Basketball fans love to play the what-if game. What if Michael Jordan hadn’t retired in 1993? What if Greg Oden didn’t get injured?
Some hypotheticals are more convoluted than others, so how about a straightforward what-if scenario that could have altered the power structure of the NBA in the 1990s.
What if Nick Anderson of the Orlando Magic had made his free throws in Game 1 of the NBA Finals back in 1995? The league could be completely different. Had he buried any of his four foul shot attempts in the final ten seconds, the Magic would have taken the first game in the series against Houston and potentially had the momentum to win the franchise's first and only NBA championship. The likelihood of Shaquille O'Neal leaving in free agency would have dropped significantly, and a dynasty in the shadow of the Magic Kingdom would have been brewing. All of this hinged on foul shooting.
Free throws are some of the easiest points in basketball. They’re also some of the hardest. It’s a mental game trying to score with no one defending you, and the clock stopped, which is why some players are better at it than others. So how can you get better at free throws to a point where the opposing team is scared to foul you at the end of the game?
We’ll show you a few drills you can run with your team, so they’ll be hitting their freebies when it counts.
You don’t want any doubt as to whether or not you’re going to make your free throws. The swish drill is pretty simple: a player starts with five points, and the goal is to get to 10. The rules are as follows: For every swish, the player gets one point. For every made basket that is not a swish, they get zero points. And for every miss, a point is deducted from their score.
This drill is best performed with three players at each basket. Put five minutes on the clock. The first player shoots two free-throws. If he makes both, he doesn’t run. If he misses one, he does an up-and-back sprint. And if he misses two, he runs a full lap all the way around the court. Rotate the players after each two-shot rep.
Split your players up into groups of three at each basket. Each player attempts three foul shots in a row, before rotating out. The goal of the drill is to make a certain number of shots in a row before the time expires. You can decide a number of shots they need to make in a row depending on the age and skill level. For this example, we’ll say they need to make ten in a row. It's a competitive game with your team spread out around the court, so you could have rewards for the first team that connects on ten shots or punishments for the last place team. Either way, it's a great way to simulate in-game pressure during practice.
The One-Handed Free Throw
Use only your shooting hand to shoot the free throw. This drill can also be done with two or three players per basket. Each player gets 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.
Don’t forget to view the free throws you took during a game. Sign up for Krossover for a free one-game demo today!