Shooting a free throw is a multi-step process which combines both technique and practice to produce a game winning foul shot.
How often do you see a free throw on Sports Center? Can you remember the time when a shot from the "charity stripe" has made an arena go wild? Most likely not. The highlight reel is usually reserved for the soaring dunks, the three pointers from downtown, or the crazy no-look pass. What most people don't realize is that the free throw is the most important aspect simply because it can make or break the game.
I. The first step to shooting a successful free throw is to have your body square to the basket.
A. The positioning of the feet, or the stance, varies from player to player.
i. Some players prefer to have both feet even on the foul line.
ii. Other players like to offset their stance to create more of a straight line with the shot.
B. Keeping the shoulders square also helps to keep the shot straight.
II. The next step in making free throws consistently is the pre-shot ritual and grip on the ball.
A. The pre-shot ritual what the player does EVERY time he/she steps to the line.
i. Some people have a lengthy pre-shot ritual maybe consisting of a spin, several bounces, and occasionally some ridiculous hand or face gesture with special meaning (Jason Kidd).
ii. Some players will simply catch the ball from the referee and shoot the shot immediately to take away from the mental pressure of the shot (Matt Sayman).
B. The grip on the ball is generally the same with the fingertips lining up along the seams of the ball to create a perfect backspin.
III. The final step in perfecting your free throw...