Irregardless of whether or not recent research shows that free throw percentages have not increased over time, I still think that dedicating a certain amount of practice time to free-throw shooting is important. In so much as it has a negligible affect on your team's free-throw percentage, free-throws are more about establishing a routine such that players can rely on that routine despite the incredible pressure and anxiety they may experience at the end of the game with the game hanging in the balance.

Here are some general tips from some notes I have from Mike Dunlap:

1. Legs - you shoot with your legs (ie. every shot finished with player on tip toes).
2. Follow Through - elbow points to rim and hold gooseneck for count of at least 2 everytime.
3. Eyes - on target at all times

1. Breathing - teach your players that breathing is an important vehicle in relaxation
2. Visualization - the player should see himself making the shot before he steps to the line.

- get a system that you can incoporate into your daily practice.
- practice time allotment to freethrows must remain consistent.
- make a big deal out of freethrows

1. 5 point game
a) 5 points for a swish (no rim)
b) 4 points when the ball hits any part of the rim
c) 3 points when the ball hits both sides of the rim
d) 2 points when the ball hits rim three times, rattles, etc..
e) 1 point when the ball rolls around the rim or hits backboard
f) 0 points for a miss

2. The lap game
a) Divide your team into 2, 3, 4, etc.. groups
b) Each player gets one shot
c) If the first player makes his shot and the second player misses, then the player who misses must spring a lap
d) If the first 2 players make their shots but the third misses then he runs 2 laps... and so forth
* A good game because pressure steadily increases on the players as shots are made.

3. The basket game
Each player must make a freethrow at each basket in the gym consecutively or he must start over (ie. you can name any number you want).
* Breaks the routine of the shooter and forces the players to adjust.

If you like Mike Dunlap, then take a look at a DVD he co-created with Pete Newell on Big Man Skill Development. Coach Dunlap was formerly head coach at Metro State and is now an assistant with the University of Oregon.


  1. Antonio Barrote  

    July 22, 2009 at 8:50 AM


    A good drill we've been using at the end of practices. It's called "91":

    a) divide your team into 2 or more groups
    b) each player gets one shot and then goes to the end of the same line
    c) add one point to every shot made in a row (first made shot gets one point, second gets two, etc)
    d) on a miss, the group keeps the score but the points awarded for made FT go back to one

    The team that reaches 91 points first wins the competition.

    This teaches concentration and shooting FT under pressure and it's a great competitive drill to end your practices on a good note.