Thursday, July 18th, 2013 at 10:20 am  |  37 responses

Rick Barry Wants to Teach LeBron James How to Shoot Free Throws

Hall of Famer Rick Barry has offered his free-throw magic to just about every NBA superstar it seems. The latest to receive such an offer is LeBron James, and Barry says he doesn’t need to shoot his freebies underhanded to improve. Per Fox Sports: “The Miami Heat star vows to improve his free-throw shooting this summer and says he doesn’t need a shooting coach. But Barry disagrees with that approach and recommends somebody who could work on James’ technique, which he believes is slightly flawed. Himself. ‘If he was interested in getting my opinion, I would show him,’ the Hall of Famer, who shot 90 percent in his NBA career using the underhanded style, said. ‘I’m not going to show him the underhanded free throw. He doesn’t need that because he’s not that far away from being an 80-percent shooter. Dwight Howard (a 57.7 percent career marksman) needs to shoot underhanded. But there are some things I could show LeBron to refine his shooting.’ James shot 75.3 percent last season to raise his career mark to 74.7. That’s not bad but hardly spectacular. It’s one of the few parts of James’ game that isn’t great. After a season in which he won his second straight NBA title and fourth MVP trophy in five years, James discussed his offseason plans for improving his foul shooting. But he doesn’t plan to enlist any help. ‘I don’t need a shooting coach,’ James said. ‘For me, I think it’s just continue the repetition and then continue to work on it. During my workouts in (the) summertime, when I’m dead tired, those are opportunities where I should go to the free-throw line and challenge myself to calm my breath down and be able to go up there and make five in a row or make 10 in a row. … I think it’s more mental than anything.’ Heat president Pat Riley said ‘our goal is to get him over 90 percent.’ That prompted Barry to say, ‘First, he should shoot 80. You’re not a good free-throw shooter if you’re not shooting at least 80.’ [...] ‘The worst thing you can do is go out there and practice inappropriately,’ said Barry, who starred at the University of Miami and then in the NBA and ABA from 1965 to 1980. ‘Then you’re practicing inappropriately and grooming bad habits. … LeBron needs to be much more fluid (with his stroke). He needs to have somebody watching him to analyze him to make sure what he is doing is the absolute right thing because what is is doing right now is not the correct thing. He’s doing a disservice to himself if he’s just grooving what he’s doing now.’ Barry said one key to being a top-flight marksman is using the exact form for each shot. He said James has some minor flaws in his stroke, which makes it difficult to each time replicate the same movement.”

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  • Jay Cutler

    It’s one of the mysteries of the NBA, that even if players could shoot 99% on free throws underhanded, none of them would do it.

  • spit hot fiyah

    ray allen feels disrespected

  • bike

    I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that if Dwight started shooting free throws underhanded, his percentage would hover around 10 percent.

  • Ugh

    There’s a rumour Shaq tried it out in practice and was shooting 65%… but refused to do it in games because it looked ‘soft’.

  • Hailey Cayden

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  • Jay Cutler

    I believe it. It’s definitely all about masculinity.

    If you think about it though, if you can shoot much better underhanded but you don’t want to do it because of what people will think about your masculinity, isn’t that basically advertising how insecure you already are?

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    it would be hard for me to believe no shooting coach has ever tried to address LeBron’s issues. i would just assume LeBron hasn’t worked on the habit’s needed to correct those issues.

