• The Ultimate Guide On How To Become a Clutch Free Throw Shooter

    how to become a clutch free throw shooter

    Free throw shots are notoriously difficult.

    In fact, retired NBA player, Shaquille O’Neil is famous for his low free throw shooting percentage.

    (In case you want to know, he finished with a 52.7 percent average.)

    That’s why we’ve created The Ultimate Guide On How To Become A Clutch Free Throw Shooter.

    Our hope for you is that from this guide:

    •  You learn why free throw shots are challenging
    •  What’s considered a good free throw shooting percent average based on your skill level
    • And a handful of useful tips and research that will combat these challenges so you can meet your free throw shooting goal    

    So why is free-throw shooting challenging?

    Free-throw shooting is perhaps the most abnormal aspect of this game.

    For one, you shoot stationary, with no defenders attempting to block your shot.

    Unlike when the ball is in play, all eyes are on you: the crowd’s, your players’, the opponents’, your grandma’s, the boy/girl you’re trying to impress...

    We’re talking an ample amount of pressure.

    While this type of shot may be the most “unnatural,” it’s arguably the most controllable.

    Like we said, there may be more mental pressure on you, but there sure isn’t physical pressure from defenders.

    You have time to take a breath, time to do your free-shooting routine, time to see your target and shoot.

    Why becoming a clutch free-throw shooter matters

    If you can make 3 non-free-throw shots and 3 free-throw shots, you make double digits in the game.

    Assuming these are all 2 point shots, you contribute to your team 12 extra points.

    If a couple of them are 3 pointers, even better!

    12+ points make a noticeable difference.

    Increasing your free throw percentage suddenly turns you into a more dangerous basketball player.

    What’s considered a good free throw shooting percentage?

    NBA players should be making 80% of their free throws...

    A good college level free throw shooter makes at least 75% of his/her free throws.

    A solid high school player, 70% plus.

    If you’re interested in these stats, check out Breakthrough Basketball’s article, How to Improve Free Throw Shooting.

    What Research Shows

    Studies show that, in general, the more skilled the athlete, the greater the movement (i.e.more exaggerated arm extension, exaggerated wrist twist...)

     However, this is only partly true when it comes to shooting a free throw shot because there needs to be a level of constraint.

    In other words, you can’t be overextending your arms at the foul line. There are specific movements you must follow, like bending your elbows at a ninety-degree angle and balancing the ball with your first three fingers, so you can make the free throw shot.

     Go figure.

     Another study found that when throwing free throws, the better free throw shooters had a greater range of motion in their  wrists than elbows.

     Because of this, the movement begins in the elbow and travels to the wrist. This makes it so the coordination between your elbow and wrist is slightly off.

    The study found that the more clutch free throw shooters’ didn’t sync up their wrist and elbow movements. 

    In fact, the research suggests that the more constraint a basketball player applies when coordinating his/her joint movements, the more skilled he/she is. 

    If you’re interested in more studies behind throwing, check this research out.

     Please remember that most studies examine only one variable, maybe two tops.

     So they may not be taking into account height, wingspan, shooting style...

    What we’re trying to say and what the research shows is that generally constraint exercises help with free throw shooting.

    So, do more constraint exercises, like using a heavier ball, that builds muscle memory.

     (For another constraint tool, check out Guarantee3, which adds constraint to your elbow and wrist for a more accurate free throw shot.)

    Useful, Clutch Free Throw Shooting Tips:


    More importantly, practice free throw shooting mentality.

    Imagine the pressure, the eyes, that this shot could win your team the championship.

    The more times you practice this mentality, you easier it will be to handle the pressure.

    And the more clutch you will be.

    To help amp up your free throw shooting mentality, develop your free throw shooting routine.

    Most pros have one.

    Steve Nash licks his fingertips and runs them through his hair before he makes a free throw shot.

    Dirk Nowitzki hums a tune.

    Karl Malone dribbles the ball and mutters words rapidly under his breath.

    And these guys are phenomenal free throw shooters.

    Hop on one foot? Kiss the basketball?

    Who cares. As long as it works for you.

    Create one, and, along with your free throw mentality, practice it over and over and over.

    Until you’ve got it down, and then over again.

    While the mental part is huge, the physicality of free throw shooting is still very important.

    Remember, make sure you stand shoulder width apart at the foul line.

    Make an L-shape with your elbow when you position your free throw shot.

    To have backspin and better control, balance the ball with your thumb, pointer, and middle finger.

    And allow the energy to build from your toes as you bend, and travel to the rest of your body--elbow, then wrist. This will allow greater acceleration.

    Watch basketball God, Michael Jordan, explain these tips more in-depth:



    Did this how-to guide help you become a clutch free throw shooter? Do you have other ideas to add on becoming a clutch free throw shooter?

     Let us know in the comment section below, or on Twitter and/or Facebook.

    Related Posts:

    Top 6 Worst Free Throw Attempts

    How to Become a Clutch Shooter

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