Basketball Training & Free Throw Tips
The free throw (n) – a rather unexciting part of the game of basketball, yet a very important one.
If you want to win close games, you’ve got to make free throws. If you want to lose a close game, and subsequently wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it a year or two later, miss a late free throw. There are so many reasons that free throws are important that I could write a book about it, but I want to skip that for now and give you some tips to aid you in converting your precious, valuable free throw opportunities.
Free Throw Routine
One thing that all players need is a free throw routine. A free throw routine is something that you do every single time you take a free throw. For me, its dribble the ball three times, spin the ball, and shoot. It’s been that way since I was 12 years old. Your routine eventually gets stored in your muscle memory, and helps tell your body “Oh okay, I’m shooting a free throw again. I know how I’m supposed to do this”. Your routine aids you in getting mentally and physically ready to shoot regardless of gym location, game situation or crowd noise. This is a very important component of the free throw. If you don’t have a routine, see if you can develop one that you’re comfortable with next time you go out to practice.
Relaxation and Visualization at the Free Throw Line
Good free throw shooters relax and visualize the “make” at the free throw line. You can see relaxation when players take a huge breath before they get ready to shoot. You always want to get into a relaxed state and start thinking about the shot you are about to make instead of the hard foul you just took, the shot you just missed or the game situation. Some players really do a good job of visualizing by shooting an imaginary shot at the basket before they get the ball from the referee. Sometimes it can look funny, but you shouldn’t laugh at these players. Do you know why? Steve Nash, who is #1 in NBA history in free throw percentage, makes a practice of this. It’s a proven system that works.
Follow Through On Every Free Throw, Even An Air Ball
I ask my players all the time these two questions. “Is anybody rushing you at the free throw line?” “Is anybody trying to block your shot at the free throw line?” The answer to both of these is no of course. Then I ask, “Then why not follow through on your shot?” Sometimes in a game you’re not able to fully follow through because of being off-balance while shooting, but at the free throw line there is no excuse. You want to finish your shot by following through and giving yourself the best chance to make the shot. You should hold your follow through until the ball hits or goes through the rim. There’s no need to rush and truncate your trajectory by not following through at the free throw line. The follow throw here can only help you, not hurt you.
We just gave you three great tips for the free throw line. The best way to get better at free throws is to practice, practice, practice and to get with your basketball trainer to work out the kinks. Good luck with your basketball training at the free throw line and happy shooting!