routine.
Here’s a sample routine that you can adjust to suit you. Once you receive the ball, place your feet, making sure to line up the ball (not your head) with the center of the basket. Use the small notch mark on the floor in the exact middle of the free throw line that marks the free throw circle. Place your shooting foot slightly outside of this mark, aligning the ball with the center of the basket.
Most players use the one-handed shot for a free kick and take the time to control each of the basic mechanics: balance, hand position, elbow alignment, sight (focus), pace, and follow-through.
Set in a balanced posture. Some players bounce the ball a certain number of times to help them relax. When you dribble the ball, keep your shooting hand up. This helps you have your shooting hand facing the basket when you set up the high stance to shoot. Use a relaxed hand position and align your index finger with the valve on the ball. Next, check the alignment of your elbow. Some players don’t have the flexibility to have their hand facing the basket and their elbow in. It’s more important to have your shooting hand facing the basket than it is to have your elbow all the way in. If your hand tends to turn to the side when you bring your elbow in, let your elbow hang out a bit.
Learn to relax when you shoot free kicks. You have more time to think with free kicks than with other shots. Overexerting yourself can cause undue physical or emotional stress. Use deep breathing to relax your mind and body. For a free kick, you need to especially relax your shoulders; take a deep breath and let your shoulders drop and release. Do the same with your arms, hands and fingers. Learn to relax other parts of your body. Controlling your breathing and relaxing your muscles is especially helpful in a free throw routine.
Before shooting, visualize a successful shot. Visualizing just before shooting can produce a smoother, more continuous rhythm and increase confidence. Just before shooting, focus on your target just above the front of the rim. Keep your focus on the target while shooting.
Start your shot high and use the up and down movement of your legs to get the rhythm rather than lowering the ball to get the rhythm. The up and down movement of the legs provides momentum for the shot and is particularly useful when shooting late in the game when the legs are tired. By starting with the ball high and using your legs to keep up the pace, you will lessen the chance of error that can come from bringing the ball down.
Shoot the free kick with a smooth and flowing rhythm. Use custom keywords to help establish a smooth, sequential pace for free kicks. Say your words to the rhythm of your shot. For example, if your trigger words are legs and through and your anchor word is yes, put them together: legs through yes! – in rhythm with your shot, from the start of your shot until the ball is released. Using custom keywords in this way sets your pace, improves your mechanics, and builds confidence.
act like a shooter
Exaggerate your follow through, keeping your eyes on the target and your shooting arm up until the ball hits the basket. Keeping your track is not only good mechanically, but more importantly, you look and act like a marksman.
You feel tense before and during your free kick.
Use deep breathing to relax your mind and body. Inhale deeply and exhale fully. Relax your shoulders, letting them drop and slack. Do the same with your arms, hands and fingers. Learn to relax other parts of your body as needed.
Free kick drills
1. Daily free throw practice
Shoot a set number of free throws each day. Practice series of 10 free throws after other drills. Because a player rarely shoots more than two consecutive free throws during a game, when doing this drill, he never shoots more than two consecutive free throws without going out of line.
Practice under pressure. Use your imagination and compete against yourself. For example, imagine that time is up and scoring the free kick will win the game. Record the number of free throws made out of 100 attempts. Constantly challenge your own record. Do the same for consecutive free throws.
Be confident. Use positive affirmations before you go to the line and visualize a successful shot just before you shoot. Having a routine helps build confidence for free kicks. Use deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.
Focus. The final step before shooting is to remove all distractions and focus on the basket. Say your custom keywords in rhythm from the start of your free kick to the release of the ball. If you miss, visualize a successful free kick with good form, again saying your keywords.
Shoot 100 free throws. Score yourself based on the total number of free throws taken. Record your score. Also record the most number of consecutive free throws. Challenge your record every time you do the exercise.
2. Free kicks with eyes open and eyes closed
Research has shown that combining free throw practice with eyes closed and free throw practice with eyes open improves shooting more than free throw practice with eyes open alone. Shooting with your eyes closed removes vision as your dominant sense, heightening your other senses, particularly your kinesthetic sense (feeling of body movement) and touch.
Visualize a successful shot and focus on the basket immediately before closing your eyes. Shoot a free kick with your eyes closed.
Begin the drill by shooting 5 free throws with your eyes open. Have a teammate rebound each shot and keep track of how many shots he makes out of 5 and how many consecutive shots he makes.
After shooting 5 free throws with your eyes open, shoot 5 free throws with your eyes closed. Have a teammate bounce the ball and give you their feedback on each shot, including the reaction of the ball in the hoop. Use this feedback and your kinesthetic and tactile senses to adjust your shot as needed.
Complete the drill by shooting 5 free throws with your eyes open. Have a teammate rebound each shot and keep track of how many shots he makes out of 5 and how many consecutive shots he makes.
Score yourself based on the total number of free throws taken. Record your score. Also record the most number of consecutive free throws. Challenge your record every time you do the exercise.