If there is one thing that drives every coach crazy, it’s leaving points at the line. There’s nothing more
frustrating than losing a game by 2-3 points, when your team missed 5-10 free throws that very game.
Some players who are otherwise great shooters will sometimes struggle at the free throw line, due to a lack of focus or wonky fundamentals, but there are a couple of ways you can help correct this.
The BEEF acronym has been around almost as long as the game itself, and it’s a great way to teach your players the basics of good shooting form.
The ‘B’ stands for balance. This is the foundation for your shot, and you want it to be strong and sturdy. Make sure your feet are shoulder width apart, and they should be just slightly staggered, with the front
foot line up directly with the front of the rim.
The ‘E’ is a reminder to keep your elbow in. An outward elbow will create extra movement in your release that has the potential to throw the ball off target as you release – have a look at any great shooters release and you’ll notice that their elbow is completely perpendicular to the ground.
The second ‘E’ is in reference to your eyes. While some coaches teach to aim at the front of the rim, or just over the front of the rim, I prefer to teach my players to aim for the back.
Since you shoot with backspin on the ball, a shot that is slightly long will most likely spin back into the rim, whereas that same shot would pop out if it had hit the front.
The last letter is ‘F’, and here we’re talking about your follow-through. Make sure to snap your wrist, pushing down with your thumb, index, and middle finger, and hold that position until the ball reaches the hoop.
By following through, you are forced to arc the ball slightly higher than otherwise, and also encourage a strong back spin on the ball, helping you hopefully get that shooter’s bounce off the rim.
Full Court Free Throws
It’s important to make sure your players practice free throws when they’re tired, because it can be quite a bit different controlling your breathing and focus when you’ve just run up and down the floor a couple possessions.
That’s why I like this drill. It’s very simple, just have a player take two free throws, sprint to the far baseline and back up to the free throw line.
The first couple will be easy, but once they’ve done a couple windsprints, it will become quite a bit tougher.
Free Throw Slides
This drill uses the same concept as full court free throws, and can be used in its stead if you don’t have the space for that drill.
Here your player will take their free throws, and then get into defensive stance and slide over to the elbow, down to the baseline, and back up the same way they came.
Remember, try to make these drills a competition if possible – see who can hit the most free throws in 2 minutes for example – and players will really push themselves through the sprints and slides.
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