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First, understand how important free-throw shooting is. At least 3 or 4 games per year in a 20 game schedule will be determined by free-throw shooting. All close games, the ones that really count.. the close tournament games and conference championship games can be won or lost on the free throw line.
2. Put your weight forward on your toes, but keep your back straight... don't lean forward. Keeping your back straight will keep you from stepping over the line. Bend a little at the knees. Your legs will provide the power with an "up motion". Alternatively, some players find it more natural if they first stand up with knees straight, but then initiate the shooting motion by dipping down and bending the knees, and then straightening them as they go up for the shot... a "down then up" motion.
3. Focus on the basket... don't look at the ball or the flight of the ball.
4. Shoot with your right hand (right-handed players), and just use the left hand to help balance the ball. Release the ball from your fingertips to get good backspin (rotation) on the ball.
5. Take the deep breath, and shoot. Use your legs for power and come up on your toes as you release the ball. If your back is straight, you won't cross the line or lunge forward. If you need more power, it's OK to jump a little on your release.
6. Follow-through. Keep looking at the basket and hold your shooting hand in the "gooseneck", follow-through position until the ball goes through the net.
Shoot free throws in the off-season, in the summer. College players may shoot 2000-5000 free throws each summer! High school players should be able to shoot 1000 free throws each summer. Shoot 25 shots every day for 5 days of each week. In eight weeks, you will have shot 1000 free throws... but be sure your technique is correct, using the fundamentals above, and that the line is 15 feet from the backboard. For your own fun, keep track each day of how many you made, and keep your totals. Keep track of each week's stats, and see if you are getting better by the end of the 1000 shots. If you are not improving, there could be a flaw in your fundamentals, and you need to ask for help.
Here's another game you can play, keeping track of your score each day. Shoot 25 free throws. Score a "swish" as two points, an "unswished" made shot as one point, and a miss as zero. A perfect score would be 50. See what your best score is by the end of the summer.
There are some excellent shooting videos (DVD's) that will help you. Tom Nordland's excellent SWISH Video/DVD will help you learn how to shoot, and is a great teaching tool for coaches wanting to learn how to correctly teach shooting form. Hal Wissel has several excellent Shooting DVD's that will take players and coaches to the next level. I highly recommend all of these DVD's.
The Swish Video/DVD and the new "Swish-2" DVD, by shooting coach Tom Nordland. This is an excellent shooting DVD for players and is a great teaching tool for coaches wanting to learn how to correctly teach shooting form.
See this video (courtesy of Tom Nordland) and the wonderful shooting form of this young shooter who was taught using Tom Nordland's Swish method. It shows a progression from close to the basket and eventually to the free-throw line, always with great form.
Steve Alford - The Shot: Shooting Drills & Techniques
with Steve Alford, University of New Mexico Head Coach; former University of Iowa Head Basketball Coach, and former NCAA All-American, NBA guard, and Olympian.
Coach Alford covers every aspect of shooting in this video. Building your Shot begins at the free throw line with the catch and pivot, proper alignment and a shooter's attitude. Coach Alford then demonstrates simple techniques to expand your free throw into jump shots and shooting off the dribble. Learn how to correct "a flying elbow" and a poor pivot. Focus on correct alignment with Coach Alford's four-point checklist and develop the proper attitude to become a successful shooter. Finally, these principles are put to work in various shooting drills... (more info)
How to Coach Free Throw Shooting
with Gary Boren, Dallas Mavericks Shooting Coach. In 2003, the Dallas Mavericks set an NBA record of 49 straight free throws in a playoff game!
The free throw is the single most under-practiced art in basketball and yet, year after year, it comes up as one of the most influential keys to a team winning or losing. Coach Boren covers every aspect of how to coach shooting from catching the ball to the proper alignment and finally, the attitude of the shooter. The techniques that Boren demonstrates are revolutionary in the science of shooting. Some key points of that are discussed are the importance of technique, seeing the perfect shot, shooting mechanics, the importance of your mind, and knowing how to become a scorer... (more info)