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Basketball Tip

Presented by John Gillon, Featured Athlete
John Gillon Basketball Camp at Bishop Ludden Junior-Senior High School

5 Tips on How to Improve Your Free Throw Shot

How To Shoot A Free Throw

Do you ever struggle with your free throw shot? Free throws can be a deciding factor in the outcome of the game, so understanding the importance of how to shoot a basketball is crucial to improving your game not only as an individual but also as a team player. Approaching the line in a game setting is a daunting task until you practice seriously and simulate a game time scenario. The free throw is the only opportunity in basketball where the defense cannot interfere, leaving the moment entirely up to you which is why it is essential to incorporate repetition of shots from the free throw line during practice. Here are five free throw shooting tips from John Gillon, a current NBA G league BayHawks Player and pro player basketball camp director.

Establishing a routine

Establishing a unique routine that goes step by step is highly recommended if your goal is to improve your free throw shooting percentage. John Gillon has had the same routine for years, “He bounces the ball three times, looks down at the floor, raises his eyes to find the rim.” Once created, consistency is key to becoming an effective free throw shooter. From the moment the referee passes you the ball up until the shot is complete, everything needs to be repeated during each attempt to solidify your new habits. This routine is beneficial for mental recollection and confidence at the line and is also imperative for muscle memory from a bio-mechanical standpoint.


The power of your shot comes from your legs. Keep your knees bent with your weight on your toes all whilst balancing the ball with your non-dominant hand. Although the majority of the shot is controlled by your hands and legs, engaging your core will set you up in a stable position to aim at the hoop.


The position of your elbows is a critical part of the form for any shot. Bend your shooting arm and point your elbow straight to the rim while staying aligned with your shoulder, and keep your elbow directly underneath the ball. As time passes this will become natural and will not require much thought.


It is best to focus your eyes directly at your target. As you become more comfortable with your routine and form you won’t need to pay as much attention to your hand and elbow placement. This will allow for better accuracy when aiming the ball at the hoop.

Follow Through

Once you finally get to shooting the ball, extend your knees and elbow and most importantly flick your wrist. Once the ball leaves your hand, the flick with your wrist will produce a back spin on the ball. This should all be in one smooth motion and your feet should not leave the ground.

With anything in basketball practice makes perfect. Establish a routine and stick to it to maximize your results. Check out more basketball shooting tips and join John Gillon and his staff this summer in Syracuse or Houston at John Gillon Basketball Camp.

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