13 Basketball Free Throw Shooting Tips

Excellent basketball free throw shooters all share one thing in common...

basketball free throw

A consistent free throw routine.

Every time they step up to the line, they do the same thing. They perform a ritual that allows them to relax, focus, and shoot the ball with confidence.

You too can learn how to shoot a basketball foul shot with the best of them with these simple basketball tips.

There's no doubt that good shooting form is important, but when it comes to basketball free throws, shooting technique is just the beginning.

Learn why a free throw routine is so important

On November 15, 1993 a 72-year-old retired physician stepped up to the free throw line and set a Guiness World Record by hitting 2,750 free throws in a row!

The amazing feat took him 12 hours and ended, not because he missed a shot, but because the gym had to close for the night.

Would you like to know the secrets of the "best free throw shooter ever to touch a basketball?"

Then you need to check out his book. I have it in my collection of coaching books and have referred to it often throughout the years.

In 2003, the Dallas Mavericks set an NBA record of 49 straight free throws in a playoff game!

Learn the basketball tips that Dallas Mavericks Shooting Coach, Gary Boren, uses with his NBA players.

Basketball Free Throw Tips
Key Elements of Your Free Throw Routine

Every player needs to come up with their own individual, unique basketball free throw routine. And though every player's will be different, they all should include the following elements.

NBA and former Duke player, J.J. Reddick, is an outstanding basketball free throw shooter. Check out his routine on the video below and see how he incorporates these tips.


Develop a breathing sequence - Take at least one deep breath to relax your muscles. 

Say a positive phrase to yourself - Be excited about the chance to get to the line, make points for your team, and make your opponent pay for fouling you! When you are saying positive statements to yourself, it's impossible to think negative thoughts.

Position your feet on the free throw line exactly the same way every time - Look down at the line and find the center spot to line up your shooting foot.

Take a look at the rim and see the ball going in before you shoot - The mind is an amazing thing. It will try to recreate what it sees. Visualize the ball dropping through the hoop. 

Physically rehearse your shot before the official hands you the ball - Focus on your basketball shooting technique, shooting rhythm, and follow through. Watch the ball go through the hole as you release it in your mind.

basketball free throw

Bend or bounce your knees - This helps you get settled in, relaxed, loose, and comfortable.

Bounce the ball a set number of times - It doesn't matter how many times you bounce it. Just do it the same way every time. Watch the ball as you bounce it and focus on the sound of the bounce. By listening for the bounce, you are tuning out distracting noises around you.

Hold the ball the exact same way every time - Look at the ball and find the seams or the inflation hole. Use them as a point of reference and place your fingers on the ball the same way every time.

Set the ball in the shooting pocket and think about your body alignment - Get your elbow in, relax, and have the same amount of bend in your knees every time. Line up your shooting foot, knee, elbow, shoulder, and shooting eye. 

Concentrate on the basket - Keep your eyes focused on the rim until you release the ball.

Don't pay any attention to fans in the stands or your opponents. Keep your eyes on your target.

See yourself shooting the ball from start to finish - See yourself shoot the ball with perfect form and watch it travel with perfect arc through the air before it drops right through the center of the basket.

Release the shot with a nice high arc, extending your shooting arm in a smooth motion - Hold your follow through until the ball goes in.

Take your time - There is no need to rush or feel hurried. You have 10 seconds to shoot the ball, and that's a long time. By talking to yourself and keeping your eyes fixed on the ball and the rim, you are ignoring outside distractions. Your mind is focused on positive, productive activities that will ensure good shooting technique and a successful basketball free throw. 

If you need some help with positive statements to say to yourself, check out our sports motivational quotes about building confidence.

The mind is such a powerful instrument, and it plays a huge role in whether we succeed or fail in just about anything. We can all use some positive thinking to help us reach our goals.

When you step up to the line, you need to have the benefit of good basketball conditioning. If you can't catch your breath, it's going to be really hard for you to focus on anything else.

The best way to practice your basketball shooting technique is with fun basketball shooting drills specifically for free throws.

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