Think about how many games are won or lost on the free throw line. It happens at all levels – Elementary, Jr. High, High School, College and the Pros. Developing a consistent, reliable foul shot can change your success and your team’s success. With all the physical contact that happens during a game, it’s wonderful to take a shot with no one guarding you. You work hard to get to the free throw line, now just put it in!
Things to remember:
• Take deep breaths; relax your muscles. Take a moment to catch your breath. You rarely go to the line rested.
• Repetition is important. Create a habit every time you step up to the free throw line. For example, dribble twice before you take the shot. Do the same routine every time. It will be comforting.
• Use a consistent shooting technique; each shot must be the same motion. Stay balanced. Keep your elbow in. Fix your eyes on the target and follow through.
• Line up properly. Most indoor courts have a nail placed in the middle of the foul line. Line up your right foot with the nail if you’re right-handed, left foot if you’re left-handed.
• Think positively; you must believe in yourself and have the confidence that you will make the shot. Repetition equals confidence; confidence equals success. Practice, practice, practice.
1. Shoot at least 100 free throws a day.
2. Step up to the foul line and shoot two at a time. Step back off and the line for a split second. Then, shoot two more free throws.
3. Break up your shooting so you don’t get into a groove. Make 10 jump shots around the basket and then step up to the line and shoot 10 free throws. Repeat.
4. My Dad always told me to challenge myself when shooting free throws. If the ball swishes without touching the rim, it counts. If it touches the rim a little, but still goes in, it does not count. You don’t have to do this at first, but work toward this.
5. Keep a record of the shots you make each day.
Free throws are a very important part of the game. Practice shooting free throws so that you have the confidence to step up to that line during a crucial part of the game and put them in.
Several years ago, I was looking at our sales database and I recognized the name, Kendal Gill. Kendall Gill was a journeyman that played many years in the NBA. I was intrigued that an NBA player would have purchased some of my products.
A couple weeks later I get this phone call and the man on the other line said: “Hi Sandy, I know who you are. Do you know who I am? My name is Kendall Gill.” He exclaimed, “I’ve been in the NBA for 12 years now and this summer I am dedicating my summer to learning how to handle the basketball better because I want to be able to hang with the younger guys.” He continued, “I purchased some of your DVD’s, and they helped me out a lot, but I was wondering if you could give me some one-on-one lessons.”
I thought to myself, this guy makes a lot of money, he’s in the NBA, yet he’s asking me, a woman, to help him handle the basketball better. But more importantly I thought, this guy is a winner. He was an established player in the NBA. For the most part he could have chosen to just go through the motions, but he wanted to get better and it didn’t matter that I was a woman. He believed that I could help him improve.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting to play basketball or an NBA great like Kendall Gill, you can always learn more from coaches, parents and others who may have valuable knowledge to share.
Kendall Gill’s work ethic is something to admire.
I remember the first time I performed at the halftime of a Boston Celtics game. What a thrill it was to perform on a court with so much history associated with it! When I started the dribbling routine of my performance, my mind started to wander – here I was standing on the Leprechaun, thinking about all the historical games that were started with a jump ball right here. I was thinking completely about something else other than thinking about what I was doing in front of 20,000 people at that moment! I made a slight mistake, which shocked me back into focusing on the present and then I finished the performance successfully.
Have you ever felt your mind wander during an important moment in a game? We’ve all experienced this at one time or another in our lives, and it’s easier said than done to “snap out of it” and get back to focusing on the task at hand. Below are 7 Keys to Staying Focused in the Present:
Some information in this tip comes from: Flow in Sports: The Keys to Optimal Experiences and Performances.
Ever hear a teammate say during a basketball drill, “That’s good enough, we’ve done what the coach has asked us to do.” Or a classmate say, “That’s good enough, our teacher won’t look that closely at our project.” Maybe you’ve told yourself, “That’s good enough, Mom and Dad won’t notice that I didn’t clean under my bed.
If any of these examples hit home, you are not alone. We’ve all at some point in our lives, cut short a drill, asked a friend what the book was about instead of reading it ourselves or quickly “cleaned” our room so we could do something more exciting. When we do this it hurts no one but ourselves.
