2 Drills to Improve Your Free Throw Shooting

Improve your free throw shooting percentage this year with two drills to refine your free throw technique.

Tim Duncan Free Throw
Constant repetition and free throw drills are the only ways to improve free throw shooting. A free throw is an easy shot, but the pressure of a game situation can make it difficult. Basketball players need to learn to focus and handle pressure at the free throw line.

Free throw shooting drills should be performed at the end of practice, after you've exerted a lot of energy and are fatigued. But also, inserting them randomly in the middle of a practice session creates a game-like feel, reminiscent of free throws late in the fourth quarter (or the second half of a college game), which can occur unexpectedly when you're exhausted.

Every great free throw shooter has a pre-shot routine, often involving bouncing the ball a few times, spinning it with the opposite hand or taking deep breaths. Such pre-shot habits can help you relax and focus on the attempt, build your confidence and relieve pressure. Developing a pre-shot routine also helps you practice shooting your shot the exact same way every time.

Improve your free throw shooting with the following two drills:

The One-and-One

For this drill, divide the team among different baskets with 2 or 3 players per basket.

Set up a game-time one-and-one situation, where you have to make the first free throw to shoot the second. If you miss the first shot, you have to run a lap around the gym. If you miss the second shot, take another lap. The consequence of missing a shot trains players to shoot free throws under pressure.

One-Handed Free Throw

Use only your shooting hand to shoot the free throw. This drill can also be done with 2 or 3 players per basket. Each player get two shots before rotating to the next shooter. There are no consequences for missed shots. This free throw drill simply focuses on technique. During this drill, concentrate on your shooting mechanics, specifically elbow under the ball, proper grip on the ball and eyes focused on the back cylinder of the rim.

While you're working on your free throw technique, don't forget about your mental game. Learn more about how you can improve your mental toughness and focus as a basketball player.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock