Most basketball experts think that the difference in most games between evenly matched teams comes directly down to foul shooting, especially late in close games.
However, the foul shot made or missed in the early parts or any part of the game is just as important as one made or missed at the end of a game. The made and especially the missed is remembered more if it happens at the end of a close game an a player can be either a hero or a goat depending on if he/she makes or misses the foul shot and their team wins or looses.
The biggest difference of pressure on the foul shooter comes late in the game not only because of the score but because of fatigue in tired legs.
Players need to use more legs in shooting foul shots when tired.
A little trick that can be also used late in games is to have your foul shooters take more than the usual amount of time to take the foul shot. Usually players take about 3 to 4 seconds to get off their free throw. Have a traffic light red and green play called from the bench.
Green means shoot the foul shot as usual but if red is called by the coach then the foul shooter takes 7-8 seconds to shoot and then watch what happens to the defensive players on the marked lane spaces.
Usually one of them will step into the lane line before the ball is released by the foul shooter creating a violation which will allow another foul shot if it is missed.
Foul shooting is one thing that is the same for any player shooting from the standard 15 foot line from the front of the backboard. It is 13′ 9″ from the center of the rim, the basket is 18 inches in diameter, you have 10 seconds to shoot once the official bounces you the ball and there is no one trying to guard you.
It is the same in a high school game as it is in a college or NBA game. It is the one basketball skill that you can compare yourself with star NBA and College players.
However, to improve foul shooting, never shoot more then what you would in a game in a row and that is usually 2 shots, unless fouled on a three point attempt.
Develop a foul shooting ritual. Do the same thing over and over again, Hold the ball the same, do not dribble on the line as you take your eyes of the target, aim for the middle of the rim, and make sure your shoulders and feet are squared to the basket with the shooting foot lined up with the middle of the front of the basket and the non-shooting foot lined up with the outside edge of the rim and 6 inches back from the foul line.
Also, it wouldn’t hurt to put a dot on the middle of your sneaker of the shooting side foot so as to line the spot up with the dot that is marked on most foul lines in the center of the foul line. and you will know that your shooting side foot is lined up directly with the middle of the front of the rim.
Foul shooting may well determine the winners of many tournament games and should not be overlooked by players and coaches.
Foul shooting percentages for any level should be as follows:
Below Average=Anything below 60%