Drill of the Week: Shooting The Free Throw
In the NBA, the battle over the free throw line rages on as hack-a techniques are getting more popular by the day. With Dwight Howard, DeAndre Jordan, and Andre Drummond getting intentionally forced to shoot free throws each night, the topic can often become an absolute nightmare. While the league has made strides in stopping some versions of the foul, it remains an essential part of basketball.
There's no denying that not hitting a free throw can be frustrating, but they're easily practicable and students of the game at any level should make it a focus point in their training! Not only is it an opportunity to score without the clock running, but it can be the difference between clinching or blowing a game. As always, we're linking to our Training Center and an article we wrote about sinking a free throw, highlighting our favorite section, and then suggesting some drills for you to implement. Here's an article titled "Shooting The Free Throw."
Try to Align
First, you want to align your shooting hand with the basket. If you are a righty, you should be standing with your right foot in the center of the foul line, and vice-versa if you’re lefty. Make sure your shoulders are square to the basket as well, you wouldn’t kick a field goal by pointing your body towards the sidelines, right? The same principle applies here! You’ll want to make the shot as easy as possible for you, so making sure you’re pointed straight on towards the hoop and aligned correctly will take a ton of pressure off the shot.
What’s Your B.E.E.F?
B.E.E.F. stands for balance, elbow, eyes, and follow-through -- it’s the age-old adage that you were likely taught in elementary school gym class, but it still rings true, even for professionals. They may seem self-explanatory, but there are handfuls of athletes that ignore these ideals and don’t practice enough to become an above average shooter at the line. Simply put, if you can’t be relied upon to make a free throw, you’ll often find yourself glued to the bench during the most important moments.
Again, you'll find the full entry here, but this is a great jumping off point for those looking to improve at the free throw line. Once you've centered yourself, walked through the balancing steps, and followed-through on your great release -- there are many drills that'll take your game to #AnotherLevel.
For starters, take ten straight without stopping, trying zone in and focus while having a partner rebound the ball for you. If you miss your goals (say, making 7/10), sprint to the other side of the court and back.
During clutch games, you'll have to hit a free throw even when you're exhausted, so try doing a full workout before your attempts. Inventing scenarios, playing loud music, and challenging yourself are great ways to train your mind to block out the pressures and distractions when they matter most.
A huge part of basketball success comes from your mental endurance, so do your homework and training before the big moment comes -- you'll thank yourself later. Once you've nailed free throw shooting, your team and coach will be able to count on you no matter the situation!