How to shoot a free throw

Shooting from the line is more systematic than planting your feet at the line and launching the basketball at the backboard in hopes the ball actually lands in the net. In fact, free throw shooting takes skill, mechanics and technique for it to be considered a good shot. The following are some important matters in learning to throw a free throw shot.

Shooting a free throw, step-by-step:
1. There is a nail that marks the exact center of the foul line. Find the nail.
2. Center your body so that your head is directly above the nail.
3. Look at the rim. Determine if it is tilting to the left or the right and adjust your body accordingly.
4. Spread your legs shoulder-width apart. Let your body find its most stable position.
5. If you are right-handed, put your left toe several inches behind the line. Reverse if you’re left handed.
6. Now that you are squared-up, loosen up your wrists by shaking your hands for a few seconds.
7. Bounce the ball a few times and spin it in your hands to find your finger placement (Use the seams as a guide, not the needle!).
8. Concentrate on a specific spot on the rim.
9. As you bend your knees and raise the ball to your head you should begin to balance on your toes.
10. Take in several deep breaths (You should be able to hold your breath as you release the ball.).
11. In one fluid motion, remove your guide hand from the ball and flick the wrist toward the rim.
12. Follow through so that your fingers point to the rim.
13. Breathe again!

Routine is key when initially stepping up to the line. A routine works to focus the player on the shot rather than the surroundings. Routines involve shaking or loosening the wrists, bouncing or dribbling the ball, bending the knees several times and taking several deep breaths. Each of these mechanisms works to help relax the shooter from the noisy crowd or mental and physical distractions.

Technique takes practice. Developing the proper finger placement, wrist movements and body alignment is key for shooting your best free throw shot. Palms and fingers should never touch the ball; only the fingertips are used for dribbling, passing, and of course shooting. Apparently Pistol Pete slept with his basketball for finger placement practice, so get your ball into bed.

Each free throw is a new shot, and practice leads to improvement. You do not have to be an NBA player to get your groove on. Grab your ball, find a hoop and get shooting! Remember: believe in yourself, be confident and know that you can do it!