Collaboration / Instruction / Research / Statistics / Competition

Established in November of 2009 by a group of free throw masters and world record holders with a mission to improve free throw shooting at all levels.


Jim "Makevery" Schatz

Before becoming a 98% free-throw master, I was a professional athlete,
teacher, coach, author, founder, and a program - tournament director.
I was an accomplished open level tennis player, and at 29, I switched
to racquetball. I played and coached on the RB pro tour. I became a
racquetball pro tour qualifier, eventually being ranked in the top 50
in the early days of racquetball. I founded the Southern California
Racquetball Association. In college, I played six-man volleyball as a
reserve setter on the SMCC team that won the National College
Championship in 1967. (Santa Monica City College) 

I retired from sports at age 37, leaving behind a racquetball program and pro shop at the Family Fitness Center in Beverly Hills, to take over the family business, Ray Stop Window Tinting Since 1958, when my father got sick. Ten years later, at 47, I decided to reenter sports but in basketball. I took basketball shooting lessons for several years from a coach named Kenny Kroft. Kenny was considered the best shooting coach in the Los Angeles area at that time. Ken is known for developed Don McLean (UCLA scoring leader, 11 year NBA journeyman, and TV basketball announcer) and being a student and counselor for
Johnny Wooden.

Eventually, after taking lessons and watching Ken teach, I decided I wanted to become a basketball shooting coach. Teaching the fundamentals and practice system Ken had taught me. Around this time, I found a new book written by Dr. Tom Anberry entirely about the Free Throw, titled Seven Steps to Free Throw Success. Dr. Tom was considered the World Champion of Free Throw then due to his Guinness record of 2,750 free throw made in a row, ending on a make and all the gold medals he won in Senior Games free throw competition. Dr. Tom lived in Long Beach at that time, and he was close enough to set up a lesson. In my first lesson, I learned the importance of keeping daily practice records, and we found out I was a 68% free throw shooter in practice. It took me nine months to become a 90% free throw shooter in practice, and another six months to grow proficient at 98%. Along the way, I discovered I had an attention deficit, mood disorder. I practiced for many hours every day, but my
lack of perfect focus and concentration made my journey to mastery of free-throw take longer to achieve. But my reliable will power and persistence finally prevailed.

Dr. Tom was just as frustrated as I, at the time, it was taking me to gain mastery, so Dr. Tom presented me with a thesis written by his friend, Dr. Jim Poteet, called the Paradox of Free Throw. Dr. Poteet's book explained the mental side of performance, and from that day forth, I had very little trouble focusing and concentrating long enough to make long strings of makes in a row, often making 100 free throws in a row or more.

I became a weekly practice partner of Dr. Tom's for many years. Finally Dr. Tom stopped shooting, so he introduced me to Fred Newman, who had five basketball shooting Guinness records. Fred and I became good friends, and practice partners up until Fred died in 2014.

Finally, in 2009, I completed my unpublished seven-chapter book on free-throw mastery titled, "The Guide To Free Throw Mastery - Beyond Expectation." I used my free throw mastery book as my introduction to meeting other experts. I was then able to form the National Basketball Shooters Association. The first thing I did with this group of experts was to have all of them exchange their instructional materials.

What has become apparent is that having excellent or proper modern, game time, basketball shooting fundamentals does not guarantee mastery. Many of the very best free-throw masters and record-holders do not have proper technique. All you have to do is watch these elite masters on video, masters like Dr. Tom Amberry, Fred Newman, or Ted St. Martin. Every one of these great shooters is not fundamentally sound.

So this proves that becoming a great shooter in basketball from the free-throw line requires much more than perfect shooting technique. You need to know and be able to visualize the physics of the shot. It would help if you were determined, disciplined, have good character, good work habits, and the ability to develop your focus and concentration for long periods.

Recently I began working on improving my shooting technique and fundamentals with NBSA founder and free-throw mastery teacher/coach Eddie Paluibinsksas. Eddie is known as Shaq's free throw coach when he was a Laker. The reason I'm so willing and interested to improve my shooting fundamentals is that I am always looking for ways to improve and that I am a student first.