If you want to become the basketball player you know you are capable of becoming, good enough just isn’t good enough. What I mean is that if you cut corners and don’t demand 110% of yourself, the outcome will be less then your best.
I read the following poem in a newspaper and I truly believe in its message. I hope it helps you banish this dangerous phrase from your vocabulary
My child, beware of “good enough.”
It isn’t made of sterling stuff;
It’s something anyone can do;
It marks the many from the few.
The flaw which may escape the eye
And temporarily get by
Shall weaken underneath the strain
And wreck the ship, the car or plane.
With “good enough,” the car breaks down,
And one falls short of high renown.
My child, remember and be wise,
In “good enough,” the shirkers stop
In every factory and shop;
With “good enough,” the failures rest
And lose the one who gives the best.
Who stops at “good enough,” shall find
Success has left them far behind.
For this is true of you and your stuff —
Only the best is “good enough.”
If it is to be, it is up to me (The author of this poem was not cited, so if you know who composed it, please email me so I can give the proper credit.)
There is a distinct difference between confidence and arrogance out on the basketball court. Confidence is defined as an athlete who is sure of his/her abilities and gets the job done. She or he knows that basketball is a team game and praises his/her teammates – giving credit where credit is due. Arrogance is defined as an athlete who is sure of his/her abilities, however taking it one step further. He or she knows they’re good and makes sure everyone around them knows it too. They are never at fault if the ball is turned over, or the ref makes a call — it’s always someone else’s fault.
I found a poem, by Tom Krause that talks about arrogance and coming to the realization that no matter how good we are, we always have room for improvement.
by Tom Krause
From the time I was little, I knew I was great
’cause the people would tell me, “You’ll make it – just wait.”
But they never did tell me how great I would be
If I ever played someone who was greater than me.
When I’m in the back yard, I’m king with the ball
To swish all those baskets is no sweat at all.
But all of a sudden there’s a defender in my face
Who doesn’t seem to realize that I’m king of this place.
So the pressure gets to me; I rush with the ball.
My passes to teammates could go through the wall.
My jumper’s not falling, my dribbles not sure.
My hand is not steady; my eye is not pure.
The fault is my teammates – they don’t understand.
The fault is my coaches – what a terrible plan.
The fault is the call by the blind referee.
But the fault is not mine; I’m the greatest, you see.
Then finally it hit me when I started to see
That the face in the mirror looked exactly like me.
It wasn’t my teammates who were dropping the ball,
and it wasn’t my coach shooting bricks at the wall.
That face in the mirror that was always so great
Had some room for improvement instead of just hate.
So I stopped blaming others and I started to grow.
My play got much better and it started to show.
And all of my teammates didn’t seem quite so bad.
I learned to depend on the good friends I had.
Now I like myself better since I started to see
That I was lousy being great – I’m much better being me.
There are moments in life that are so significant, that the experience will remain clearly in your mind for the rest of your life. I experienced this unforgettable moment late last month.
My High School alma mater named its gym after me. The Sandy Spin Slade Gymnasium dedication ceremony took place on January 27, 2017. It had to be one of the most humbling experiences of my life. To be recognized in this way in the company of family, friends, classmates, former teachers and members of the community was so remarkable.
It’s quite surreal to me to be honored like this, especially when all I’ve done is passionately pursue what I loved. In my speech, I took a moment to reflect on what that new sign, which hangs in the gym, truly represents for the students. It signifies that life has no limitations, and every student has the same opportunities to pursue his/her passion. It also symbolizes endless possibilities and taking chances in life. This can be echoed at every school throughout this country. Students have to believe that there are so many opportunities before them and if they work hard to pursue their passion, amazing things can happen. If it can happen to a girl from a small, northwestern Wisconsin town, it can happen to any child!
I want to thank all of the people in Solon Springs, WI who created an evening that I will never forget.
I also want to thank all of you – for I gain my strength and inspiration from your tireless dedication in providing an environment where all children have a positive experience being physically active. Your endless enthusiasm and passion that you display in my workshops, as well as the positive comments about Skillastics® you share mean more to me then you’ll ever know.
