One of the all-time secrets in the soda industry is the Coca-Cola recipe. It probably sold billions of bottles and cans of Coca-Cola because of this recipe, and subsequently that appealing taste. The ingredients may not be very healthy, but the flavor has sizzle. What does this have to do with basketball and free throws? Well, we all know for a fact that it’s NO secret that simple free kick shooting skills are mediocre at best. In fact, this mediocrity reaches epidemic proportions.
There are many reasons for this mediocrity of the masses. One of the main reasons is that when the game was created, they shot a basketball that had sections of leather and hand-stitched seams. Imagine catching and shooting that ball with different and irregular sensations in your palm and fingers.
Not having to account for irregularities on the ball is a huge advantage. Imagine what the percentages would be if our professionals today had to shoot with those old-fashioned basketballs. We still shoot considerably poorly (70% is bad in my book) with modern high-tech basketballs.
Regardless, below is a list of physical faulty shooting actions that can lead to the numerous shooting issues that continue to plague the world. The key to shooting well is to minimize any additional movement that compromises correct scientific shooting principles or natural laws, such as gravity or Newton’s law that said “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
I find it hard to believe that a simple move like a free kick can have so many potential problems. The way to diagnose problems is to study the final result of the shot. Like using forensic science to track down a killer. Was the shot short, long, off center, too left or just inside right, too flat or even too high?
A errant shot is like a crime in progress and under immediate investigation we go back and search for the culprit, who could be one of the next killers responsible for the fatal shot.
1. Is the arc of the ball on my shot too flat? (Always shoot ‘up’ and then ‘to’ the basket.)
2. Does my shot have a spin or lateral rotation? (Usually the failure of the guiding hands.)
3. Is my shot spinning too fast (fingers snap too fast), too slow, or not spinning at all? (usually the thumb of the lead hand is the fault).
4. Do I see the ball in flight after I release it? (It should because it helps to study rotation and you can see the whole picture better.)
5. Do I look at the hoop during the entire shot? (I lose the whole picture and also I don’t know where the ball will bounce if I miss. It’s good to read your bounce.)
6. Why does my ball bounce so far on a missed shot? (The arc of the ball is too flat)
7. What causes my shot to go too far to the right or left? (Too far to the right, usually the last 3 fingers are the shooters. Too far to the left, the elbow is out and follows through the wrist at an angle. A definitive scientific breakdown.)
8. Does my ‘shot pocket’ start too far from the center of my face? (The ideal ‘shot pocket’ should be 2″ above the forehead and between the eyes.)
9. Is my original ‘shot pocket’ from the tummy, chin or face area? (This is the result of age and lack of strength).
10. Do I ‘pause’ just before I release the ball on my jump shot? (Should).
11. Will I jump, stop and shoot or just shoot while jumping? (To be able to jump, pause, and shoot with the correct timing requires physical strength to do so. Many youngsters, usually under the age of 12, lack this necessary strength.)
12. Is my tracking too flat or too high? (Lock between 45 and 50 degrees)
13. On the follow-through, do I pull my wrist back like a shotgun kick? (Lock and exit). 14. Do my fingers point to the ground after the follow-through? Beginning of the hand in the cookie jar. (Bent knuckles signify excess movement and
15. Does my shooting arm move in toward the center line of my body? (Never allow any sideways movement of any part of the firing mechanism.)
16. Do I have open fingers before, during and after the injection? (Fingers never come together. (They are natural enemies only during shooting and defense)
17. Is my index finger not aligned with the center of the ball?) It forms 90 degrees with seams)
18. Is my elbow joint directly below the center of the ball in the shooting pocket? Millions don’t do this due to physical restrictions, muscle size, etc. (May start open, but elbow must pass below center of ball before throw. If
you don’t have a flying elbow).
19. Do I lock my elbow on the follow through and hold it there until the ball hits the rim? (At least from the FT line).
20. Am I aware of which finger touches the ball last? (Must be index).
21. Do both my hands touch the ball during the actual pitch? (Only one hand).
22. Does the ball sit in the palm of my hand as I prepare to shoot? (NOT palm, just fingertips and one on thumb).
23. Is the ‘lead’ hand above or below the ball prior to the release? (Must be sideways or 90 degrees to fire thumb).
24. Do I bend my knees and then take the ball to the pocket? (Take the ball to the shot pocket and then bend your knees for better timing.)
25. Do I carry the ball above or behind my head? (Should be in the center of the forehead about 2″ above the eyes).
26. On my follow through again, does my little finger mark the path of all the fingers pointing to the ground? (No fingers are bent at the knuckles. All point to the edge except the thumb.)
27. Do I shoot too fast? (Add time with blink increments.)
28. During the life cycle of the shot am I thinking about making the basket? (You should always think about your weakest point in your shooting mechanism and focus on that so it doesn’t break down. Never, ever think about shooting the basket,
29. On follow up, does my shooting hand form a ‘ball after shot’ that looks like an armadillo? The hand should be wide so that you can measure responsibility for fingers that misbehave).
30. Do I move my hand over the ball as I catch it, looking for a comfortable feel? (Learn to catch the ball from a pass or dribble where you don’t have to move your hand at all. Your shooting hand and lead hand should be at 90 degrees to each other and ready to catch and shoot every time.)