I teach elite master shooters and professional basketball players game time shooting fundamentals and techniques, so I place a lot of emphasis on being able to demonstrate correctly. 

The Guide To Free Throw Mastery
Beyond Expectation
Jim "Makevery" Schatz 

© Jim Schatz 2009                          

by Dr. Tom Amberry
World Champion of Free Throw

Jim "Makevery" Schatz came to me for free-throw coaching in 1997. Initially I had heard about his coaching and athletic accomplishments in tennis and racquetball but at that time I had no idea how much heart, patience, persistence and motivation he has proved to have. I consider Jim to be the number one authority on free throw today.

His 35 years of being coached and coaching professional athletes and his ability to execute his knowledge at the free-throw line makes him one of the very best shooting coaches and teachers of free throw in the game of basketball. Jim has advanced my knowledge of teaching and coaching and today I can thank him. I'm very proud of him and how he exemplifies The 7 Step, Focus and Concentration Free Throw Shooting System.

If Jim "Makevery" Schatz decides to break my 1993 Guinness consecutive free-throw record of 2,750 in a row ending on a make, which I know he can, he will prove he is worthy of the title World Champion of Free Throw. I hope he does. That would help prove once and for all that my work at the free-throw line was not in vain. That would also substantiate that The 7 Step, "Make Every" Free Throw Shooting System, using the air hole for the center of focus and concentration is the only way to shoot.

Every aspiring basketball coach, player, shooting expert and free-throw master needs to own this book, The Guide To Free Throw Mastery - Beyond Expectation. Jim's book is exactly that: beyond expectation.

by Fred Newman

Owner of five Guinness free-throw records, 98% free-throw master in competition since 2007, considered the number one free-throw shooter in the world today and owner of a three-point consecutive record of 209 in a row

I met Jim "Makevery" Schatz in the year 2000 at the Santa Monica YMCA where I used to practice shooting free throws most mornings. He didn't introduce himself right away. It was just him and me alone in the gym shooting free throws. I was at one side of the gym and he was at the other. I didn't know who he was but I kept noticing he was making every shot. I never saw him miss.

Jim eventually came over and introduced himself to me. He told me his name including the "Makevery" and told me his free-throw coach, Dr. Tom Amberry, suggested we meet. He also told me he had just made 100 out of 102 free throws and that we lived close to each other.

We became good friends after that day, occasionally seeing each other at local senior free-throw tournaments, Jim winning his age group and I winning mine. About four years ago we started practicing together regularly at Cal Tech, in Pasadena, where I currently work and also went to college. 

Since we met, I have been following Jim’s efforts to write what I feel is the best book ever on free throw. I'm extremely happy to see he has finally finished it. As he has been proclaiming all along, it's way beyond expectation. By making free-throw as easy as many say it looks, this book is going to trigger an improvement trend never before imagined. 

No player or coach can expect to reach their full potential without reading and owning The Guide To Free Throw Mastery - Beyond Expectation. If there eventually is any substantial prize money in making free throws I will hire Jim as my coach. That way I won't have to shoot against him. Look out basketball, you are in for some great improvements in shooting.
Between the in-breath and the out-breath
A whisper that centers the soul:  "The best you can be." 

Table of Contents

Foreword Dr. Tom Amberry

Chapter I Getting Started: The Important Aspects of Free Throw
Chapter II The Physical Plane
Chapter III The Mental Plane
Chapter IV Your Unique Ritual and Style
Chapter V Perfect Practice
Chapter VI Amazing Free-Throw Mastery Feats, Amazing Kids and Records
Chapter VII For Team Coaches: Free-Throw Mastery Team Program

Appendix Free-throw Competitions and Contacts 



Last year, more than three million kids (boys and girls, ages eight to thirteen) lined up at the free-throw line to compete for a coveted spot in the national skills free-throw program, the Elks 43rd 36th Annual National Hoop Shoot. Practicing for months on end, and triumphing in local, district, state and regional contests, the dedicated and focused finalists were rewarded with an all-expense-paid trip with their family to the national championships. The six national champions will have their names enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts. [PHOTO]

The Elks National Hoop Shoot is merely one of countless similar youth free-throw programs: The Knights of Columbus, the Junior NBA/WNBA, the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, Parks and Recreation, countless youth basketball associations, elementary and middle schools—all told, more than 25 million youths are shooting free throws in organized youth games and skills competitions in the USA alone. Millions more play and shoot free throws all over the world. Basketball today has indeed become the most popular of all youth sports.

