Every basketball team and coach should have a philosophy about shooting. Many games at all levels of basketball are won and lost at the free throw line. Losing a game by a few points can be hard to deal with, especially if the team had missed lots of free throw attempts or missed the front shot of many bonus situations.
Free throw shooting, like other motor skills, requires sound mechanical principles. When a player is not shooting a high percentage at the free throw line (80% or more), there is usually some mechanical problems in his technique.
The free throw shot can be broken down into two basic areas:
(1) preparation and (2) the actual shot.
The free throw preparation areas.
1. Alignment of the shooter’s body and feet at the line
The shooter should always position himself at the free throw line in the exact same position each time he goes to the line to shoot. A good free throw shooter will do the same thing at the free throw line every time, developing a consistent routine.
2. The body position
The body should be in a position with the knees and waist bent slightly. The head is up and in a steady position. The ball held out away from the, ready be be brought up into the shooting position
3. The grip on the ball
The ball is held so that the shooting hand is placed behind and under the ball. The fingers should be comfortably spread, as wide as possible without causing strain. The fingertips should not be placed on the seams of the ball!
The thumb and the little finger should support the ball while the other three fingers are balancing the ball in the hand. There should be “daylight” between the ball and the palm of the hand. The non-shooting hand should be placed on the side of the ball, with the hand at a 45% angle to each other.
4. The arm/hand position
The shooting arm should be brought up into the shooting position before bending the legs or during the bending of the legs (either is acceptable). The wrist should be cocked backward and the elbow pointed straight toward the center line of the rim. The ball should be in a position on the side and in front of the head. The non-shooting arm should be placed out to the side and in front of the head, so that when the ball is brought up the the shooting point. t
5. The aim
The shooter should aim for the loop in the net that is just below the back part of the rim. Do not use the front of the rim as reference point.
The actual shot consists of three parts.
1. The shooting motion
Before the actual shooting motion begins, the shooter should pause and concentrate. Then without thinking, the shooting is began by bending the knees and raising he ball to the shooting position or by raising the ball into the shooting position and then bending the knees. Either is acceptable.
The body is then straightened with a smooth, coordinated extension of the knees, hips, shooting elbow and wrist.
2. The fingers
The ball is propelled forward (shot) with a flip of the wrist forward, with the power coming from the three middle fingers. The ball comes off the index and middle fingers last. The non-shooting arm and hand should remain perfectly still. The wrist and fingers should straighten as the ball is being shot.
3. The follow through
The follow through part of the shot is very important yalla shoot . It is the complete extension of the legs, arms and complete bending of the wrist with the fingers kept straight. The shooter should end up on the toes and hold the final position a few seconds.
The hand and fingers should follow through toward the basket with an outward turn and end up pointed downward toward the floor.
4. The release point of the ball
The final key to improving your free throws is the release point. The release point is the place or point in the free throw shot where the ball actually leaves the hand. It is the point where the arm stops it’s forward motion while the follow through of the wrist and fingers is being completed!
In order to improve your free throws, there must be consistency in the shooting techniques and mechanics. Success is about consistency. Good free throw shooters in the NBA are the ones who shoot over 80%. These are the best of the best players. With proper training, as above, there really is no reason why players at lower levels can’t do the same.
What causes players to miss a high percentage of free throws is either a vertical or horizontal variation in their shooting mechanics and techniques. Make it happen! Improve your free throws. Improve you free throw techniques and mechanics.
About me. I have a teaching degree in physical education and have taught for 34 years. I have coached at the middle school and high school levels for nearly 25 years. Having coached several sports, basketball is my passion.