Wednesday, May 8th, 2013 at 11:10 am  |  46 responses

Ray Allen Working to Fix LeBron James’ Free-Throw Shooting

It turns out that Ray Allen does more than spot up for three-pointers for the Miami Heat. The veteran guard also moonlights as LeBron James’ personal free-throw shooting coach. The two are working together in an effort to fix the one weakness in LBJ’s game. Per the Heat’s team website: “A career 74.7 percent free-throw shooter, James has never hit the 80 percent mark for a regular or post season. And it’s just about the only benchmark the four-time MVP has yet to hit after topping 40 percent from three this year. If James has a weakness, it’s hitting, not getting, free-throws. And he knows it. ‘I need and I want to shoot in the 80s,’ James said during the Heat’s week off. ‘That’s my next goal, my free-throw shooting.’ As it turns out, the Path to 80 has James not only trying to match Allen free-throw for free-throw after practice, but trying to match Allen’s mechanics in games in the second round of the playoffs. [...] ‘That’s what we’ve been working on, trying not to get him to dip,’ said Allen, a career 89.4 percent shooter. ‘That dip is what puts the ball in a weird position. It’s interesting because his mechanics, if you watch them when he misses – I’ve studied him shooting them a lot – that dip puts him in a bad position to where he starts trying to move the ball in different places and he ends up missing in different places. We’ve talked about it. He understands it. I just watch him and try to give him information and he seems like he has better confidence. I don’t know if he adopted my routine, I think he just goes to what’s comfortable for him. Looks good. He missed two free throws [last night] but he looks like he has a greater deal of confidence when he’s on the line. Just how he shoots it looks a lot more fluid. Our little free throw games, they’re definitely helping him.’ [...] ‘The other thing I told him, I said, ‘Sometimes you can have great form and you just miss,’ Allen said. ‘You didn’t do anything wrong, you just sometimes miss.’”

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  • jmm

    I noticed the difference in form watching him the other night and was wondering if Ray had something to do with it – still looks a little stiff to me though? Legs are very straight.

  • The Philosopher

    It is all about repetition.
    Constant repetition.
    If The King is shooting 500 a day, he has to shoot 1,000 a day.
    If he is shooting 1,000 a day, he has to shoot 1,500 a day.
    And so on.

  • Michael Fang

    Yea me too I thought it just looked a bit smoother and the motion a bit more natural. Hopefully it pushes him up a bit more because I still worry everytime he steps up to the line in a tight game

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    <3 Ray Allen. Glad someone has finally recognized and focused on that extra movement, that sh*t's been bothering me since 2003

  • Caboose

    This book seriously changed my game:


    I went from a 60% shooter to 85% in literally less than 2 months. It’s absolutely incredible. Dude who wrote it holds the record for most free throws in a row with 2,750 over a 12 hour period, meaning he made one shot every 15 seconds for half of a day.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Straight legs is how Ray shoots his free throws. He is a shooting minimalist. The less movement the better.

  • chyea

    I don’t know. I’m not sure if Lebron’s shooting mechanics will allow him to be a consistent 80% FT shooter. At this point of his career, he is pretty much stuck with the form that he has.

  • jmm

    I’m certainly not going to argue with Ray, but I’ve always been taught that knee bending was an important part of good FT shooting – right up there with being on the balls of your feet.

  • Bandwagonfan

    Yea hhes like bending his knee for a while. The way he bends is different from usual and looked bit funny. But his freethrows were quite improved

  • http://twitter.com/_DFrance DFrance

    It’s all about what’s comfortable to you. Knees bent are part of the basics of shooting but it’s not set in stone. Look at Chauncey Billups shoot a free throw. It’s almost all arms and wrist, barely bends his knees and stays flat footed, but he’s a career 90% shooter.

  • http://twitter.com/_DFrance DFrance

    I think having an elaborate routine hurts people. I remember back in Cleveland he had a really bad FT shooting stretch and he was doing this silly kiss his wrists thing (I’m assuming he has some kind of tat there) before each shot. He dropped it and immediately started shooting better. FT are as much mental as they are physical. Durant shoots 90 and shoots each shot like he only has 3 seconds to get it off, he just knows they’re going in.

  • ATL dynamite

    I’m definitely getting a copy, thanks mate

  • Caboose

    It just makes it so incredibly simple. I haven’t played competitively in about 4 years, and haven’t read the book in about 6, but I still remember every step of it.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    As a child it’s a lot harder to consistently shoot a ball 15 feet at a 10 foot high rim without using your legs. One you are a professionaly athlete that extra strength provided from the use of your legs is much much much less important in a consistent release.

  • http://www.facebook.com/simon.ly.1029 Simon Ly

    he’s probably only half-way through his career, he still got time

  • Max

    And then share what’s in it with the Slamily?

  • Dagger

    Given the radical improvement in his shot overall, I wouldn’t be so sure.

  • Caboose

    I recall almost all of it, want me to share?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Go ahead. I plan on asking questions though.

  • Caboose

    Let me think:

    Find the painters circle (center of the free throw line), position directly over it.

    Bend knees lightly.

    Find the inflatable hole on the ball. Line your hand up such that your thumb runs right along the rubber indent that is 2 below the hole latitudinally. Then, your middle finger should point directly at the hole.

    Bounce the ball exactly three times. Do not dribble the ball, it is bounce.

    Do not spin the ball. If you bounced properly, you should hardly need to readjust your hand.