Ask basketball's top ten, "What is the most impressive shot in basketball?" and you'll get a variety of answers—Michael Jordan's awe-inspiring slam dunk, Robert Horry’s mind-bending, big-game-ending three-pointer, Kobie Bryant’s reality-twisting Alley-oop—each and every one an amazing accomplishment.
But ask these same experts, "What is the most important shot in basketball?" and their answers will be one and the same: the free-throw.

Did you know that the free throw is the most important skill in basketball? Points scored at the free-throw line constitute some 22.5 percent of the total points scored in an official game. 

Yet surprisingly, until twelve years ago, every skill in basketball was improving except the free throw. In 1996, for example, the NBA's free-throw average was a dismal 68 percent. Today, teaching and coaching of the free throw has become highly advanced. And now, in 2008, the NBA free-throw league average is approximately 77 percent, and improving yearly. Much of that advancement is in defining and understanding the mental plane. 

During practice, the free-throw line is where "pure" shooting fundamentals are developed and refined. The world's best free-throw shooters practice shooting free throws every day. Not only are they the best free-throw shooters, but as a result of their excellent fundamentals, disciplined daily practice and dedication, they are also basketball's best "pure" shooters from the field. 

The Guide To Free Throw Mastery clearly defines the universal fundamentals and practice systems used and endorsed by the world's best free-throw shooters to help you develop and perfect your own unique free-throw ritual and style. The mental skills required for free-throw mastery are the same required to achieve any great goal in life. The Guide To Free

Throw Mastery’s goal is one and the same: To instill the physical and mental skills required for you to consistently make 90 percent or better of your free throws, and in the process develop the highest level of confidence imaginable for mastering the free throw…and life itself. 
This book offers an improved and proven daily free-throw practice system originally taught to me by free-throw world champion, Dr. Tom Amberry, and then modified with on-the-line education, experience and in-depth analysis with other world free-throw champions. When I began shooting free throws daily in practice, my average was 68 percent. After Dr. Tom’s instructions and his advice to start keeping records of my daily shooting, within a short period of time I reached my goal of making 90 percent of my free throws. During that period I missed practice only a handful of times and averaged making more than 500 free throws per day. Within seven months of that, I became a 98 percent free-throw master in practice. I went from 68% to 98% in fifteen months. I felt I had to be that good in order to teach effectively and do exhibitions and demonstrations.

Practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. And if you follow the instructions in this book patiently and precisely, you are practically guaranteed success—not in one or two years, but right here, right now.


by Dr. Tom Amberry

World Free-throw Champion

A free-throw is a gift: Get fouled and you go to the free-throw line to shoot uncontested free throws. The points scored from making free throws account for approximately 22.5 percent of the total points scored in a basketball game, with most of the free throws coming at the most critical time at the end of the fourth quarter, especially in the final minute. That makes free-throw execution an extremely vital part of the success of a basketball game especially since games are most often decided by a margin of one to three points.

You stand alone at the free-throw line with your mind (understanding), muscles (physical condition), heart (emotional training) and your beliefs (spiritual development). If you are using focus and concentration in your winning ritual you will make your best shot all the time. 

This mental habit of focus and concentration helps in not only improving free-throw shooting, but also in accomplishing anything you want to do in life. I've come to this conclusion: In everything we do, whether in sports or business, in trying to achieve a life goal we are more limited by our beliefs than our abilities. The obstacles to success exist more in the mind than in the physical world. 

Those who excel at the aspects of shooting a basketball that others find boring and repetitive create their own zone. When in the zone you know you are going to be at your best every time on your free throws or shots during play. What is the highest level of performance you can achieve? Write a realistic estimate of your talents and add 10 percent more toward your new goal. Stick with it! Focus and concentrate on "making every" free throw.

