In shooting free throws, develop a ritual where you do it the same exact way every time.
Position yourself on the line the same way every time. Bounce the ball the same number of times every time, and take a deep breath before shooting every time. This creates muscle and mind memory, and allows you to be successful more often. Success creates confidence, and confidence creates better, more relaxed shooting.
See Learning How to Shoot.
1. Line up with your right toes just to the left of center so that your right arm and ball are lined up with the basket. Place the left foot back just a little. Shoulders should be square to the basket, or if you are more comfortable, you can turn the shooting side a little toward the basket.
2. Put your weight forward on your toes, but keep your back straight… don’t lean forward. Keeping your back straight will keep you from stepping over the line. Bend a little at the knees. Your legs will provide the power with an “up motion”.
Alternatively, some players find it more natural if they first stand up with knees straight, but then initiate the shooting motion by dipping down and bending the knees, and then straightening them as they go up for the shot… a “down then up” motion.
3. Focus on the basket… don’t look at the ball or the flight of the ball.
4. Shoot with your right hand (right-handed players), and just use the left hand to help balance the ball. Release the ball from your fingertips to get good backspin (rotation) on the ball.
5. Take the deep breath, and shoot. Use your legs for power and come up on your toes as you release the ball. If your back is straight, you won’t cross the line or lunge forward. If you need more power, it’s OK to jump a little on your release.
6. Follow-through. Keep looking at the basket and hold your shooting hand in the “gooseneck”, follow-through position until the ball goes through the net.
Make ’em pay attitude. Think and say to yourself “net” or “swish” before each shot… to focus on the ball going through the net. Be confident… this comes from success, and hours of practice! Don’t let a missed free throw ruin your confidence.
If you miss one, just quickly analyze the miss and correct it. For example, if your shot was long, next one use less leg power, or use more arc. Too short, use more leg power. Off line, reposition yourself on the line, follow-through with index finger pointing at the target.
You won’t make them all, so expect to miss a few, and don’t let it bother you when it happens. The most important free throw is the next one, not the last one!