By Jim "Makevery" Schatz
(THE NBSA QUIKSHOT USA BASKETBALL RETURN SYSTEM
IS THE PERFECT SOLUTION: Coming Soon)
Balance is perhaps the number one most important element while shooting from the free throw line.
One of my many visualizations during alignment is exclusively for gaining perfect balance. I accomplish this by taking an in-breath to gain perfect posture while stepping into stance. I visualize stepping into the perfect me - stance, balance and shot.
When balance is perfect, the head moves downward as the knees bend and then upward as the lower body coil is released. This lower body up and down movement needs to be precisely the same every time. Then during the shot and after the follow through, the torso, shoulders and head come back to the exact same balanced starting position during alignment.
Major balance problems can develop from having to rebound your own shot. Using a basketball return system, such as the NBSA QUIKSHOT USA BASKETBALL RETURN SYSTEM, eliminates the problem of having to move and retrieve the basketball after each free throw. By using a basketball return system you can stay in stance throughout the shot and eventually, through perfect practice, finish in balance every time.
You can not see the target clearly when out of balance during the shot. Here is what I suggest: Visualize keeping the basketball within a 18 inch shot tunnel that leads ends with a perfect "pop" or "swish" of the net. I do this visualization during alignment and also while making my crab dribble (a two handed bounce with the air hole setting up). I keep the air hole up to establish my grip exactly the same every time while inside that shot tunnel.
Balance is most often lost during the initial move, which begins immediately after grip establishment. The initial move is the movement of the basketball with both arms and hands up to the shot pocket, while at the same time bending your knees and moving your head and eyes upward to site the bulls-eye target. This initial move is the timing step in the free throw motion that gets all the body parts coordinated.
It's very important to keep your eyes on your bulls-eye target (hoop entry point) while maintaining your balance during the initial move, while getting to and while in the shot pocket, during the release and finally during the follow through. Without balance at each point of motion along the way, shot accuracy is compromised.
It is suggested that when the grip is established your eyes are focused on the grip being set. After the grip is set, the head should tilt upward as the eyes begin to zero in on your hoop-entry bulls-eye target. It is at this crucial moment, which I call "the initial move", that all the other body parts are coordinated into action.
Loss of balance is apt to occur if the head falls too far forward, too far back or is tilted to the left or right. If the head gets out of balance, the shoulders will either lean backwards or be falling forward and then it's usually too late to make your best shot. By taking your time and being careful with your head tilt while targeting, you can ultimately groove and achieve perfect balance.