There are no secrets to success…don't waste your time looking for them. To achieve success, whatever the task, we must pay a price. It's like anything worthwhile. It has a price. You have to get to the point where success is possible. More important, you must pay the price required beyond that expectation in maintaining that success. Success is not a "sometimes" thing. In other words, you can't do what is right once in a while. You must do what's right all the time! SUCCESS is a habit. Unfortunately, so is failure.

I know success comes at the free-throw line in basketball as the result of perfect practice, focus, concentration, character, proper work habits, persistence, learning from mistakes and especially the love of the game. Just reading these words is not the same as experiencing, feeling and knowing the success they produce. Perfect practice makes perfect execution. 

What helps toward this perfection is setting your first goal just out of reach and within the realm of your own possibility—a goal set high enough that the idea of achievement really excites you. Your excitement will give you an excellent chance of reaching that goal! 

The willingness and persistence to develop perfect practice using focus and concentration makes a champion. The fundamentals of free-throw shooting can be perfected shot by shot following the same seven steps explained in my book, Free Throw – 7 Steps to Success and further explained and demonstrated in more detail in Jim "Makevery" Schatz's book,
The Guide To Free Throw Mastery – Beyond Expectation.

Chapter III

The Mental Plane 

The physical fundamentals of free-throw can be viewed visually in the physical plane, but the mental plane; that is, a shooter's thoughts are impossible to see or know through casual observation. In the past, basketball players and coaches have not had the exact science and knowledge to understand how the mind works and how the mind should think or not think during the free-throw process. This chapter explains the mental side of consistent optimal performance at the free-throw line.

Free-throw masters are “in the flow,” “in the zone,” and at their peak of performance all the time. They have developed skills and inner qualities that enhance their disciplined practice, attention, focus, and concentration. Free-throw masters are able to synchronize mind and body to perform in the here and now without conscious thought.

You could say that free-throw mastery is similar to Zen in the art of archery, except instead of a bow and arrow, a basketball is used to find the center of the hoop and the bulls-eye target. It has been said by a Zen master, "The bulls-eye target finds the center of you."


"The life masters, occult and spiritual teachers of humanity, who have attained the peak of inner development, are said to be in eternal silence, using their mental powers only when necessary to communicate with earthly humans. Solitude is the inner silence. It is in man's mind. But man attached to things of outer life cannot get solitude, for his mind is not controlled nor silenced." - Mouni Sadhu, Meditation

There are certain conditions that influence the success of inner development and physical prowess. First, you must recognize that you are not your mind. The mind should be your servant, like a machine that you shift into gear. How often do thoughts enter your mind without your permission? Where do these uninvited thoughts come from? Learn to control your thoughts, emotions, attention, focus, and concentration and gain control over your inner development and life.

"Developing your mental powers and concentration leads much further than the mere capacity for one-pointedness of mind. Actual success means nothing less than the understanding of the mind's nature and source. The problem is that the interests of both man and his mind are often opposed." - Mouni Sadhu, Concentration - A Guide To Mental Mastery

I believe in John Wooden's definition of success. The greatest basketball coach of all time, he said, "Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming."


We know that practicing to make every shot at the free-throw line can develop pure shooting fundamentals. We also know that pure shooting fundamentals lead to higher scoring in a basketball game. More important than those/these two truths is that practicing to make every shot at the free-throw line is the ideal method and medium for developing attention, focus, and concentration on the court and in all walks of life.

As you develop self-discipline, strong will power, a positive attitude, good physical and mental health, high morality, good judgement, good character, lack of bad habits, persistence and patience, you will experience a longer attention span, stronger focus, and more powerful concentration.

Definition of Attention

“Attention is the cognitive process of selective concentration on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things.” - Wikipedia + link in footnote

“Attention span is the amount of time a person can concentrate on a task without becoming distracted. Most educators and psychologists agree that the ability to focus one's attention on a task is crucial for achievement of one's goals.” - Wikipedia + link in footnote

“Everyone knows what attention is. It is the taking possession by the mind, in clear and vivid form, of one out of what seem several simultaneously possible objects or trains of thought. It implies withdrawal from things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state which in French is called distraction, and Zerstreut Heit in German.” William James, Principles of Psychology. footnote the following source with link. Quoted at

Developing a longer attention span requires commitment and practice. By combining the physical and the mental, free-throw training is a great technique for improving one’s attention. Free-throw practice takes advantage of natural physical impulsiveness and “hyper” tendencies and refines them into fine motor skills enhanced with continually narrowing mental focus and concentration.

