Games are won and lost because of free throw shooting but not when you think. The points lost during the game because of poor shooting are the difference between leading and struggling to win. The critical free throws aren’t at the end of the game and yelling “bend your knees” isn’t going to make a weak free throw shooter sink the winning points. Practice makes you a better free throw shooter. Practice, practice, practice.
Start by seeing free throws as points, not extra points, but more points and every point is important. Free throws are the completion of a good play not some special bonus that really doesn’t matter. There is more attention on making free throws because play has stopped and everyone is watching but, for a good free throw shooter, there is no pressure. Good shooters are confident in their ability to make free throws in all situations. Be a good free throw shooter.
When you are awarded free throws:
Take several deep breaths and slow your heart rate as soon as the whistle blows*
Line up your foot, hip, elbow, shoulder and shooting hand with the basket
Find the seams of the ball for good rotation
Inhale deeply in the pre-phase of your shot
Exhale gently on the release
Don’t hold your breath
Follow through completely
Shooting rituals: Learn and use target acquisition and visualization (see the basket and see the ball going through it) rather than creating habits that do not aid in shot completion like flipping the ball around your back, bouncing it in specific patterns or other hand gestures.
After every shooting drill, before drinking water or resting, make 5 free throws. Make 50 free throw every practice.
*This applies whether you are shooting or not