6 Secrets to Free Throw Shooting Success
by Rick Torbett

  1. Shooting Mechanics. Develop a ONE-PIECE Free Throw shooting motion. When you pull the trigger, everything goes up and out – no pauses, no detours, no negative motion.
  2. Alignment. Most players line up their strong foot with the center of the goal. This is a mistake. Instead, line up your SHOT LINE – the path that your ball your takes from beginning to release. That’s usually the width of your foot on the inside of your strong foot.
  3. After-the-Whistle Attitude. This is the beginning of a planned and practiced mental exercise that begins with thoughts that open your doors of confidence and composure, culminating with the release of your Free Throw. Often these are drawn from past successes at the Free Throw line.
  4. Find the Groove. Beat the ball to the Free Throw line and shoot some imaginary “practice” Free Throws. See the imaginary ball go in several times until you can remember and “feel the groove” of a made Free Throw.
  5. Pre-Shot Ritual. This is closely tied to your “After-the-Whistle Attitude”. In addition to being physical reminders, a consistent, never changing Pre-Shot Ritual will give you a RHYTHM – the same rhythm that good shots have during running time: Once the ball is given to you, Sight the Rim (first time), Knee Bend, Two Bounces, Inhale/Exhale, Sight the Rim (second time), Pull the Trigger in one smooth motion.
  6. Finish.  Hold your follow-through until the ball goes through the rim. More specifically, hold both arms extended with the goal framed between your forearms/wrists. Your shooting fingers should be above the goal pointing down the center line of the goal. 

Better Free Throws

How well did you shoot free throws this season? Did you fall short of 80%? If you were above 80%, could you have been at 90%?

Here is a free chapter from Better Free Throws explaining the ‘Ingredients for Success’ at the Free Throw Line.

Does Pre-Game Trash Talk Serve a Purpose in Basketball?

In Episode #36 of the Hardwood Hustle Basketball Podcast, Alan Stein (Stronger Team) and Adam Bradley (Ball Hogs Radio) have one of their infamous heated debates on whether players should ‘talk trash’ before a game. Adam contends it is necessary for some players to play their best where Alan feels your game should do the talking.


Full Time-Out with Rick Torbett

This Full-Time-Out is the video version of the audio played at the end of the Hardwood Hustle Podcast: Does Pre-Game Trash Talk Serve a Purpose in Basketball above. Listen for a new Full Time-Out at the end of each episode of the Hardwood Hustle! 

Your Free Throws Are Driving Me Crazy!

Please share your questions, comments, thoughts, experiences, etc. in the ‘Leave a Reply’ section below…

2 Responses

  1. Gonna have to disagree with your Full Time-out comments on not stepping off the line after the first free throw. I think players SHOULD step off the line on a make or miss.

    I think it’s better to have one ritual/pattern to your free throws. You do the same thing every free throw. If I make the first, I step off the line, say to myself any corrections I need (“balance”, “follow through”, etc) to perfect the shot. If I miss, I know why I missed and I step off the line and speak my corrections. In either case, I repeat my standard ritual which cues up my brain and body to the correct action. I rarely if ever miss two in a row.

    Besides, I remember a principle I think I got from you: you need to learn to be a 1-for-1 shooter. I think having a single routine works better toward that.

    Anyway, I appreciate BetterBasketball’s resources and am really enjoying March!

    1. Dale – If ONLY players were doing what you just described, FT% would sky-rocket! You have a PRE-SHOT RITUAL, a mental mechanism to Flush, Fix, and Forget a miss, and the awareness that your body and brain must be “cued up” before every shot! You are so far ahead of the average player, that I feel silly replying to your comment!

      Stepping off the line, walking around, slapping hands, looking at the bench, the crowd, the scoreboard, etc., are all clues to me that the average FT shooter would read your second paragraph and just scratch their head! They are not stepping off the line because its part of their FT Ritual/Pattern. They’re stepping off because they’re clueless about what it takes to shoot 90% from the FT line.

      If we can move the average FT% into the 80’s, there will be fewer fouls because it’s almost an automatic two points! Stoppage would go down and I would visit the refrigerator fewer times during the game!

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