PAGE TRANSLATES INTO EIGHT LANGUAGES!
| Taken from FREE THROW: 7 STEPS TO SUCCESS AT THE FREE
THROW LINE by Dr. Tom Amberry (HarperPerennial Publishers, New York). Written
by one of the world's best free throw shooters.
* The mechanics of free throw shooting can be learned. Combine proper mechanics with focus and concentration and you will be astounded at what you can achieve.
* I believe the poor free throw shooting in the NBA and NCAA is the result of two things: poor mechanics and an inability of the players to congtrol their mental game. I am firmly convinced that the only thing limiting you is yourself....we are more limited by our beliefs than our ability. The obstacles to success exist more in your mind than in the physical world.
* Improving your free throws will improve your three-point accuracy, develop your "shooter's touch," and boost your total game confidence.
* If the other team finds you can't shoot from the line, you'll be there all night. They won't let you shoot from the floor.
* Once you master the basic mechanics, the rest of free throw competition is mental.. the mental side of sports is voodoo to most athletes...but to be a real champion, you have to master the mental side, just as you have the physical side.
* One day I was thinking of the importance of repetition in free throw shooting. You have to do everything the same way every time...I realized what the only universal element is on a basketball--the little round rubber inflation hole. I decided I would put my thumb in the "channel," or groove, so that my middle finger was pointed straight at the inflation hole....I found that the small act of looking at the inflation hole held my attention in one place for the length of time it took to shoot a free throw. I called this state of mine "focus and concentration".
* If a player has his or her elbow stuck out, I get him to bring it in close. Sometimes I tell them, "Rub your side raw with your shooting elbow."
* A free throw shooting ritual is valuable for several reasons. It gives you something to focus on other than the pressure you are under. Instead of thinking about the score or the number of fouls you have, or the time on the clock, focus on the steps in your ritual.
* How long will it take for my method of free throw shooting to feel comfortable? It depends on how much you practice and how deeply you commit to adopting this method.
* Do you want to remain comfortable with the wrong mechanics and a low free throw percentage? Or are you will to be uncomfortable--for a short period of time--with the right mechanics, to eventually improve?
* The Amberry Method: Step 1: Feet Square to the line. Step 2: Bounce the ball three times with the inflation hole up. Step 3: Put your thumb in the channel, your third finger pointing at the inflation hole. Step 4: Elbow in. Step 5: Bend your knees. Step 6: Eyes on the Target. Step 7: Shoot and follow through.
* A good free throw shooter has his or her weight forward on the balls of the feet. The body should be leaning toward the basket in a balanced, active stance.
* No matter how much I've tried to mechanize the shooting process, it ultimately comes down to a sense of feel... Put your thunb in the "channel" or groove in such a way that your third finger is pointed at the inflation hole. Now don't move your hand again. Don't slide your hand around or spin the ball.
* With the correct release from your fingertips and thumb, the rotation will automatically be added to the shot. This rotation can make the difference between shooting a basket and throwing up a brick.
* Of all the steps I recommend, bringing the elbow in feels the most unnatural to many players. But it is also the most important of all the free throw shooting mechanics.
* Bending your legs--the same amount each time--will give your shot just the right distance. Then your arm can guide the ball into the basket...when shooting, we tend to forget the legs and overemphasize the arm, hand, and fingertips. That's because the ball is in our hands. We feel it with our fingers. But the shot is actually a series of linked actions that move from the ground up.
* There is another good reason to originate the shot from the legs. The big leg muscles are more reliable when you get jitters on the line when shooting a clutch free throw.
* How deeply should you bend the legs? You have to experiment. But it will probably be a little more than you think. Bend the legs enough so your arm feels as if it isn't doing any work at all.
* Before you shoot the ball, tell your body you are not going to watch
the ball in flight..
* I have told you to bend your knees, then look up at the target. You might feel that I'm not allowing enough time to look at the target before you shoot. This is the whole idea. You don't want to look at the target too long before shooting. In fact, you want to shoot while that first image of the basket is flashing onto the screen of your brain. This keeps you from thinking. At this moment "thinking" is the worst thing you could do.
* The follow-through is important because it has a strong influence on what comes just before it--the release. If you begin and continue a shot, even when the bgall is on its way, you'll guarantee the best arc, backspin and touch. Some coaches even recommend holding your follow-through for one full second after the ball is on the way.
* The easiest way to describe the off-hand is to compare it to a tee in golf. It holds the ball in the right position until the moment that the club strikes it. The tee wouldn't be doing its job if it held the ball in different places or moved it around. In basketball its the same way. You want stability and consistency from the off-hand.
* When looking for the proper arc, you should examine the movements that cause the arc rather than directly trying to control the angle at which the ball leaves your hand. The arc comes from three factors: the power from the legs, the angle of the shooting arm, and the mental concept you hold of the flight of the shot.
* My experience has shown me that, as you practice, your arc should be a little higher than you think it needs to be. This would probably be a medium arc of between 35 and 45 degrees. A medium arc allows for better control and closely matches the natural shooting style of most players.
* Rick Barry says that too many players think about shooting "at" the basket. Then, the ball isn't shot, it's pushed. The ball is often short and hits the front of the rim. Instead, he thinks of shooting "up to" the basket.
* While we are capable of many thoughts in rapid succession, we can only have one thought in our conscious mind at a time. Make that thought negative and you are paving the way to failure. But make that one conscious thought positive and you have greatly increased your chances of succeeding. In the final seconds of a game, when you go to the line with two free throws to win or tie, that single conscious thought must be positive.
* The need to maintain a positive attitude was also recognized by the great golf instructor Havey Penick. He said he always avoided using the word don't when he was giving lessons. Instead he flipped the sentence around to state things positively. He wouldn't say, "Don't bend the left arm." He would suggest, "If you keep the left arm straight your distance and accuracy will improve." (Ed. Note: This should be a lesson for basketball coaches in all of their coaching).
* If you want to sink a free throw under pressure, you have to be in control of your mind, in the same way you have learned to control your muscles.
* Remember your ritual...Feet square to the line. Bounce the ball three times. Thumb in the channel. Elbow in. Bend the knees. Eye on the target. Shoot and follow through.
* Building your powers of concentration--learning to focus and concentrate--is something you have to work on with as much determination as your shooting mechanics.
* There are a few practical steps to use as you get ready to take your free throws. Train yourself to have confident thoughts as soon as you're fouled...Walk slowly to the line to begin the deliberate--but relaxed--rhythm that promotes good free throw shooting...Concentrate on breathing deeply and evenly to reduce tension...Get in position at the line only when you are ready to shoot...Don't stare at the hoop, you know where it is.
* Remember that you have trained yourself not to watch the ball in flight. Instead, your eyes remain comfortably fixed on the space above the basket.
* Your practice should be built around setting goals and measuring your improvement. As you improve, your motivation will rise.
* The old _expression "Practice makes perfect" is only partly true. You can practice all you like, but if your methods are flawed, you won't get any better. Instead, you will imprint harmful patterns more deeply. This is why I prefer, "Perfect practice makes perfect."
* My recommendation for most high school and college players is to shoot 100 free throws a day. Does this sound unrealistic? Then I have to ask you: How good do you want to be?
* If you practice and stay focused for the entire time, your efforts should result in a 90 percent free throw average in games.
* One essential aspect of free throw practice is to keep score. Keeping track of your results will document your improvement.
* When you are starting out, shoot your 100 free throws in sets of 10. After 10, step away from the line and write down how many you made. As you improve, and your sets of 10 include fewer misses, you may not need to write down the results. All you need o know is how many sets you've done.