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How to Score a Free Throw Without Fail

You previously learnt how to work on your shooting in the article Tips to Improve Your Shot By Ben Knight, but this article focuses on the free-throw technique.

A free throw occurs when a player from the opposing team fouls you when you are in the act of shooting a goal. As basketball is a close contact sport, meaning this can occur multiple times in one game. So it’s important to learn how to shoot the perfect free throw when the time comes.

1. Stance Position

Stand in the middle of the free-throw line, a couple of inches away from the line, so you don’t accidentally step over it during the shot.

Tip: sometimes there is a small nail hole or small black dot showing the centre of the free-throw line.

Place your dominant hand side foot (i.e. if you’re right-handed it’ll be your right foot) slightly in front of the other and have the feet directly pointing to the backboard.

2. The Mental Process

The mental process is essential when performing a free throw. Coaches suggest to think about the process and focus on doing it right, then the results will do the rest.

To switch into the mental process, many players have a ritual they choose to perform. It’s about 2-4 seconds long because players are only allocated 10 seconds to make the free throw. Depending on the player it could be two dribbles or spinning the ball in your hands.

It should be something that’s easy to repeat so that when you do it your mind automatically knows the next steps.

3. Hand Position

Hold the ball in your dominant hand with the seams running horizontally. Your middle finger of your dominant hand should be on one of these seams, and your other fingers should be naturally spread out. Then rest the other hand on the side as a point of guidance.

Bring the basketball close to your face on the dominant side by bending your elbow at 90 degrees. Your dominant hand should now be under the ball, ready to flick the wrist.

4. Bend the knees

Add a slight bend at the knees to help generate power through the shot.

5. Eye on the prize

Your eyes should be looking at where you want the shot to go.

Tip: most players look at the back centre of the rim, otherwise known as the middle-hook.

6. Shoot

To produce the best results, it’s important to shoot and arc the ball on the way to the hoop. Throwing it flat will most likely result in it hitting the rim and rebounding.

To achieve an arc, you need to extend the elbow and flick the wrist and fingers forwards. While doing this, you should straighten out your legs, adding in a small jump if more power is needed.

7. Follow through

As the ball leaves your hand, your shooting arm should be fully extended above your head and your wrist slightly down. This will make sure the basketball arcs and gives the ball backspin.

8. Reward yourself

Don’t be afraid to congratulate yourself in a humble manner. This will increase your confidence and help you next time you need to score.

9. Practice

Rinse and repeat. Repeating your steps will help develop your mental process when you need to perform on game day.

Find a basketball camp near you these school holidays!


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