Free throws should be the easiest shot for anyone to make. It’s shot from the exact same position on the court every time. There is no defender in the way, and if you have the home court or are playing a game of 21, there is much less distraction. Free throws take practice, but most of all, it takes knowledge of just knowing how to correctly shoot the free throw. Every person has the ability to make a high percentage of free throws, they just have to know how to correctly shoot free throws. Shooting from the same location, without defense, and being able to go through your procedure should allow every player to be a quality free throw shooter. If you cannot make 70% of your free throws, we need to make some adjustments.
There are a few different schools of thought for free throw shooting. Part of what goes into a good free throw shot that consistently goes in is having good form, a routine, and a clear though process.
Let’s start with the form. Free throw form has a lot to do with basic proper jump shot form. Some hogwash that has been passed down over the years is that players should square up with both feet on the line and both shoulders at the basket. If you look at any good free throw shooter in today’s NBA, none of them do that. They either will have their lead foot lined up, and toe pointed directly with the basket, and the other slightly back and at a slight angle away, or, they will have the lead foot lined up at the basket but the toe points slightly in. After your feet are set, find where the pump hole is located on the ball, and with your shooting hand, place the hole in between your index and middle finger. These two fingers are the last to touch the ball and the hole is in the direct center of the ball, so when shooting, you know your hand will be centered.
Now for the form during the shot:
-Eyes on the basket,
-Elbow tucked in,
-Bring the ball up to right above your shooting eye or just off,
-Bend at the knees,
-On the extension up, release your guide hand and it should be all shooting hand on the release.
-The shooting hand should be directly lined up with the hoop with the help of the elbow tucked in
-Follow through on the shot to get a spin on the ball and you should shoot it straight at the hoop.
-Get some lift on the ball and begin to judge the power necessary to hit nothing but net.
Free throw shooting has a lot to do with mentality at the line. If you know the correct form that you are shooting with, clear your mind and tune out the distractions. Get use to the repeatable motion of your free throw shot and don’t deviate. Your muscles will learn the repeatable motion of the shot and building your muscle memory will help keep yourself in tune with shooting correctly. Trust your muscles, and don’t stress over the shot. A poor mentality will cause you to distrust your own abilities and lose concentration and end up missing the shot.
If you are having serious with problems with free throw shooting, consider the Rick Barry famously made free throw shot. The Hall of Famer and converter of 90% of free throw attempts over his career utilized the underhand free throw. The shot is very soft and goes into the basket at an angle that gives it the chance to use a good portion of the basket. Even if you hit the rim, it’s such a soft shot that it has a good chance of rolling in.
To use the underhand freethrow, you want to be able to hold the ball on the sides evenly and stand with your feet spread shoulder width apart. Arms are hanging down, relaxed and naturally. Dip with your butt down a little bit. Rick Barry says to cock the wrist but while dipping down, keep your arms still, and on the way up, swing the arms both directly towards the basket using both hands to shoot unlike traditional free throw form. Release at about parallel to the floor and the ball should spin giving it a fantastic chance of making it even if you hit the rim. But, even this type of free throw will take tons of practice to perfect, especially since it is unnatural for most players.
Some players in today’s NBA should consider the Rick Barry type of free throw. Particularly the players who are not improving in the free throw percentage, namely Dwight Howard and Andre Drummond.
Chinano Onuaku was recently drafted by the Houston Rockets. He struggled with his free throw until he was man enough to try the underhand free throw shot, and now uses great Rick Barry form and is starting to make a lot of his free throws now. Check it out below