Basketball – Potential Problems That Can Lead to Poor Free Throw Shooting

One of the all time secrets in the soda pop industry is the Coca-Cola recipe. Its probably sold billions of bottles and cans of Coke due to this recipe and subsequently that appealing taste. The ingredients may not be very healthy but the taste does have sizzle. What has this got to do with basketball and free throw shooting. Well, we all know for sure that it is NO secret that the simple skill of free throw shooting is mediocre at best, In fact this mediocrity spans epidemic proportions.

There are many reasons for this mediocrity of the masses. One main reason being that when the game came into being they shot a basketball that had leather sections and seams that were stitched by hand. Imagine catching and shooting that ball with different and irregular feelings on the palm and fingers.

Not having to account for any ball irregularities is a huge plus. Imagine what the percentages would be if our pros today had to shoot with those antiquated basketballs. We still shoot considerably bad (70% is bad in my book) with modern high tech basketballs.

Anyhow, listed below you will find a list of physical flawed shooting actions that can lead to numerous shooting problems that continue to plague the globe. The key to great shooting is to minimize any extra movement that compromises correct scientific shooting principles or natural laws, like gravity or Newton’s law that said “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.

It is hard for me to believe that a simple movement like a free throw can have so many possible problems. The way to diagnose the problems are to study the end result of the shot. Like using forensics to trace a killer. Was the shot short, long, off center, way left or just inside right, too flat or even too high?

An errant shot is like a crime being committed and under immediate investigation we backtrack and look for the culprit which could be one of the following killers responsible for the dead shot.

1. Is the ball arc on my shot too flat? (Always shoot ‘up’ and then ‘at’ the basket).

2. Does my shot have a side wards spin or rotation? (Usually the guide hands fault).

3. Does my shot rotate too fast, (fingers snap too fast) too slow or not at all?(usually the fault of the guide hand thumb).

4. Do I watch the ball in flight after I release the ball? (I should because it helps study rotation and you can see the whole picture better).

5. Do I watch the rim throughout the whole shot? (I lose the whole picture plus I don’t know where the ball is going to bounce if I miss. Good to read your rebound).

6. Why does my ball rebound so far on a missed shot? ( Arc of ball is too flat)

7. What causes my shot to go too far right or left? (Too far to the right, usually the last 3 fingers doing the shooting. Too far to the left elbow is out and follow through wrist at an angle. A definite scientific breakdown).

8. Does my ‘shot pocket’ start too far from the center of my face? (Ideal ‘shot pocket’ should be 2″ above the forehead and between the eyes).

9. Is my original ‘shot pocket’ from the belly, chin or face area? (This is a result of age and lack of strength).

10. Do I ‘pause’ just before I release the ball on my jump shot? (You should).

11. Do I jump, pause and shoot or do I just shoot as I jump? ( To be able to jump, pause and shoot with correct timing requires physical strength to do so. Many youngsters usually under 12 years of age lack this strength needed).

12. Is my follow through too flat or too high? (Lock in at between 45 and 50 degrees)

13. On the follow through do I pull my wrist back like the kick back on a shotgun? ( Lock and leave). 14. Do my fingers point to the floor after the follow through? Hand in Cookie jar principle. (Bent knuckles mean excess movement and

causes errors).

15. Does my shooting arm move inward towards my body center line? (Never allow any lateral movement of any part of shooting mechanism.)

16. Are my fingers wide before, during and after the shot? ( Fingers never come together.(They are natural enemies during shooting and defense only)

17. Is my index finger not lined up with the center of the ball?)Form 90 degrees with seams)

18. Is my elbow joint directly under the center of the ball in the shooting pocket? Millions don’t do this due to physical constraints, muscle size etc. (You can start wide but elbow must come under center of ball prior to release. If

not you have a flying elbow).

19. Do I lock my elbow on the follow through and leave it there till ball hits rim? (At least from FT line out).

20. Am I aware of which finger touches the ball last? (Should be index).

21. Do my both hands touch the ball during the actual release? (One hand only).

22. Does the ball sit on the palm of my hand as I prepare to shoot? ( NO palm, just the pads on the fingers and one on thumb).

23. Is the ‘guide’ hand on top or below the ball prior to release? ( Must be on side or 90 degrees to shooting thumb).

24. Do I bend my knees and then bring the ball up to the shot pocket? (Bring the ball to the shot pocket and then bend the knees for better timing).

25. Do I bring the ball above or behind the head? (Should be in front center of forehead about 2″ above the eyes).

26. On my follow through again, does my pinky lead the way of all the fingers pointing to the floor? (No fingers bend at the knuckles. They all point to the rim except thumb).

27. Do I shoot too quickly. (Add time with increments of eye blinks).

28. During the life cycle of the shot am I thinking of making the basket? (Must forever think of your weakest point in your shooting mechanism and concentrate on that so it does not breakdown. Never, ever think of making the basket,


29. On the follow through, does my shooting hand form a ‘ball after the shot’ that looks like an armadillo, Hand should be wide so you can measure accountability for misbehaved fingers.)

30. Do I move my hand on the ball as I catch it, looking for a comfortable feeling? (Learn to catch the ball from a pass or off a dribble where you don’t have to move your hand at all. Shooting hand and guide hand should be 90 degrees to each other and ready to catch and shoot always).