The Swish Free Throw



My new video on the "Swish Free Throw" is now available for order. 

The  result of over 350 hours and four years of work, Swish 3 is now available to simplify the skill of shooting Free Throws.  I discovered three new Distinctions that help define and describe the humble Free Throw, where you START with the ball, the FIRST MOVE as the leg action begins, and ZONES.   The "Inertia Effect" has become a big part of my coaching (Newton's First Law of Motion).  Get this video and see your Free Throw shooting improve very quickly.  This video lists for $34.95 and is available as a single item or as part of three "packages."   



Why is the Free Throw so difficult for so many players?

What is there about this rather short, simple, unguarded shot that baffles so many players?  Is it the pressure?  Does technique matter, or is it mostly mental?  Is it that the shot is so obviously documented that your successes or failures over time are exposed for the world to see?  Is it that the whole game stops and focuses just on “you,” thus increasing the pressure?  Is there too much thinking as you go to shoot?  


What if you could stroke it such that your performance was a thing of beauty, adding to your image, rather than a failure, sometimes a pathetic failure (can you say “Air Ball?”)?



The Free Throw line is 15 feet from the backboard, and the center of the rim is just 13’ 9” from the line (due to the radius of the rim being 9” and the bracket that fastens the rim to the backboard places the inside point of the rim exactly 6” from the backboard.  (9” + 6” = 15” short of 15 feet)


This is a shot that has no one guarding you and you have 10 seconds to prepare yourself to shoot.  You’re restricted to stay behind the line until the ball reaches the rim.  It’s a constant action that can be practiced and rehearsed so you do the same body motions each time, thus variables are reduced and, hopefully, minimized.


It's the techinique!  It's the techinique!

First, let me say I feel the main problem is technique.  It does matter how you stand, how you align the ball, how you connect with leg and body energy, how you set and release the ball!  The discovery of Inertia as applied to a basketball shot a few years ago is a critical factor in accuracy and a little extra power.  Unconditional concentration and trust in oneself are critical in any precise endeavor, of course, but the other "mental" aspects (confidence, belief in oneself, visualizing success, willing the ball to go in, etc.) are dependent on results and will rise and fall with performance.  Of course, if you doubt yourself, failure is probably in your future.  But the action is so simple, the target so big, it doesn't take much to start making shots and then your mental state will fall in line.  It's hard for your mind to say you're not a good shooter (no "confidence") if you've just made 5 or 10 in a row and know what you did to make that happen. Doubt will disappear when you can make shots with ease!

So here are some recommendations:

Do we need one?  If yes, how long should it be?  Swish 3 examines this factor and offers some simple suggestions for how to get ready that empower you, not try to make you into a robot.  The best performance seems to be when we're totally focused in the present moment, not when thinking, imagining, visualizing success. 

First, have an “Open” stance, not a “Squared” stance.  Open is a more natural way to stand for a one-handed motion.  And from such a stance, alignment with the shooting eye is easier, and upward-forward power for the shot can come from the whole body.  From a squared-up stance, the legs and body can only go up (if you moved that energy forward you would fall over from lack of balance), thus requiring that the upper body create the horizontal action.  That sounds fine, but it actually sabotages shooting by encouraging upper body variables.  

Also, start with legs straight, not bent.  That allows you to do a strong down-and-up action to power and stabilize the shot.  If you start from a crouch, you lose all or most of the "down" energy that enhances power and alignment.  All you have left is the "up" energy.  Try it both ways and you be the judge.  

We want to minimize the involvement of small muscles and maximize the action of the bigger muscles, especially those of the strong, stabilizing lower  and middle body. 

Shoot on the way up, quickly to "catch" all the leg power.  The down-up leg action triggers the whole chain reaction of movement in a Free Throw.


Elbow is NOT directly under the ball.  It's important that the center of the hand face directly in line with the target.  When you do that, the elbow is out a little, as it needs to be.  Forget the elbow!  It knows what it needs to do, not needing your obsession with its placement.


It’s critical that the Set Point be in line with the eye, either above or below the eyes. Absolute control of direction depends on it.  When you are so aligned, then you can truly “let it go,” fire off the shot without worry so much about direction.  Your only focus then is on distance and how to control that.

It’s important to get the ball in line and moving before the Release and then keep it moving.  This is the  "Inertia Effect."  That makes shooting easier.  Swish 3 spends a lot of time teaching how to create and "catch" this powerful factor.

Let the arm action be the standard Swish Release, a simple, constant pushing action rather than a flip or throw. Connected to the upward movement generated by the legs (UpForce), the Release is "The Delivery System."  It puts the ball into the basket!  If you relax the wrist and hand, the shot motion becomes more “repeatable.”  Work on developing an automatic Release motion, always at the same speed and force, a motion you can trust.  

As with the Swish Jump Shot or Set Shot, you vary the trajectory (the height, the angle) of the Release to control distance, not the Release power or timing.  This is the "easy" way to shoot.  With a Free Throw, since everything is constant, the angle of Release will be pretty much constant, too, but it might have to be varied due to fatigue or adrenaline.  Just be "in the moment" with the shot and ready to vary the arch if needed.

Focus on the basket throughout the Free Throw motion.  It’s where you are sending the ball.  If you take your eyes off it, your attention on and connection to it are diminished.  Have intention to make the shot.  The extra attention on the target in the Follow Through help ensure accuracy.

When you have a stroke you understand and can feel and perform well at will, then there will be less anxiety over the result.  If you know you can make them, there’s less fear and doubt.  If your technique and your performance are shaky, then it’s normal to doubt yourself.

So, work on getting a great technique and then practicing it until you trust it.    When you see you can shoot well with great technique, then the mental game will start to be won and thoughts will diminish.  Then you can become more “present” and “in the moment,” meaning you feel your body as you shoot.  This is where great performance resides, and you won’t need a sports psychologist or some “pre-shot routine” to try to calm your mind.  You’ll just go to the line and do your thing and the ball will find the bottom of the net.  What pressure?


Get all three videos, Swish, Swish 2, and Swish 3, to get the full instruction in this exciting way to shoot!