Attention span generally increases as we age. Babies can concentrate for a few seconds; young adults can maintain attention on the average up to 20 minutes. As a person matures, their attention improves. This might explain why many of the best skill free-throw masters are over 55 years old. By that age impulsiveness and hyperactivity have diminished biologically due to a combination of slowed metabolism and life experience.

Definition of Focus and Flow

As defined by Webster's dictionary, focus has several meanings: 1) Point of greatest intensity; 2) Point at which converging rays of light, heat or waves of sound meet; 3) To obtain a clear image.

As described by Wikipedia, Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by feelings of energized focus, full involvement and success in the process of the activity.

Definition of Concentration

“The Latin origin of the English word concentration has a clear and definite meaning. It refers to that which has a common, center, or is moving towards a center, and is best expressed by the term ‘one pointedness’.” - Mouni Sadhu, Concentration - A Guide To Mental Mastery

"The average mind is cluttered with many thoughts and ideas thus making each thought and idea extremely weak. When there is one thought replacing the many useless thoughts it is a power in itself and has a wide influence. This type of strong concentrated thinking can account for the ideas that have come from great scientists and inventors, whose ideas are now serving humanity. Their ability to think solely about the subject to the exclusion of all else has proved the powers of the concentrated mind." - Mouni Sadhu, Concentration - A Guide To Mental Mastery

"Can you affirm with utter certainty that you always think only when and about what you really want to, and that therefore you know from where your thoughts and feelings come into the light of your consciousness? Can you withhold the entry or limit the duration of thoughts in your mind for as long as you wish?...the average man is not a good craftsman, because he cannot control his chief tool—the mind and its thoughts." - Mouni Sadhu, Concentration - A Guide To Mental Mastery

“A man's power of mental concentration is to a great extent his measure of greatness.” - William Walker Atkinson, Practical Mental Influence

The secret to controlling attention and "one-pointedness" lies in the exercise of self-discipline and willpower.

The power of the mind can be observed visually through a simple experiment. Take a glass of water and place a pin, oiled by some butter, on the top of the water’s surface. By solely concentrating, staring, and focusing all your mental energy on getting the pin to spin you can observe how powerful your mind can be when the pin spins. Any outside thought, other than getting the pin to spin, that enters your mind during the time you are staring and trying to spin the pin, will defeat your purpose by weakening your mental power. That's a demonstration of real mind over matter.

Another mental exercise for mental mastery is to silently stare at a clock’s second hand for as long as possible to see how long you can maintain concentration in silence before an uninvited thought enters your consciousness. The goal is to remain in silence for one minute, then two, then five and finally ten. This is a great mental exercise for developing mastery over your most important tool, the mind, and is similar to what's required to stay silent in the here and now during the ritual and process of shooting a free throw.


During the period that Dr. Tom Amberry was developing his free-throw ritual, unique style, and seven fundamental steps for mastery, and before he set his amazing Guinness consecutive free-throw record of 2,750 ending on a make, he was trying to make sure he gripped the basketball the same way on every shot. He realized that the air hole was the only universal element on all basketballs. He decided to use the air hole as a point of reference for establishing the same grip every time. [PHOTO]

Soon after that, he discovered that by using a two-handed crab dribble he could keep the air hole up while he slowly bounced the basketball. Then, while staring at the air hole, which was up on every bounce, he could establish his grip on the seams exactly the same every time. [PHOTO]

More important than establishing the perfect grip every time, he discovered that the act of looking at the basketball's air hole held his attention silently in one place for the length of time it took to shoot a free throw. He called this quiet state of mind, while hypnotically narrowing his focus on the air hole, focus and concentration.

One Thought at a Time

"Sometimes our minds seem hopelessly cluttered. While we are capable of many thoughts in rapid succession, we can only have one thought in our conscious mind at a time. If you make that thought negative, you pave the way towards failure. But make that one conscious thought positive and you have greatly increased your chances of succeeding." - Tom Amberry, Free Throw - 7 Steps to Success at the Free Throw Line.

