Free Throw Practice

I’m curious about how other people feel about free throws. Does anyone else get annoyed when any time a team struggles at the line someone always suggests they need to practice more? These guys are D1 athletes, they’re practicing free throws. If free throws are a problem I really don’t think it’s lack of practice. Yes, players may have bad habits or bad form but free throws at this level are a mental thing. Especially when this team is, historically, a good free throw shooting team. One bad year and every comment on social media is “practice free throws!”
I mean do people think the coaches just decided to skip free throw practice this year?

Does that bug anyone else?


Matthews looks to be the biggest offender —and he may just be a poor FT shooter? Shot 14-34 as a FR at Kentucky & is 21-44 this year for Michigan.

Poole is surprising as a struggle; seems like a good natural shooter but only 5-10 early.
Simpson and Wagner are both below their marks from last season. It might just be small sample sizes with those three? Simpson from 71% to 55%… Wagner from 73% to 66%

Love the topic…thanks for starting!

  1. Be the last to the line…let them fill the blocks first.
  2. Own the situation…look at hoop…don’t stare! Own it!
    2a. Wipe bottom of shoe…wipe hand.
  3. Find the nail or center board and lock right big toe as close as possible to the line…(if shooting with the right)
  4. Now I want the ball…i hope everyone is watching.
  5. Ball in left hand resting on hip…practice trigger…thinking arch.
  6. Square up with shoulder, right elbow, aligned to the center of hoop.
  7. Focused on front of the rim…thinking get ball on top of rim.
  8. Three dribbles/bounces of the ball while looking at the front of the rim.
  9. Always three bounces…hold the ball and big exhale before release.
  10. Remember to make sure you bend the knees…thinking ball on top of rim.
  11. Get the ball on top of the rim…land it on top of the rim.
  12. Get the elbow to the chin…make sure you release the ball above your head.
  13. Flick the wrist in sync with the shooting motion.
  14. Drop that ball over the front edge of the rim
  15. Money…

Repeat, Repeat…can’t ever leave the floor in practice unless I make 9 out of 10.

Go Blue and good luck to the young fella…practice the process as much as the shot!


… I forgot to add the seams and ball rotation with grip…probably another 4 or 5 steps but critical to the ball sticking on the rim. Check out the Beilein ball and you’ll understand…it’s called the ROCK.

You know for all the FT percentage talk, Michigan has made the four most clutch free throws this season when needed.

MAAR obviously last night but don’t forget Eli against UCLA.


I don’t like Matthews free throw mechanics. He starts at his knees, then brings it up to his waist, then shoulders in a series of 3 motions. It’s not consistently repeatable. If any step is off the subsequent one will be as well. A bad chain reaction.


I would be very surprised if Beilein isn’t all over this. But X does not look like a bad FT shooter; he looks like a cowed one.

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Word is, Shaq couldn’t miss in practice :slight_smile: . In high school, I became a better game FT shooter by just concentrating on making the darn shot, vs worrying about all of the mechanical details every time.


The last two games, Zavier was 3-3 in non-crunch time and 3-10 down the stretch. Meaningful? Don’t know.

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I love z but his FT form is unbelievably ugly. This is going to sound stupid or delusional to many of you, and it most certainly is, but I really feel like I could improve his shot in a weekend. It is so frustrating. Please shoot me a direct message JB. :slight_smile:

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Hey, shoot your shot we know he reads it.


Haha. I guarantee I would not make his form worse.

I’ll leave the tweaks for Beilein in the offseason, no offense :wink:

Would like to know if he makes them in practice. Then we know it’s a matter of calming himself at the line. If as a high school athlete I could get to the point where I made 8,9, sometimes ten in a row I assume these great athletes can.

FT shooting is massively mental. I had always been a solid FT shooter then my first season in college I shot around 55-60%, just totally mental knowing way more was on the line than in high school. Last season when Z was X and not as good of a jump shooter he was in the 71%, albeit a small sample


Shooting free throws is a lot like the golf swing. Everybody and his brother wants to “help” you with your mechanics. Even some pretty good instructors are very mechanical in their instruction but struggle with helping a player understand the mental aspect of the game. Golf is a very slow game, a game during which the player has a lot of time to think about his swing and the mechanics of the swing. Good swing coaches are able to help the golfer separate golf mechanics, the golf swing, with just playing golf, focusing on the target and certainly not thinking about where your elbow is at the top of the backswing, or where your hands are at impact, or swing plane, or how long or short your backswing is… Free throw shooting is very similar. You’re just standing there with a ball in your hand and a target. Oh, and possibly 10,000 or 15,000 screaming fans. If you’re focusing on mechanics, in all likelihood you’re screwed. Yes, in practice you need to pay attention to fundamentals, you need lots of repitition of those fundamentals, mechanics if you will, but in the heat of the game, it’s just you and the target and you have follow your routine and let it go. At that point you can’t think mechanics. Of course, if you are a “catch and shoot” shooter or an “off the dribble” shooter you are NOT thinking mechanics. You are just playing the game and letting it fly, mechanics be damned. I am absolutely sure Jordan Poole was not thinking mechanics when he hit those threes vs. Maryland. I think that’s part of what we see with Charles, where he has a nice jumper that he makes fairly consistently from 12-15-18 feet but struggles at the FT line. Fortunately, Coach B is not only an elite teacher of shooting, he’s a pretty cerebral guy who understands the difference between shooting mechanics and just shooting, and, I am sure, works on both. Of course, confidence is a pretty important factor, too, and confidence can be pretty fickle. I thought it was interesting that Coach B mentioned in his presser that he “probably screwed [Z] up because he saw something from Saturday [on Z’s shot] and worked with him on that” during the day Monday. Kind of like, “It’s my fault.” Perhaps just trying not to damage Z’s confidence any more than it already may be.


I needed something to “center” myself after getting the ball. I used to toe the nail, dig my foot in, set my other foot, dribble three times and then shoot but really wasn’t consistent. Sophomore year of H.S. I put in a little spin of the ball from right hand into my left like it was setting up in my shooting pocket and that did it. That little spin boosted me from the mid 60’s to upper 80s for the rest of the year. Z and CM need to find the thing that gets them set.

Get a relaxed comfortable stance and shooting motion and repeat it every time. Practice, practice, practice. You should have no technique thoughts while shooting in games. Focus on the target and repeat your motion.


My coach always told me not to do anything at the FT line that you wouldn’t do in a game. I did a simple 2 dribble and shoot. Was not that great of an all around player, but heck, shot 80+%from the line. But for the most part, I think it’s mental. Right state of mind and repeatable mechanics and you should have no problem being a 70% shooter.

Simpson and Matthews have combined to MISS 58 free throws in 23 games so far.