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How To Be A Great Free Throw Shooter: 9 Tips For Basketball Players

Posted by: Dr. Granat on December 15, 2010

Are you a serious basketball player? Do you love playing hoops? Would you like to be a better free throw shooter? Do you choke when you have to make a pressure free throw? Are you easily distracted at the line? Can trash talk get to you in a big game?
I get calls all the time from basketball players who want to improve their foul shooting. Some of these players are kids. Some are college players and some are playing at the professional level.
In fact, two weeks ago, I got a call from a manager of an NBA All Star. Apparently, her client, a veteran had lost his confidence at the free throw line and wanted my help.
Basketball players call me because they realize that making foul shots has a lot to do with what is going on in their head before they get to the line and once they get to the line.
Shooting foul shots is quite mental, once you master the mechanics of holding the ball properly, aiming properly, using your legs, maintaining your balance and imparting some backspin on the basketball.
Remember, there is nobody guarding you at the foul line and you get the opportunity to get set, get comfortable and find your shooting eyes, your shooting touch and your shooting mind. The pace during a basketball game is very different than the pace when you are at the line.
Here are a few more tips to help you be more consistent and efficient at the foul line during game conditions:
1. Develop a consistent routine when you step up to the foul line. Your routine needs to enable you to be relaxed, confident and focused. Taking three deep breaths before you get to the line can be quite helpful.
2. Practice foul shooting with distractions. Some coaches teach their players to make foul shots with fans screaming and waving towels and banners behind the backboard. They stimulate these conditions in practice. Learning to manage these kinds of stimuli will help make you a better foul shooter.
3. Practice shooting with your eyes closed. This will help you to develop touch, feel and confidence.
4. Try to get your foul shooting to the eighty percent level in practice.
5. Spend some time every day imagining yourself sinking foul shots. If you like, imagine that you are your favorite basketball player who is at the line is an NBA game.
6. If you miss your first free throw, remind yourself that the most important shot is the next one that you are about to take in the game.
7. Cross train for foul shooting by practicing sports like billiards, darts, golf, archery and shooting rifles and pistols. You will be amazed how much this technique helps you with your foul shooting. You need the same mindset in all of these activities. The mental cross training can really help you to become a better foul shooter.
8. Some shooters aim just over the rim. Other aim for the center of the net. Some players like a higher arc than do others. You need to know what your perfect foul shot looks like and feels like.
9. Learn how to place yourself into the zone at the line by mastering self-hypnotic techniques. These methods are described in my books and in my various programs.
Jay P. Granat, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and the founder of
He has written several books and developed several programs to help people perform to their fullest potential at sports, at work and at school. Dr. Granat, a former university professor, has appeared in The New York Times, Good Morning America, AP, ESPN, Golf Digest, The BBC and The CBC. He can be reached at
His books include Zone Tennis and Get Into The Zone In Just One Minute. He is also the author of How To Get Into The Zone With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, How To Lower Your Golf Score With Sport Psychology And Self-Hypnosis, 101 Ways To Break Out Of A Hitting Slump and Bed Time Stories For Young Athletes. Golf Digest named Dr. Granat one of America's Top Ten Mental Gurus. He was recently featured in a documentary film on long distance running. Dr. Granat writes a weekly column for three newspapers. Olympic athletes from Japan recently visited him so that they could learn more about his unique methods for improving performance in sports.
Basketball players who want to learn how to improve their ability to be relaxed, confident and focused should try this program. for more tips

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