It's important that we control our conscious thought process with positive words and visualizations. This act of remaining positive, one thought at a time, with selected words or thoughts keeps us in the here and now and is a requirement for free-throw mastery.

The Here and Now

No one can deny the power of positive thinking, but the real secret to success at the free-throw line is the ability to perform in the present moment called the here and now.

You cannot perform well when your mind is elsewhere. When your attention, focus, and concentration are in the here and now you are at your best. By being totally in the present moment, focused on your free-throw ritual, no distractions or negative thoughts are able to enter consciousness. By performing in the here and now the mind remains disciplined, still, quiet, and out of the way so the body can function subconsciously and do what it's been trained to do successfully.

The "Inner Game" was coined and developed by a sports guru by the name of Tim Gallwey. He wrote The Inner Game of Tennis and a number of other Inner Sports books. He discovered that while playing sports the mind is divided into two selves: Self One and Self Two.

Self One is an inner voice that is constantly being analytical, judgmental, and inhibits the Self Two's flow for an effortless performance. The other side of the mind, Self Two, is quiet, confident, and its potential is unlimited. When playing sports, Self One is constantly thinking and has an inner voice which is very disruptive, judgmental, and negatively interferes with Self Two's confidence, potential for mastery, and quiet nature.

Gallwey’s solution to the inner game problem was to recognize this natural split of the mind and learn to trust Self Two. To accomplish this he employed a technique that keeps the mind anchored in the here and now. In tennis he had his students say "bounce" the moment the tennis ball bounced and say "hit" the moment the tennis racket made contact with the ball. The purpose of saying "bounce" and "hit" is to keep Self One's voice busy and in the here and now, which let's Self Two perform subconsciously in the here and now and perform at its peak.

Actually the words "bounce" and "hit" are similar to a mantra. A mantra is a word or statement repeated over and over again. By repeating those words over and over the "active" mind stays busy and out of the way. Remember the mind can only think one thought at a time consciously. By keeping the mind, eyes, and ears busy anchored to the free-throw process, in the here and now, Self One stays out of the way of messing up the confident, sky's-the-limit Self Two.


The time dimension is made up by three time zones: the past, the present, and the future. When your thoughts are focused on something in the past or in the future you are not fully centered on the process of your performance as it takes place in the here and now. Your attention, eyes, and ears have to coordinate, connect and be in sync with your fundamentals and goal to make the free throw you are shooting.

Consistent central hoop entry and consistency in the seven fundamental steps demand your full attention, focus, and concentration. You need to be in sync with what you are trying to accomplish, otherwise you are engaging the mental cycle of failure. If your mind is wandering to the past or future before or during the time you are shooting, your mind is too active and elsewhere, divided against itself. The end result is a poor performance.


Being in the wrong place mentally means being preoccupied with outside thoughts that have nothing to do with the task at hand. Being in the wrong place mentally while shooting free throws is a disaster. Thinking about the coach, the crowd, winning or losing, or other concerns are forms of out-of-place focus. Those uninvited thoughts that come from nowhere and all of a sudden invade your mind are a real problem and also lead to the cycle of failure.

You must have your attention, focus, and concentration on the free-throw ritual and process which is what you can control. Never let your mind wander to another time or place or focus on the outcome or results or anything out of your control. When you are in the right place and time, the here and now, and focused on the ritual and free-throw process, there is no worry, the results automatically take care of themselves.

The Failure Cycle

The cycle of failure lays dormant and appears during or after a poor showing at the free-throw line in practice or in game performance. Once the cycle of failure starts, it's hard to stop its momentum. Before the failure cycle occurs you need to be armed with knowledge about how this mental cycle starts.

The cycle of failure is caused by mental errors. Unless you catch them as they occur, they get by your conscious mind and become buried in your subconscious. There they become mental habits that occur automatically over and over and become ever more difficult to weed out. Going into the next competition you may become preoccupied with past failures and overly concerned that they will happen again. That kind of thinking sets up performance anxiety, which sets in motion further failures resulting in the deterioration of confidence and functioning far below your potential.

