Sink More Basketball Foul Shot Attempts

Great free throw shooters step up to the basketball foul shot line with confidence. 

Why are they so sure of themselves? And why do they seem to welcome the pressure-filled situation that many other players hope to avoid?

basketball foul shot

Because they have created a habit of doing the little things. A habit that leads to their success.

There's no doubt they have mastered good shooting form. Technique is certainly important. But when it comes to basketball free throws, shooting mechanics are just one piece.

They have also developed a consistent free throw routine, incorporating 12 simple tips, that makes their shot automatic. Learn why a free throw routine is so important.

Every time they step up to the line, they do the same thing. They perform a ritual that allows them to relax, focus, and shoot the ball with confidence.


On November 15, 1993 a 72-year-old retired physician stepped up to the free throw line and set a Guinness World Record by hitting 2,750 free throws in a row!

The amazing feat took him 12 hours and ended, not because he missed a shot, but because the gym had to close for the night.

Would you like to know the secrets of the "best free throw shooter ever to touch a basketball?"

Then you need to check out his book. I have it in my collection of coaching books and have referred to it often throughout the years.

NBA and former Duke player, J.J. Reddick, is an outstanding basketball free throw shooter. Check out his routine on the video below and see how he incorporates these tips. The video may seem a bit dated but the tips are timeless.


You, too, can learn how to shoot a basketball foul shot with the best of them using the tips below. 

12 Key Elements of a Basketball Foul Shot 

1. Develop a breathing sequence

Take at least one deep breath to relax your muscles. When you step up to the line, you're probably going to be winded, and if you can't catch your breath, it's going to be really hard for you to focus on anything else. 

2. Say a positive phrase to yourself

Be excited about the chance to get to the line and score points for your team. Make your opponent pay for fouling you! While you're saying positive statements to yourself, it's impossible to think negative thoughts.

3. Position feet on FT line at same place every time

Look down and find the center spot to line up your shooting foot. Place your lead foot at the same spot for every shot.

4. See ball going in before you shoot

The mind is an amazing thing. It will try to recreate what it sees. See yourself shoot the ball with perfect form and watch it travel with perfect arc through the air before it drops through the bottom of the net. 

5. Physically rehearse shot before ref hands you ball 

Focus on your basketball shooting technique, shooting rhythm, and follow through. Just like a baseball player or golfer takes a practice swing, you can take a practice shot without the ball. Notice how each part of your body feels as it completes perfect form. 

6. Bend or bounce your knees

As you perform your routine, keep at least a slight bend in your knees. This helps you get settled in, relaxed, loose, and comfortable.

7. Bounce ball a set number of times

It doesn't matter how many times you bounce it. Just do it the same way every time. Watch the ball as you bounce it and focus on the sound of the bounce. By listening for the bounce, you are tuning out distracting noises around you.

8. Hold ball same way every time

Look at the ball and find the seams or the inflation hole. Use them as a point of reference and place your fingers on the ball the same way every time.

9. Set ball in shot pocket & think about your body alignment

Get your elbow in, relax, and have the same amount of bend in your knees every time. Line up your shooting foot, knee, elbow, shoulder, and shooting eye. Visualize everything moving along the same line.

10. Concentrate on basket

Keep your eyes focused on the rim until you release the ball. Don't pay any attention to fans in the stands or your opponents. Keep your eyes on your target.

11. Release shot with nice high arc

Extend your shooting arm in a smooth motion. Hold your follow through until the ball goes in.

12. Take your time

There's no need to rush or feel hurried when taking a basketball foul shot. You have 10 seconds to shoot the ball. That's a long time.

By talking to yourself and keeping your eyes fixed on the ball and the rim, you are ignoring outside distractions. Your mind is focused on positive, productive activities that will ensure good shooting technique and a successful basketball foul shot. 

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