No matter what the statistics say, basketball fans insist that free throws are “easy”. On occasion, fans will become so irate with the pro that misses the shot, that they’ll react with a verbal tirade directed at the player.
“He’s making how many millions of dollars, and he can’t hit a FREE THROW!?”
Consider this – the NBA is comprised of the best players in the world. During any given season somewhere in the area of 50,000-60,000 free throws can be taken in the NBA’s regular season. Out of those shots, we generally see a 75% conversion rate. Not bad, I guess. However, on the flip side, NBA players miss around 12,500-15,000 free throws! Wow, that’s a lot!
Let’s be clear about one thing, NBA players are not missing intentionally. In fact, they spend a lot of time working on their free throws. The point is… free throws aren’t as “easy” as everyone thinks. Truth be told, there is a lot that can go wrong “at the line”.
So, what’s the trick? How do you master hitting free throws during a game?
Try these four strategies (two are mental and two are physical).
- Visualize – Mental preparation is not used nearly enough by young players. The power of visualization is incredible. While practicing alone, imagine yourself in a game-like situation; down by 1, with no time on the clock. Take your free throw and hit it. You can set up the imaginary situation however you like. By doing so, your mind and body will be better prepared when the real situation arises. During the actual game you will be at an advantage, because in your head, you have already been there, and have already experienced SUCCESS at the foul line. Note: You do not have to be in the gym to use the visualization method. Another popular time to visualize success is right before you go to bed. Before you fall asleep, put yourself in a game-like situation and watch yourself succeed and lead your team to victory.
- Don’t think – It’s not easy, but while you’re at the line, try not to think. Trust your ability and shoot the basketball. You should believe 100% that every shot you take is going in, regardless of any prior shots. Trust in your ability.
Have a Routine – Get into your comfort zone. Every player has a routine, even if the routine is not having a routine at all. Whatever it is, make sure that you use it every time you step up to the free throw line; whether in practice or during a game. It should be exactly the same every time it’s performed. It should have the same pace, the same body motions, etc. Why? When you get into a game and there are other factors involved, (the crowd, the coach, the teammates, etc), your routine puts you into your comfort zone. You want your muscle memory and your subconscious to kick in. By having a routine you will increase the chances of your body relaxing and hitting the free throw.
- Get the Reps – As I stated in the last segment, repetition is key. You have to shoot tons of free throws to get good at them. Getting reps in is just as important as all of the other strategies. Vice versa, all of the other strategies are just as important as getting in the reps. Just shooting tons of free throws isn’t going to make you a great free throw shooter. That should have been clear when we discussed the NBA players; those guys shoot a ton! However, repetition does play a big role in the process. Shoot as many free throws as possible, daily.(Try our FREE Shootin’ School Free Throw Shooting App to be even MORE efficient! (NAMAN, please link the Free Throw Shootin App Blog link to the words above “Shootin’ School Free Throw Shooting App”)When you apply all of these techniques, you will see that the combination of mental preparation and physical preparation will make you an elite free throw shooter!Good Luck.