    Extend your shooting hand towards the basket, almost as though about to shoot, but don’t break your wrist.

    Visualize a cylinder that extends 3 feet up from the rim. Aim to get the ball in the cylinder, not in the rim.

    Your off hand should be on the exact side of the ball, with fingers almost straight.

    Then, bring the ball back closer to your chest, stand up with your knees, and gently accelerate your arms. The wrist should lightly come through, not flick.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    He doesn’t say anything about position of the feet? Or the shoulders?
    “Then, bring the ball back closer to your chest, stand up with your knees, and gently accelerate your arms. The wrist should lightly come through, not flick.”
    - Closer to your chest? What about your shooting arm and the position of your elbow?
    Seems more like a guide then a literal teaching tool doesn’t it?

  • Caboose

    Sorry, shoulders completely square, feet pointed forward, shoulder width apart.

    Yes, it’s definitely more of a guide, which is what I preferred.

    As in, if the ball is extended forward, you bring your elbow down, and the ball comes naturally towards your chest.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    My issue is he leaves out some of the most important aspects of basic FT shooting.
    For instance,
    - Your feet? The lead foot (foot on the side of your shooting hand) should, for balance purposes, be slightly infront of the off foot.
    - I was more referring to the angle of your elbow.
    - I am unsure about this towards your chest, it makes it sound like you bring the ball in perpendicular to your chest, rather than parallel to your body.
    Does he speak of the actual follow through? Like that it should be up and not out?
    Not trying to criticize, I just don’t really like learning to shoot from books, i feel like so many details get left out, or are not easy to understand through language.

  • Caboose

    Haha it’s very detailed, don’t go by my butchering of it. There’s a reason I liked it, he made it very simple, I just can’t recall exactly everything he said.

  • Max

    Look like you allready did.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    haha dammit, now i’ma have to find a copy

  • Max

    Mhm, I do all those things exept the visualization of that cylinder 90 cm (f*ck feet and sh*t) above the rim.
    I’ll def try that out tomorrow.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    instead of the Cylinder thing, just try and hit the metal right below the dead center of the back of the rim (with arch of course lol).

  • TR

    Repetition is the only way. Once you have your routine down and can step to the line confidently, the rest is easy. In LeBron’s case I wonder if he ever tried not dribbling. I dont know why, but i feel like that could work for him. Less thinking involved.

  • Max

    I got tought that way, trying to aim for the back of the rim, but that just feels unnatural to me.
    I always just look at the front of the rim.
    I think I can change the way I shoot my ft’s so it improves tho.
    I’ll try all this good stuff out tomorrow.

  • Caboose

    It’s like 6 bucks on Amazon. It really is worth a read, simply because this guy really is the best in the world. I mean, I think dude was in his 70′s when he broke the record.

  • Bruce Wayne

    Different methods can work for different people, but usually, bending the knees allows for good rhythm when bringing the ball up to shoot..

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    I love shooting. Just look forward to seeing how other “experts” (yeah I’m an expert) describe/approach it.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    The logic behind the back of the rim opposed to the front, is that it’s typically better to shoot long rather than short.

  • http://twitter.com/AjpDos Allen Powell

    Great answer

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Hey thanks

  • Darksaber

    Yet another tip of the hat to LBJ and his (under-reported in my opinion) work ethic and lack of ego when it comes to being a better all-around player.
    You have one of the greatest shooters on your team, ask for some help.
    These kind of stories are more motivational to me than the usual rarr rarrr.

  • justanotherslamfan

    im playing in oceania region for s*** money but i shoot Fts in the 85% and i stay on my toes and use almost no legs. what you describe sounds like my form growing up as a kid

  • justanotherslamfan

    well said

  • http://www.facebook.com/starkpwnsyou Joshua Maria Peter Bautista

    Kind of like using a sniper rifle, eh?

  • http://www.facebook.com/starkpwnsyou Joshua Maria Peter Bautista

    How about teaching LeBron how to shoot like yourself so that we can just give the next 8 MVPs to LeBron and the next 4 championships to Miami, Ray?

  • JL

    Totally. Look at Dwight Howard. He basically is down to no movement, only wrist flick, and he’s still too strong to control that marble. I guess being too strong works against your FT shooting. Though I’m not sure how much weaker LBJ is compared to Dwight.

  • jmm

    There you go. I haven’t had coaching since school, so it would make sense my form hasn’t evolved. Playing in Australia?

  • http://twitter.com/LuisBrownish Luis Moreno

    The mamba bends his knees. The way he does it works for me because I used to be atrocious.

  • http://www.facebook.com/epalubinskas Ed Palubinskas

    His angle of release is too high and his knuckles bend during the release. Also his fingers are too close together and bend to the floor. All extra movement. Accuracy is all in the hand and fingers or minor muscles. I HAVE 1% HUMAN ERROR AFTER SHOOTING 99% FOR 30 YEARS. MY SHOT DEVIATION IS .013 thousandths AND ARC ANGLE IS 45.4 DEGREES AFTER HUNDREDS MADE CONSECUTIVELY.ALL MONITORED AND COMPUTERIZED. Actually measure by NOAHS ARC at a final four few years back. Study the missed shot and trace it back to which fingers are responsible for what percentage of energy dispersed to which portion of the ball. All this talk about the stupid nail in the floor, watching back of rim etc are all nebulous criteria and carry no weight. All myths. 80-% of shots are crooked or off center. seems to me this is a major problem that needs major attention.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fouina.haskins Fouina Haskins