The free throw is simultaneously the easiest and the hardest shot in the game
As the name suggests, free throws are meant to be an easy, high-percentage reward to deter games from getting too foul-happy. The struggles faced by some of the game’s elite, even at the NBA level, show that this is not always the case. The importance of free throws are in little doubt, as points left on the table can often decide the outcome of a game. With that in mind, here are some non-technical tips for improving your percentage at the charity stripe.
Routine: Establishing a routine can be helpful for getting you into your rhythm, allowing you to set up a comfortable shot in the midst of a grueling game. By following the same steps each time, players can free their minds from overthinking what should be the simplest shot in the game, with no defense being played.
Practice: There is no substitute for practice, which builds up your muscle memory. As you are allowed the luxury of time at the line, you should make sure that you are taking the same shot each time. Sufficient practice will again save you from having to think about your shot. Square up, release, follow through, repeat.
Focus: There is a need for deliberate practice, and not just practice. As legendary coach Bobby Knight put it, free throws should not be used as a break from training, but an essential component. Deliberate practice is systematic and goal-driven, and players should aim to improve their free throw shooting percentages every time. Bear in mind that the record for most consecutive free throws made is an astounding 5,221, made by Ted St Martin back in 1996. Each and every basketball player can definitely still get better at the shot!
Imagery: Imagery can often aid players in concentrating during a loud and tiring match. Using mental sequences of a successful shot, the free throw shooter can build confidence while minimizing the pressures of the game, paying attention to only himself or herself, the ball and the rim.