Thursday, January 15, 2009

Three keys to shooting free throws

Good post by Hall of Famer Rick Barry on about Jose Calderon's FT shooting technique.

Calderon has made 79 consecutive free throws, just three shy of Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf's streak of 82 straight.

Micheal Williams, who played for me in the CBA, hit 97 in a row, the NBA's all-time record.

Barry contends that fans don't "appreciate how difficult it is to sustain this type of excellence for a prolonged period of time."

The pursuit of Williams' record is a reflection of remarkable consistency by Calderon. To be this consistent with your shot, time after time after time, is extremely impressive. This consistency demonstrates a level of perfection to the highest degree possible and indicates a high level of confidence in his ability to make free throws.

According to Barry, Calderon's success can be traced to "technique, confidence, routine and a little luck."

Technique: "First, he gets his hand set properly under the ball. Then he shoots the ball "up," not "at" the basket. He also has a great follow through on his release. Rarely, if ever, will the ball miss to the left or to the right. Great shooters miss a hair long or a hair short. Missing left or right indicates a problem with the shooting form."

Confidence: "I'm sure Jose believes he's going to make every free throw he shoots. I know I did when I made 60 in a row, which was then a league record. There isn't any pressure when you have confidence. When your confidence wavers, that's when you start feeling pressure. Pressure only exists if you allow it to exist."

Routine: "All great free-throw shooters have a consistent routine. Basically, they do the same thing every single time they shoot. They program themselves to the point that once the ball is handed to them at the free-throw line, whatever was in their mind goes away. The routine takes over immediately. The entire focus and concentration is on the routine, which has been repeated thousands of times. Having a consistent routine has allowed Jose to put together this outstanding string."

Jose's routine goes like this: Before receiving the ball, he'll spread his arms to the side, as if he's stretching them, loosening them up. Once he gets the ball, he takes a deep breath and then dribbles three times before focusing on the basket and releasing the ball.