NBA 2014-15: The year in free throws (so far)

Kyle Korver

It’s been an exciting year for free throws – well, pretty exciting, at least. Taking a look at this year’s statistics so far, five players are shooting free throws over 90%: Kyle Korver (pictured), Jrue Holiday, Stephen CurryJamal Crawford, and Isaiah Thomas. One other fact that comes out looking at the stats is that no one is shooting in the 50-59% range, though there are a few stragglers shooting in the 40s. Time to catch up, guys.

Free Throw Training Techniques, part 1

basketball crowd

Always trying to practice what it’s like to shoot free throws under game pressure but don’t know how? Here’s a tip you can try. Part of what will be a longer series on practicing techniques.

They say Free Throws are easy, but there’s still plenty of pressure you have to overcome while shooting. At NBA and other competitive basketball games, crowds have many ways to distract players, including those annoying shakers and, in the case of the Brooklyn Nets, a really old guy named Mr. Whammy.

So here’s a tip for practicing: put on a track of crowd noise in the background as you practice. Crank it up. It may not be able to completely replicate what it’s like to shoot under game pressure, but it helps you to get into the same mindset. A big part of Dr. Tom’s method is Focus and Concentration, and you have to be able to do that not just while you’re practicing but during a game.

Free Throw Physics

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Everybody hates physics, right? Well, at least any good basketball player who would rather be out on the courts than staring at a blackboard crammed with equations does. But a little physics can go a long way, and it can also help to understand why Dr. Tom’s Free Throw method is so successful.

To simplify things a bit, let’s start by assuming complete accuracy (a big assumption, but we’ll get back to that later). In this case, you have to shoot the ball with the right angle above the ground and speed for it to go in. Of course, getting the right speed and angle on the court is an issue of feel. But from a physics standpoint, if the ball arcs more, it will hit the plane of the hoop at an angle closer to 90 degrees, giving it a better chance of going in.

This idea is backed up in an article in Discover magazine, which finds that shooting a ball at just over 45 degrees (depending on the height of the player) is the best way to go. The article also advocates a shooting style virtually identical to Dr. Tom’s – though unfortunately it refers to the style as the “granny shot”, since it leads to shooting lower, and thus gives you a more direct angle at the hoop plane.

So if lower is better, why not just throw the ball underhand? That’s where accuracy comes in. If you go too low, it’s harder to control the direction of the shot, and you miss. But at just the right height, you can make sure the shot goes in. Some of Dr. Tom’s techniques, such as keeping the elbow in and feet square to the line, help with accuracy even more.

For more free throw tips, check out our book and video!

Free Throws: The Power Of 15 Feet

Bball court dimensions When you step up to the free throw line, there’s only 15 feet between you and the basket, and the points you deserve. 15 feet doesn’t sound like much. But when you step up to shoot, all of a sudden it looks like a lot more.

How do you overcome the mental pressure when you’re at the free throw line? Your team is counting on you and the pressure is on. Whether or not you make your free throws will be a key factor – most games are won or lost on the free throw line.

To make your baskets, you need to be able to focus and concentrate. Master the mental side of basketball and you’ll be able to remind yourself of the fact that at the end of the day, 15 feet is not that far.
For more tips on focus and concentration, download the player’s edition of Make Every Free Throw!

Free Throw Genius

bball court 1When we think of genius, we usually think of nerdy scientists mixing together chemicals, working on computers, or writing out horrendously long equations. But there’s also such a thing as genius for sports. Prominent writers have compared the genius of Michael Jordan to that of Einstein. Sure, Jordan probably would never have been able to create the theory of general relativity. But then again, Einstein would never have been able to win game 6 of the 1998 NBA finals.

I think it’s safe to say that sports genius is a lot different from science genius. But when it comes to shooting free throws, what kind of genius should you have?

The answer is a bit of both. Free throws need the same quick thinking you need to succeed during regular play. You need to cope with distractions and game pressure. But they also require strategy. To raise your percentage, you’re going to need to know what technique works. That’s where the seven step method comes in. Created by Dr. Tom Amberry, the world’s champion free throw shooter, they help you to hone your free throw abilities, so you can master the strategy and improve you in the moment thinking.

Free Throws: The Best Memes

We love Free Throws. We love cheesy internet memes. Thus, the rationale for this post: a quick collection of the best free throw related meme pics out there. We wanted to give an explanation for the back story of these memes, but that would require actual thinking. So sit back, relax, and get ready to have a few cheap laughs at the expense of some of the NBA’s worst free throw shooters.

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Free throws 99 not hit one meme

Derrick Rose Free Throws

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2014 NBA Finals Preview: Free Throw Edition

nbafinalsmgn1image: deannbabets.wordpress.com. Isn’t it nice that we can reuse all the graphics from last year?

