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Improve your Free-Throw

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During a basketball game, free-throws are extremely important to a teams success.  These crucial shots can be the difference between winning and losing a game.  Free-throws are shot as a result of a technical or flagrant foul, a foul while in the process of shooting, or any foul after the opposing team has exceeded the foul limit.  Since these shots are so common and important, everyone from beginners to pros should spend plenty of time working on their free-throws.  The following is a list of ways to improve your free-throw percentage:

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice! Shooting free-throws is a great way to warm up for a practice.  Also, since it does not take a lot of energy, it is a practice routine that one can do for a long time without getting tired.  I would suggest spending about 30 minutes a day working on free-throw for a serious basketball player.
  2. Start with a good Base When facing up to shoot a free-throw, many beginners make the mistake of lining up exactly in the middle of the free-throw.  Instead one should line up their dominant foot(right if shooting right-handed) with the center of the court.  Your feet should be about shoulder width apart and facing straight(no pidgin toes).  Your leading foot should be directly behind the free-throw line and your other foot should be a few inches back from the line.
  3. Get a Good Handle on the Ball First, position your arm so that your shooting elbow is directly above your foot.  Your elbow is bent at a 90 degree angle.  Your wrist is parallel to you bicep and the ball sits on the fingers of your hand.  Your non-dominant hand is placed on the side of the ball and acts only to guide the ball.  Your should not use this hand to generate power to move the ball. 
  4. Perform with Style  The act of shooting the basketball becomes an art.  Crouch down as you will use strength from your legs to generate a forward flow of your body.  As you begin to move upward from your crouch, your forearm should move upward as well.  As you approach the max height, your will begin to move your wrist forward.  Right as you reach the top of your upward acceleration, you quickly flick the wrist forward and let the ball slide off of your hand.  You should end with your shooting hand still above your front foot and your middle finger in line with the rim.
  5. Concentrate Concentration is key when facing the challenge of the free-throw.  Use a routine that will help you relax and stay focused.  This could be to dribble the ball two times or three times before taking your shot.  Maybe, your routine is to not dribble the ball at all.  Do whatever works and makes you feel comfortable.  You get 10 seconds to take your shot so you have plenty of time.  Don’t rush your free-throw.  NBA star Tim Duncan is one of the most delayed free-throw shooters that I have ever seen, so don’t feel like taking time to concentrate and hit your free-throws means that you are not a good player.
  6. See the Vision Have a positive mentality when shooting free-throw.  Be confident that you can make the shot.  Keep your eye on the back of the rim as that is where you want the ball to go.  Image the ball leaving your hand, floating through the air, and falling straight through the net.

Remember the good old saying, “Practice makes perfect”.  While you while never be a 100% free-throw shooter, practice will definitely increase your performance.  Hitting every free-throw is probably impossible, so just set your goal to have a better free-throw percentage than the day before.  Some time you will make it, some time you won’t.  That’s okay because overall, your free-throw percentage will improve and maybe one day you will be hitting the free-throw that adds the icing on the cake in an important game.


Wade Boden is the Artwork Director of Robbins Sports, an online vendor of Basketball Uniforms, Gym Bags, and Residential Basketball Goals.