Basketball Drills - Free-Throw Shooting Drills

By Dr. James Gels, from the Coach's Clipboard Basketball Playbook
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Free-Throw Shooting Drill #1. "1-and-1"

Have your team break up into pairs, or threes, and use all the baskets for free-throw shooting. Instead of shooting 5, 10 or 20 consecutive free-throws, have them shoot like in a game situation, shooting the "1-and-1". If the shooter misses the first of the "1-and-1", he/she runs a lap and doesn't get the second shot.

If the first shot is made, but the second is missed, another lap is run. Each player has to make a certain number of free-throws (maybe 10). Shooters who miss a lot, will be running a lot of laps and this is good for simulating game fatigue (and the pressure to make each shot).

Free-Throw Shooting Drill #2. "Plus 2, Minus 2"

Have shooters pair up (or in 3's). Each player will shoot sets of two free-throws. If the shot is swished (nothing but net), he/she gets +1. A miss is -1. A shot that is made but not swished is 0. Any time one player gets to +2, his partner(s) must do five push-ups. Any time a player gets to -2, he/she must do five push-ups. Do the drill for 5 minutes.

Free throw shooting

Free-Throw Shooting Drill #3. "Shoot 10"

Have shooters pair up (or in 3's). Each player shoots ten free-throws. This is more of an individual drill, and each shooter's goal is to make 8 of 10 free-throws. If he fails to make 8, he must do ten push-ups, or run laps.

Free-Throw Shooting Drill #4. "Shooter-Rebounder-Runner"

This drill attempts to simulate the game situation where the free-shooter is fatigued. Use all baskets and break the players up into groups of three. At each basket, there is one shooter, one rebounder and one "runner". The shooter shoots two free-throws, while the rebounder rebounds for the shooter, and the runner sprints a lap.

After shooting the two free-throws, the shooter now becomes the rebounder, the rebounder becomes the runner, and the runner (who is now tired from running) becomes the shooter of the next two shots. Continue this rotation.

You can continue running this drill for a specified time period, or until each player has shot a specified number of free-throws (say 20).

Free-Throw Shooting Drill #5. "team competition"

Do this drill at the end of practice when players are tired, to simulate game fatigue. Use both ends of the court, half of the team on one basket, the other half on the other basket.

Tell the players we are pretending the game is tied at 50-50. Then first player in each line will shoot the first of a 1-and-1 free throw. If the first is made, then the player shoots the bonus. If the other team misses the first shot, they may not shoot again until the other team has completed the bonus shot.

Keep track of the score with each free throw. Then the next player in each line shoots the 1-and-1, and so forth. The first team to 60 is the winner. If there is time, play the best 2 out of 3 games. The losers run. A player from the losing team who made all her free throws can be rewarded by not having to run.

Note: make sure each player gets to shoot. The above example is for 5 players on each team. If you only have four on each team, make the starting score 52 - 52, and the winning score 60, so each player gets to shoot. If you have 12 players, use 48 - 48 as the starting score, etc.

Free-Throw Shooting Drill #6. "6 In-A-Row"

This drill puts pressure on the shooter. Use all baskets and have two or three players at each basket. Set a time limit of 5 minutes. Each player must make 6 consecutive shots in that time span.

Players who do not succeed will run or do push-ups at the end. Each shooter gets two shots to start with. If the first is missed, he/she gets another attempt. If the second is missed, another player becomes the shooter. If a shot is made, he/she keeps shooting until either 6 consecutive free-throws are made, or until he/she misses.

If a shot is missed, his/her score resets back to zero, and another player becomes the shooter. Once a shooter completes 6 in-a-row, he/she is finished and helps rebound and encourage others. If a basket becomes emtpy (both shooters are finished), other shooters may use that hoop. For varsity boys, we make it 8 in-a-row.

Free-Throw Shooting Drill #7. "Guts Free-Throws"

This is another drill that puts pressure on shooters and tries to prepare them for the fan distractions that occur in a game. Have all of your players line up along the endline on one end of the floor.

Starting out, have the first player in the line step forward to the free-throw line while teammates stay along the endline. He/she must shoot two free-throws. Coaches, assistants will yell and try to distract the shooter. Here is the pressure - each time a shot is missed, the entire team runs one full-court lap.

If the shooter misses the first shot, everyone runs and he/she must return and shoot the second one - another miss and everyone runs. Go thru the entire line so that each player shoots two. This is a tough drill, both for the pressure and the conditioning.

Free-Throw Shooting Drill #8. "80%"

This team shooting drill requires your team to make 80% of their free-throws, or they all have to do pushups or run.

If you have a youth team, or a team that struggles more with free throws, you might have to change the 80% to something less (70 or 75%), but still realizing that in games, there is a drop-off from what you usually shoot in practice. Use all the baskets. Each player shoots ten free throws, keeping track of how many he/she makes.

When players finish their ten, each player will inform the assistant of his score. The assistant tallies up all the free throws made and divides by the total number of shots to get the percentage. For example, last night our 13 players made 92/130, only 71%, so they all ran.

Free-Throw Shooting Drill #9. "Net"

See this drill from coach Phil Martelli's DVD "Skill Development Workouts for All Ages".

Related pages:

See this video (courtesy of Tom Nordland):