A pre-shot routine will help you clear your mind and tap into your muscle memory, something extremely important to being a good free throw shooter. Since my early days of playing competitive basketball, I have always flipped the basketball with backspin twice before collecting myself and taking the shot. It is what feels comfortable. It is up to you to find what routine feels best and then repeat it every single time you go to the line.
Think of Shooting Free Throws as a Chain Reaction
When you shoot a free throw you start by bending your legs, extending, and then moving your arms upward until you release the basketball toward the hoop with a good follow through. Think of this process as a chain of events, where timing is critical. The best free throw shooters have this timing down to a science, which is why they rarely miss. While poor free throw shooters struggle with making sure each link of the chain is in sync.
Practice, Practice, Practice
One of the most enjoyable personal competitions I have is to see how many free throws I can make in a row. This is a great simple game for a couple reasons. The first is that by shooting a bunch of free throws you are going to develop the muscle memory necessary to be a good shooter at the line. Secondly, the pressure of each free throw slowly builds as you get closer to your personal consecutive makes record, which allows you to better handle the pressure of an in game situation. Make sure to do your pre-shot routine each time when doing this drill.
Envision That You Are By Yourself
This last tip is more about the psychology of shooting free throws. When at the free throw line during a game envision that you are by yourself shooting the free throw. Also imagine yourself at the place where you generally practice your free throws. This is often your driveway withyour own hoop, or at the local gym. Mentally taking yourself to where you have practiced your free throw shooting will alleviate pressure, and you will fall back on the important muscle memory that made you a great free throw shooter in the first place.
By making a point to practice these guidelines, I have little doubt that majority of you will improve your free throw shooting in short order.