bob fisher free throw basketball

How To Shoot a Free Throw

Words: Megan Michelson

Take it from the guy who holds multiple free throw World Records, it is possible to use science to master the free throw

Bob Fisher currently holds over a dozen World Record for free throws, including most free throws in an hour (2,371) and most free throws in a minute (52). He’s not a professional basketball player. Far from it. He’s a 58-year-old soil technician who lives in Kansas and has invested thousands of hours in his quest to find the perfect shot. If you want to master the free throw, Bob is your guy. He teaches players and coaches his new physics-based approach, which customize motions for each player and promises more balls in the basket.

1 Step Up

“As you step to the line, clear your mind as much as possible and direct your focus to the job at hand, which is to shoot a free throw. It’s important to focus on the process and not the outcome. Studies have shown that focussing on only one or two key elements is optimal. Take a deep breath to calm your body.”

© YouTube / Rusty Glusing

2 Take a Relaxed Stance

“Whether you prefer a staggered stance, a square stance, or a reverse-staggered stance (shooting foot back) is a matter of personal preference. What is really important is the release. Use the stance that most helps you nail the release.”

3 Embrace Routine

“There was a study done in the NBA about free throw routines and they summarized that players with routines shoot a higher free throw percentage than players with no routines. Taking two or three dribbles is helpful in loosening your wrist muscles. Also, dribbling can be used to lock in your focus on how the ball should leave your fingertips. Rehearsing the shooting motion, as Steve Nash did, is a helpful practice. Routines can help lower the tension of the moment.”

Basketball hoop as seen from the top of the free throw key

You and the hoop. The hoop and you. The rest is silence

© Getty Images

4 Generate Force

“Another study dispelled the notion that it’s ‘all in the legs.’ According to that study, the free throw is powered primarily by the upper body, with the wrist being the largest contributor of force. As you finish your last dribble and the ball comes up in your hand, control the basketball. There are many great shooters in the NBA who are palm shooters. The ball comes off your fingertips and will have backspin regardless of whether it starts in your palm or not. Main point to remember? Control the ball.”

5 Pop Goes the Ball

“Bend your legs slightly to load your ankles. As your arm extends and flows into the snap of your wrist, you are popping up on your toes. The wrist snap finalizes the shot and the ball leaves your fingertips. Instead of all the focus being on the basket and follow-through, the physics-based approach switches the focus to the ball. Specifically, where and how you are applying force through the ball at the moment of release. That is what is most important and that is what is going to determine whether you make the shot or not.”

6 Experiment

“Shooting is an optimization process. We all have individual differences—range of motion, finger lengths—that may impact what works best. Don’t be afraid to experiment. It will enhance the learning process and what you find might amaze you.”

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12 2015 The Red Bulletin

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