The Mental Errors of the Failure Cycle

PAST. This is being in the wrong mental time zone. During free-throw practice and game-time performance it is important to remain in the here and now all the time. That is accomplished by staying in the moment, moment to moment. If your mind has a tendency to wander on its own, a mantra (positive word or words) may be repeated in between each shot.

The mantra or rehearsed positive word or words helps to eliminate the possibility of any thought entering your mind uninvited. A mantra also helps you to remain in the right time zone, the here and now, by quieting Self One's efforts to interfere. Allowing the mind to wander to anything in the past is a huge mental mistake that disrupts the subconscious performance and nearly always creates misses, lags in improvement, and a lack of confidence momentum.

FUTURE. This is also the wrong mental time zone and may be a function of not sticking with set practice procedures. Stepping out mentally from the set mantra, ritual, orderly visualizations and process in any manner is disruptive to the rhythm, pace, force, and flow of making each free throw and will limit reaching full potential.

An example of being in the wrong time zone in the future is thinking about the results or a future possibility such as winning and losing. If your mental time is not planned and scripted with a mantra and positive set visualizations, your thoughts become random and this randomness will negatively affect your best effort.

EXPECTATION. "Any kind of expectation creates a problem. We should accept, but not expect. Whatever comes, accept it. Whatever goes, accept it. The immediate benefit is that your mind is always peaceful." - Sri Swami Satchidananda

Expectation leads to conscious intervention and a busy mind. This upsets the natural flow in the subconscious, changing the heart rate, blood pressure, rhythm, pace, and force of the shot. It also lowers your confidence and slows your improvement.

In the case of uncertainty, expectation is considered the most likely to happen. An expectation, which is a belief that is centered on the future, may or may not be realistic. A less advantageous result from an expectation gives rise to the emotion of disappointment and can become a serious threat to internal validation.

Expectation is another mental error during practice or competition. Once the focus shifts away from the here and now, your mantra, ritual, positive visualizations, and free-throw process onto judging your performance, you lose the subconscious connection. The result is you lose your initiating rhythm and pace necessary to activate the proper chain of muscles. You also lose your ability to maintain the optimal arousal level and stay relaxed thus the active mind becomes busy, reactive, and hyper.

There is no point in being disappointed or involving the emotion of anger if the basketball doesn't enter the rim. The proper reaction to a miss is to see how it missed: long, short, left, right, flat, or too much arc. Involving your emotions sets off the cycle of failure and decreased confidence and slows the improvement of momentum.

REFLECTION means contemplation of one's self. Contemplating yourself—how you look or what other people might be thinking about you, for example—is the wrong focus while practicing or performing at the free-throw line. Reflecting takes you out of the here and now. When your focus is on yourself, this starts an inner conversation that disrupts the subconscious state necessary for flow. Any inner conversation only makes things worse, clutters the mind with trivia and is a trigger for the cycle of failure.

UNCONTROLLED AROUSAL LEVEL. Arousal is our physiological and psychological state of being during the time we are awake. It involves the brainstem, autonomic nervous system, and endocrine system which, working together, control heart rate and blood pressure. Arousal also provides a condition of sensory alertness, mobility, and readiness to respond. It’s importance is in regulating consciousness, attention, and information processing. There is a direct relationship between an individual’s optimal arousal level and task performance.

In simple terms, one’s arousal level is felt as alertness; if it's too high or too low, free-throw performance is affected adversely. Maintaining the optimal arousal level is critical for peak performance. It is the same as keeping your "game face" on all the time.

The optimal arousal level is different for each individual and takes a while to find and feel. The perfect arousal level is when you are in the flow and making every shot. Perfect arousal is disrupted by lost attention, a wandering mind, or overreaction to misses or makes.

Not being aware of or maintaining your peak performance optimal arousal level contributes to the cycle of failure.

LACK OF SELF DISCIPLINE AND WILLPOWER. Self-discipline refers to the training one gives one’s self to accomplish a certain task, even though one would rather be doing something else. Thus self-discipline is the assertion of willpower over more base desires and is usually understood to be similar to "self control."