  • patrick

    i agree…lebron should work with more

  • patrick


  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    It’s all mental with him. Remember ESPN made a big deal about him working with Ray Allen? We saw him use to same routine during the series with Chicago but after a few misses he reverted back to his old routine.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    How dare you speak logically.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    well it’s some small stuff. For instance, LeBron has a hitch in his FT where he bring the ball past his release point on the way up, “gathers” at about his forehead, and then returns his follow through back to the point he just past on his way up. it’s wasted energy. and it is extra movement. the things Ray Allen worked with him on were related to his feet, and how he used his legs. i didn’t really see any news that Allen actually did anything with his release. which makes sense, because that hitch never really went away.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    If you look at the game against the Bulls, I think Game 4, his form look similar to Ray’s and lacked that hitch you’re talking about. I don’t agree with him that he doesn’t need a shooting coach because he’s practicing bad habits and he needs a coach to steer him away from those habits.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    Right, it seems like Ray’s way of shooting is minimalist. I assume he just had LeBron on his toes and told him to shoot immediately as he brought the ball up. the gather was slight, but it never went away. and as you said, a lot of it was mental. the more comfortable he seemed, the less movement was involved in his release. if you look at those mid range jump shots he was hitting when he was feeling it, that was the release he should bring with him to the free throw line imo.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Agreed. I always thought that your form when you shoot a jumper should be the same form when you hit the free throw line.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    that’s what most guys teach, when i teach shooting i always try and stress that your free throw should be the most simple form of your jumper. but that all ties into the process i go through to teach shooting. idk if it should really be “the same” or “simplified” — i’m the only person i know who has coached shooting that tries to simplify a jump shot when moving it over to the FT line, instead of trying to emulate the same shot no matter the situation.

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    I think the method of teaching varies. In high school I shot my free throws the way I shot my jumpers and shot 91%. If you it works for you than that’s great whatever way you can to get that % up.

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    i agree wholeheartedly.

  • danpowers

    unfortunately for whatever reason that never worked for me. when i used my jump shot shooting form ive always been around 70% from the line and around 80% when using different mechanics which kind of influenced my jump shot negatively. dont have an explanation for that

  • http://soundcloud.com/tray-8 T-Ray

    Not sure why that is. My dad made me shoot the same way at an early age so I think it was just muscle memory for me. Same touch, arm motion, and leg motion.

  • danpowers

    never had that as i started playing bball pretty late at 13 in a basketball desert. i would have k*lled for any mentoring like that. my strenghts were more about physique, god given bball iq and hustle stuff, but in 18 years ive never been able to get a good jumpshot, except good free throw shooting, which was mostly pretty decent (the 80% is an in game number).

  • pposse

    lebrons forearm and biceps are too big, i dont think a guy at his size will ever have proper ft mechanics

  • http://twitter.com/sooperfadeaway nbk

    It’s not about his physical attributes. He doesn’t have a hitch when he’s shooting off the dribble in rhythm. That shot that sealed the title is a great example.

  • JL

    It’s all about the process, not the end result! Oh wait. Well who are we to doubt them. They are pro’s in the NBA. I play pickup games. And even for me I still wouldn’t shoot it underhanded.

  • JL

    80% in game is truly excellent!

  • cut fastball

    No need. Why? He already won 2 chips.

  • grgeblck

    no man will ever say money is enuf.

  • Shooting Guard

    lebron will be just fine

  • danpowers

    below 40% from the field wasnt tho lol

  • MaxwelPrinceton

    Then he would be 50-40-90 instead of 50-40-75.

  • Vin Smith

    …I once watched an old man, who made his living touring the nation shooting free throws at schools. He never missed. Never. Why can’t an NBA player learn how to do that?

  • Jacob

    I met him at a basketball camp, he knocked in 200 in a row while talking the whole time. Crazy what practice can do.

  • Martian

    This guy’s doing everything to get into the spotlight! First the Allen three, now this?! Get a job man!

  • Scott

    Rick Barry, u are a fool, there’s now way u can teach a pro how to shoot free throws. if that was possible Shaq, Dwight would have been good at it.
    Lebron should go back to Hakeem for an encore and pay no attention to ego laden Rick Barry !!

  • http://www.newrichreport.com/gymalien GymAlien

    Rick Barry is a master at shooting.. but not teaching. If they don’t come to you begging for your help, you can’t help ‘em. I know for a fact that I could help dozens of NBA players with their shot (if only they would believe I could help). But so what? Even the GymAlien is helpless against a lack of faith in a coach

  • http://www.newrichreport.com/gymalien GymAlien

    Shaq started to get better as did Dwight after working with Palubinskas; then his head got big, stopped working with him, and he went right back to his old bad habits (as did Dwight).

  • Heat Peat

    I must be missing something here. Ricky Barry shot his free throws underhand style… but he doesn’t think LeBron should shoot underhand… but Barry didn’t shoot free throws in the more common style, so why does he presume to be some sort of authority at it?