You’re probably on this page because you’re wondering how to make free throws consistently. Well, the first thing is to get your form right. The next is to strengthen your mindset. Here are some tips on how to achieve both.
In 2009, Kobe Bryant was on a quest to prove that he’s one of the greats.
See, the thing is that he knew that he was a legend.
But many others didn’t. Doubters always said the accomplishments he achieved in years past were only obtainable because he had a titan, Shaquille O’Neal, helping him.
This didn’t sit well with Kobe.
For years after Shaq had left the Los Angeles Lakers, Kobe worked to become the best in the league. He did everything he could to try to win an NBA championship without the “Big Diesel.”
And in 2008, he had his chance.
But this season didn’t end as he hoped.
It wasn’t until 2009 that Kobe really got his chance.
The Lakers were up 2-0 against the Orlando Magic. And in Game 3, the Magic felt the pressure.
So, they gave the Lakers everything they had that game. They defended well and shot well -they just played good basketball.
The entire game was close, with the Magic having the slight lead most of the time.
But in the last minute of the game, the Lakers had a chance to cut the lead down to one.
Kobe was fouled and put on the charity stripe. All he had to do was make two free throws.
But he missed one. He missed one simple free shot.
The Magic ended up winning this game and avoided getting swept.
Free Throws are Difficult. Even The Best of Them Miss Them
After the game, Kobe, frustrated, told reporters that his missing of those shots was an oddity.
“I’m used to coming through in those situations,” said Bryant. “The team trusts me to come through in those situations, and it just didn’t happen tonight.”
His head coach that season, Phil Jackson, was also surprised. But he just chalked it up to Bryant being “human.”
“You know, we’re all frail as humans,” Jackson said.
Regardless of what his coach said, in Kobe fashion, immediately after the post-game conference, he went back to the gym to practice free-throws (or maybe it was the next day. I really don’t remember, but what’s important to note here is that he spared no time to get back into the gym).
So, what’s the point of this story?
It’s to show that the free throw is a difficult shot. Just because the word “free” (or sometimes charity) is in it, doesn’t make it easy.
It’s also one of the most important types of shots in this game.
There’s a lot that goes into shooting and making this shot and you should put in the effort to practice it.
How To Practice Free-Throw Shooting
The free-throw -the shot itself- is not that difficult.
As long as you have the fundamentals of shooting down, you should be able to make them consistently.
However, the psychological part of shooting a free throw is what throws players off (as Michael Jordan says in the video above).
There’s the pressure of you (and everyone watching you) expecting yourself to make it, the pressure from knowing that missing the shot can cost the game, and the pressure from your opponents taunting and mocking you.
All of these things (and possibly more) will affect the form of your shot if you let them.
So, what you have to do first is to make sure your form is perfect. Make sure it’s on point and that you have mastered it.
Then, you have to practice the free-throw with your in-game mindset (or with psychological pressures).
You have to pretend as if you were taking these shots after you just got fouled. You have to imagine your opponents taunting you and your team cheering you on.
And if you miss these shots, you’re losing the game.
Conjure these feelings and emotions when you practice and eventually you’ll be comfortable with them.
This will prevent them from creeping up and bothering you when you have to take foul shots.
To practice free-throw shooting, try this simple drill:
- Start off by making 10 free throws. This will be to warm up and to get you comfortable with your shot.
- Then, conjure in-game emotions and shoot 25 free throws.
- Take a short break and shoot another 25.
- Aim for a 70 percent FT shooting average. So, you have to make 35 of the 50 shots.
- If you play this with a teammate, whoever gets closer to the 70 percent (or 35 made shots) wins.
- You can also increase the total amount of shots as well if 25 isn’t challenging enough.
And there you have it.
That’s how you practice shooting free throws -the most basic yet most difficult shot in basketball.
Give this drill a try and see how it improves your game.
P.S. The Lakers won that series in Game 5 if you were still curious. This Finals’ win got Kobe his fourth championship ring.