Shooting free kicks successfully requires confidence, good mechanics, routine, relaxation, rhythm, and focus. Routine, relaxation and rhythm contribute to concentration and confidence.

Confidence

Think positively. You always shoot from the same place in the line. Nobody is guarding you. The basket is big. Three and a half balls fit in the hoop. With confidence, and solid mechanics, you can’t lose.

Stand a few feet behind the free throw line until the referee hands you the ball. You will be more relaxed there. If you hear negative comments from the crowd or acknowledge your own negative thoughts, interrupt them with the word stop. Take a deep breath and let go of negative thoughts as you exhale. Replace them with a positive statement of affirmation like I’m a shooter! Nothing but network! or tell it!

Routine

Develop a solid routine for your free throw. A routine helps you relax, focus, and shoot with rhythm. Most importantly, using a routine will improve your confidence. The routine may include dribbling a set number of times, checking one or two mechanics, using visualization to mentally practice your free kick just before you shoot it, and taking deep breaths to relax. Get into a solid routine and stick to it; it’s a mistake to copy fads or repeatedly change your routine.

Here is a sample routine that you can adjust to suit you. Once you receive the ball, position your feet, making sure to align the ball (not your head) with the center of the basket. Use the small notch mark on the floor in the exact middle of the free throw line that marks the free throw circle. Position your shooting foot slightly outside this mark, lining up the ball with the center of the basket.

Most players use the one-handed shot for a free kick and take the time to master each of the basic mechanics: balance, hand position, elbow alignment, sight (focus), pace, and follow through.

Lay down in a balanced posture. Some players bounce the ball a certain number of times to help them relax. When you bounce the ball, keep your shooting hand up. This helps you to have your shooting hand facing the basket when you set the high stance to shoot. Use a relaxed hand position and align your index finger with the valve on the ball. Next, check your elbow alignment. Some players don’t have the flexibility to have their hand facing the basket and their elbow in. It’s more important to have your shooting hand facing the basket than to have your elbow all the way in. If your hand tends to roll to the side when you bring your elbow in, let your elbow hang out a bit.

Relaxation

Learn to relax when shooting free throws. You have more time to think with free kicks than with other shots. Pushing yourself too hard can cause undue physical or emotional stress. Use deep breathing to relax your mind and body. For a free kick, you should especially relax your shoulders; take a deep breath and let your shoulders drop and loosen. Do the same with your arms, hands and fingers. Learn to relax other parts of your body. Controlling your breathing and relaxing your muscles is especially helpful in a free-throw routine.

Concentration

Before you shoot, visualize a successful shot. Visualization just before shooting can produce a more fluid, smooth and continuous rhythm and increase confidence. Right before you shoot, focus on your target just above the front of the rim. Keep your focus on the target as you shoot.

Swing

Start your shot high and use the up and down motion of your legs for rhythm instead of lowering the ball for rhythm. The up and down movement of the legs provides momentum for the shot and is particularly useful when shooting late in the game when the legs are tired. By starting with the ball high and using your legs to keep up, you will lessen the chance of error that can come from lowering the ball.

Shoot the free kick with a smooth, flowing rhythm. Use custom keywords to help set a smooth, sequential pace for free kicks. Say your words to the rhythm of your shot. For example, if your trigger words are legs and through and your anchor word is yes, put them together: legs through yes! – in rhythm with your shot, from the start of your shot until the ball is released. Using custom keywords in this way sets your pace, improves your mechanics, and builds trust.

Act like a shooter

Exaggerate your follow through, keeping your eyes on the target and your shooting arm up until the ball reaches the basket. Keeping your follow is not only good mechanically, but more importantly, you look and act like a marksman.

common mistake

He feels tense before and during his free throw.

Correction

Use deep breathing to relax your mind and body. Take a deep breath in and exhale fully. Relax your shoulders, letting them drop and loosen. Do the same with your arms, hands and fingers. Learn to relax other parts of your body as needed.

free kick drills

1. Daily Free Throw Practice

Shoot a set number of free throws each day. Practice sets of 10 free throws after other drills. Because a player rarely shoots more than two free throws in a row during a game, when doing this drill, he never shoots more than two free throws in a row without going off the line.

Practice under pressure. Use your imagination and compete against yourself. For example, imagine time is up and scoring the free throw will win the game. Record the number of free throws made out of every 100 attempts. Constantly challenge your own record. Do the same with consecutive free throws.

Be confident. Use positive affirmations before you go to the line and visualize a successful shot just before you shoot. Having a routine helps build confidence for free throws. Use deep breathing and muscle relaxation techniques.

Approach. The final step before shooting is to eliminate all distractions and focus on the basket. Say your custom keywords in rhythm from the start of your free throw to the release of the ball. If you miss, visualize a successful free kick with good form, again saying your keywords.

Shoot 100 free throws. Score yourself based on the total number of free throws made. Record your score. Also record the most consecutive free throws. Challenge your record every time you do the exercise.

2. Free throws with eyes open and eyes closed

Research has shown that combining free throw practice with eyes closed and free throw practice with eyes open improves shooting more than free throw practice with eyes open alone. Shooting with your eyes closed removes vision as your dominant sense, heightening your other senses, particularly the kinesthetic sense (sensation of body movement) and touch.

Visualize a successful shot and focus on the basket immediately before closing your eyes. Take a free throw with your eyes closed.

Begin the drill by shooting 5 free throws with your eyes open. Have a partner rebound each shot and keep track of how many shots he makes of 5s and how many consecutive shots he makes.

After shooting 5 free throws with eyes open, shoot 5 free throws with eyes closed. Have a teammate bounce the ball and give you their feedback on each shot, including the reaction of the ball in the rim. Use this feedback and your tactile and kinesthetic senses to adjust your shot as needed.

Complete the drill shooting 5 free throws with your eyes open. Have a partner rebound each shot and keep track of how many shots he makes of 5s and how many consecutive shots he makes.

Score yourself based on the total number of free throws made. Record your score. Also record the most consecutive free throws. Challenge your record every time you do the exercise.

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