Tonight is the first night of the NBA Finals, with the Miami Heat facing off against the Spurs in San Antonio. There’s plenty to talk about, but since we’re all about free throws here, we’re going to be giving our free throw preview of the finals. Let’s go.

The Miami Heat have been all over the place on free throws. Lebron, for instance, is holding at a solid 75% free throw rate. Solid enough that people seem to not want to foul him so much: during the season, he once went two straight games without shooting a free throw. Dwayne Wade has also been strong from the free throw line this year, despite this video, leading some to question an analysis that (sadly) we bought into saying that free throws helped the Indiana Pacers to pick up a few games during the playoffs. Nevertheless, their performance last year was shaky, as Danny Martinez points out. With many expecting a strong offense, will they be able to hold up against possible fouls?

On a related note, watch this video explaining the probability of Lebron making ten free throws in a row.

San Antonio has also shown a wobbly free throw performance, but one that is improving overall. Tim Duncan used to suck at free throws, but he turned things around and by 2013 was shooting 82% from the free throw line. We noted Kevin Durant’s strong free throw shooting in OKC’s final game of the playoffs this year, but Duncan also held his own, shooting 75% or more regularly.

Overall, even though they have been shaky on free throws in the past, this year these are two strong teams that have proven that they can hold up on the free throw line. It looks like this is going to be a good finals series for free throws.

Let’s Take A Break From the 2014 NBA Finals to Watch Dwight Howard Get Schooled At Free Throws

The mood is tense this year. That’s why I would rather talk about something completely not tense from last year to cool off for a bit. Has anyone noticed how much Dwight Howard sucks at free throw shooting? Here’s a video from last year of him losing to a sports columnist’s middle aged daughter in a free throw contest. Howard left the Lakers to go to Houston the next year, but his free throw fail continued to haunt both teams, neither of which made it to the finals this year.

NBA Playoffs: Pre-Finals Free Throw Wrap-Up

Durant Free ThrowImage: upi.com

When last we checked in, we were waxing poetic/philosophical in the wake of the whole Donald Sterling racism fiasco. In the couple of weeks or so since, Sterling managed to go on national TV and screw things up even more, and the LA Clippers ended up being sold by Sterling’s wife to former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer for the low low price of $2 billion, though Sterling is still threatening to sue the NBA for $1 billion. Don’t you just love rich people math? The sale is a historic trade off from one old white guy to a slightly younger but still pretty old white guy, though to Ballmer’s credit, his on-tape gaffes will probably end up just being him shouting “developers Developers DEVELOPERS!” – still irritating, but a lot less racist than Sterling’s. Ballmer also promises to be one of the first team owners to sweat more than his players do on court. Also, he’s perfected his victory dance for whenever someone on his team makes a basket.

But I digress. Here are the top free throw moments from the playoffs. Excluding the finals, obviously. Unless someone has a way for me to see the future. In which case, I would probably give up free throw blogging and go crazy in Vegas.

First. it’s worth remembering (again) the free throws by DeAndre Jordan of the LA Clippers in game 5 against the Warriors, which noted sports writers called a “roller coaster”. Maybe because of the fact that sometimes they make people vomit. But in this case, comparing them to a roller coaster turns out to be a good thing. But as they moved on to face the Thunder, they (to borrow a tired metaphor) dropped the ball. After seemingly forgetting how to shoot free throws, they were out after six games.

While we’re on the subject of Oklahoma City and free throws, watch this video of Joey Crawford moronically interrupting Kevin Durant during a free throw in game 5 of the Thunder/Grizzlies series. The ref looks like Elmer Fudd.

There was more free throw drama to come. In game 6 of the Thunder/Spurs series, OKC managed to tie it up when Kevin Durant drained two free throws against the Spurs with 58 seconds left. It was almost enough to give the Thunder one more game before their inevitable loss against the “Foreign Legion”. But no, they still lost 2-4, instead of a marginally more dignified 3-4 loss.

Meanwhile in the Eastern Division, another moronic free throw interruption happened when Brooklyn’s “Mr. Whammy” (wasn’t he the guy from Anchorman? or maybe the guy from the Six Flags ads.) did what appeared to be a two-fingered breaststroke to distract the Raptors’ Kyle Lowry from making one out of two free throws during their series. Which Brooklyn ended up winning. Whammy.

But the biggest story is – of course – the Miami Heat, against whom two other teams had exceptional free throw games, and still lost. Brooklyn rallied in the last of the five (five!) games they ended up playing against Miami, thanks to free throws, before losing. Indiana did a bit better, taking two games off of Miami before being sent to the scrap heap. The first of those two was basically won by free throws.

So here we are again. The Heat are looking to win their third championship in a row, despite the fact that other teams seem to be doing better at the free throw line. Does this mean that free throws don’t matter?

No. Without free throws, those teams would have gone down even harder. Now, only one question remains: will the Heat emerge victorious, or will the Spurs be able to take them down a peg? I dunno. Maybe we should ask Mr. Whammy.