Definitely a Spinsational Life…
Happy New Year! It’s time for new beginnings. Everyone feels happy at the beginning of a new year. Our minds are full of positive thoughts for a wonderful and prosperous New Year. Now is the perfect time to encourage your young athletes to set individual goals.
Ask them to take the time and answer these questions.
There are endless possibilities for setting realistic goals. Have them write them down and display it in their room where they can see it often. It’s important that they keep that positive energy throughout the whole year and have a template to refer to when challenges appear.
Let’s all have a fantastic 2017!!!
Many years ago I sold basketball books and videos on my website. One day back then I was looking at the names of the people who had purchased some of my products. One of the names I ran across was, Kendall Gill. I thought to myself, the only Kendall Gill I know plays in the NBA, and at the time he played for the Minnesota Timberwolves. So I thought that it was pretty cool that a pro player purchased a couple videos off my site.
A couple weeks later I get this phone call and the man on the other line said: “Hi Sandy, I know who you are. Do you know who I am? My name is Kendall Gill.” He said, “I’ve been in the NBA for 12 years and this summer I am dedicating my summer to learning how to handle the basketball better because I want to be able to hang with the younger guys.” He continued, “I purchased some of your tapes, and they helped me out a lot, but I was wondering if you could give me some one-on-one lessons.”
I thought to myself, “Wow, this guy makes a lot of money, he’s in the NBA, yet he’s asking me — a woman — to help him handle the basketball better.” But more importantly I thought, “This guy is a winner. He’s established in the NBA, for the most part he could just go through the motions, but he wants to get better and it doesn’t matter that I’m a woman, he feels that I can help him improve.”
It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting to play basketball or an NBA player like Kendall Gill, you can always learn more from coaches, parents and others who may be more skilled. Kendall Gill’s work ethic is definitely something to admire. If Kendall can learn how to handle the ball better, so can you.
You’re in the biggest game of your life! Your team is down by one point with 2 seconds left in the game. You made an excellent attempt to win the game, but was fouled in the act of shooting. You missed the shot, but now have the opportunity to win the game if you make these two free throws. Will you be the athlete who walks up to that line confident in knowing that you will make those free throws because you’ve spent hours practicing to prepare for this? Or will you be the athlete who is scared to death — wishing you could go back and practice your free throws instead of skipping that part of your workout because you wanted to meet some friends?
Your coach can make you work hard in practice. Your family can work with you, even your teammates can play with you. But if you don’t workout on your own, you will never reach your potential. It’s all about self-discipline. Every one of us gets 24 hours in a day. It’s the only thing we all have in common. What we do with that 24 hours determines our destiny. Self-discipline is the key to being successful.
A couple of months ago I got a e-mail from a young athlete requesting information on how to stay consistent in a game. He said he’s slow to start at the beginning of the game and then starts playing better as the game goes on. Sometimes he felt this delay in his ability on the court hindered his team’s chance of winning.
Preparing yourself physically for a game is only half of the preparation. You also have to prepare yourself mentally. As soon as the ball is tossed up at half court to begin the game, you must be all there physically AND mentally. This is not an easy task. In fact, I truly believe it’s the hardest part of being an athlete — preparing yourself mentally.
Before I use to perform, I prepare myself mentally and physically. I warm-up, stretch and then visualize myself succeeding. I focus completely on the task at hand. What I need to do and what I have to do to get there. There is one meditation exercise that I do a lot that helps me, especially when I’ve got a lot of other things on my mind. This meditation exercise helps me think about the exact moment I’m in. Not the past, not the future.
Sit in a comfortable position where you will not be disturbed. Take a note of the time on your watch. Close your eyes and focus on one thing (for instance, your breathing). Pay attention to your breaths in and out. Do this for as long as you maintain only this focus. Open your eyes when your focus moves and note the time on your watch. How much time passed since you began this exercise? One minute? Twenty seconds? Perhaps you were able to maintain a focus on your breathing for five minutes?
Try this type of exercise before your game starts. Focusing on the task at hand will help you maintain consistency in your game. This is not easy. You’ll need to practice this over and over again. But the athlete who works on the mental part of the game, as well as the physical part, will become that athlete that all coaches would like on their team.