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How to use basketball drills to teach shooting the basketball free throw

This past season showed us some outstanding shooters with unorthodox shots that defy all conventions of good shooting. Florida State’s Noah side spinning free throws is a perfect example. A closer look usually proves they follow three rules of good form: balance, aim, and follow-through.

 Some players are actually on balance even though they appear otherwise. Others could improve their shot by getting on balance. Keep in mind, as coaches; we are concerned with teaching the best procedures.

Aiming is a matter of concentrating as well as sighting. Some coaches advocate shooting just over the lip of the rim. Others like to use the rear rim as the aiming target. I like to consider the whole basket as a circular bulls-eye. The shooter takes a concentrated sight-picture, attempting to strike the center of the target, hitting nothing but net.

 A follow-through is essential to smooth, accurate shooting. It is an integral part of the two-hand set, the moving one-hander and the stationary one-hander. Look for a full extension of the fingers and in the case of the one-hander, a flexing of the wrist. Some coaches refer to the later, as “dipping in the cookie jar.” The ankles should also be extended in the follow-through.

As in the case of a jump shot, a sense of rhythm is helpful. Eliminate jerky motions. The shot should consist of one smooth, continuous motion.

Here are some instructional points to remember:

·         Good body balance

·         Focus on the basket as the bulls-eye picture in the eye.

·         Concentrate and “think” the ball into the target.

·         Follow through

·         Note rhythm and smoothness of motion.

Grooving Your Shot

Before starting practice, each player should grove his shot. Coach Don Meyer has an excellent VCR on this which I think should be in the library of every basketball coach. I like to use it as a free-throw drill, explained as follows:

Free Throw Drill (Grooving the shot)

Free-Throw Drill

Player starts with his initial position in front of the basket. Using good balance, aiming, concentration and follow-through shoots the ball at the target. If the shot is successful, he takes one step backward, taking a pass from the coach who retrieves the ball.

This procedure is repeated until player reaches the free-throw line. If he misses a shot, the player must start from the beginning.

Upon successful completion of all shots back to the free-throw line, the player shoots 10 free-throws. Upon completion the player records his successes in his notebook and posts it on the team bulletin board in locker room.

Free Throw Distraction Drill

This drill is designed to teach players in importance of concentration when shooting the basketball.

·    Place the team in three rows as illustrated.

·    The first player in the middle row shoots two free throws while the other two lines try to distract him by talking to him or waving their hands. Do not allow them to touch him in any way.

·    Performers rotate clockwise, going to the end of another line as three new players move up to take their places.

Competitive Free Throw Drill

The purpose of this drill is to get players in the habit of reacting to every shot, regardless whether it was made or missed.

·    Station six players at a basket. In the drill #1, #3, and #5 are a team and #2, #4, and #6 are another team.

·    If #1 makes the shot, he continues shooting until he makes five in a row. At that time, a teammate becomes a shooter. Any time he should miss, a teammate will become the shooter until all members of one team have had a turn. Then, the three members of the other team take their turn in like manner.

·    When a shooter misses, his teammates try to make tip-ins. The opposing team tries to gain possession and dribble out to the free throw line while the shooting team tries to prevent them. If the opposing team is successful in dribbling the ball out, they become shooters this way.

·    Count each field goal or tip-in as two points and each free throw as one point. The objective of the game is to score 21 points.


Free Throw Accuracy Drill

The purpose of this drill is to put as much game-type pressure on the shooter as possible.

·    Place 5 players at each basket.

·    Without a time limit, have each player to shoot twice so that if everyone is accurate, they would have scored 10 points at the end of one round.

·    The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.

Around the World Free Throw Shooting

This game doesn't allow mechanical shooting to set in because the player must move from one goal to the next. Most modern gyms have at least six goals; however, this game can be adjusted to any number of goals within a gym.

·    All players start at the same goal. Each player shoots one shot then moves counter-clockwise to the next goal.

·    After every player has shot at all goals, check to see how many par shooters you have on the squad. Par is the number of goals in the gym.

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