Willpower is the ability to exert one's will over one's actions with firmness, decisiveness, determination, resolution and persistence. - Wikipedia + footnote to source

These two inner characteristics, self-discipline and willpower, are essential for free throw improvement and ultimate mastery. They are the characteristics necessary for consistent daily practice. Without daily, planned, disciplined practice, improvement is nearly impossible and goals become unreachable.

BAD HABITS hurt us in every part of our lives; the most destructive bad habits are addictions to drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes. If you want to insure poor work habits or bad health, these bad habits will surely affect you adversely. There are many other bad habits: immortality, dishonesty, anger, untruthfulness, lack of steadiness and endurance, etc. These bad habits are obstacles to focus and concentration and interfere with reaching goals, happiness, and success in life. Bad personal habits are the worst of all the cycles of failure and mental mistakes.


A mantra is a religious or mystical syllable or poem primarily used as spiritual conduits, words or vibrations that instill one-pointed concentration in the devotee. Great emphasis is put on correct pronunciation. They are intended to deliver the mind from illusion and material or egotistical inclination. Chanting is the process of repeating a mantra. Wikipedia + footnote and link to source

In between and right before shooting free throws, you can use a mantra, a selected word, or a few selected words, rhythmically timed and paced to the free-throw ritual, free-throw process, your in- and out-breaths, and seven fundamental steps. This helps to keep the performance in the here and now by blocking out wandering and uninvited thoughts. A mantra can help in the coordination of the mind and body for a subconscious peak performance.

My mantra is, "Hear the sound of the net pop." I say it several times, timed precisely during my free-throw ritual and positive set visualizations. My best performances are when I have no uninvited thoughts throughout the entire series of practice shots or during a competitive set of shots. These best periods of controlled thinking (my mantra, my only thought), surrounded by complete silence, account for my best consecutive free throws-made-in-a-row runs, my high free-throw average, and free-throw mastery.


A jopa is a long series of words or ideas repeated as a mantra. I created a one-minute jopa that I use as a form of meditation. Repeating my jopa ensures no other thought or thoughts will enter my conscious mind for as long as I continue the repetitions. I repeat my jopa many times a day. I believe repeating it helps my focus and concentration and stills my mind.

My one-minute jopa, made up of 100 words, is titled, "The Best I Can Be" and it goes like this:

“The Best I Can Be”

Quiet, calm, silent, still, totally here all is so clear.

Relax, balance, center, with the universal mind no uninvited thought will intervene or appear.

“Focused-Concentration,” in deep meditation, contemplation, in the now, in the flow, in the zone, peak performance near.

Step into The Morpheus Transformation, dream-like, Zen mind, selflessness, self-hypnotic, subconscious, perfect mental state, the best you can be. Visualize and see.

In-breath—hold,—out-breath—hold,—smooth, nice and easy, make every shot, know you can, trust in God, the impossible is possible, hear the sound of the net "pop."

I've repeated my jopa thousands of times and know it by heart. It always relaxes me and clears my mind. I say it many times upon waking in the early morning, during the day and right before I go to sleep. It is one of the meditations I do daily.


Meditation is a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the reflexive thinking mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness. Meditation often involves turning attention to a single point of reference. It is recognized as a component of almost all religions and has been practiced for over 5,000 years.

Meditation is also practiced outside religious traditions. Different meditative disciplines encompass a wide range of spiritual and/or psychological practices that emphasize different goals; the highest level of mental and physical health, for achievement of a higher consciousness, and for greater focus and concentration in creativity or self awareness or simply a more relaxed and peaceful frame of mind.

Meditation leads to contemplation. Plato, the philosopher, felt that through contemplation the soul may attain knowledge of the form of good or other divine forms. The highest form of contemplation is to experience God.

For our purposes of free-throw mastery the practice of meditation can help us be more relaxed and increase our ability to focus and concentrate. It is highly recommended for gaining mental clarity and the power of positive thought.


Creative visualization is the technique of using one's imagination to visualize a positive picture. That picture can produce a positive field for success at the free-throw line. All of the best free-throw shooters use visualization in their free-throw process.

Studies on visualization in sports have proved the value of mental imaging. A scientist compared four groups of athletes in terms of training techniques. Group One trained 100% physically, Group Two trained 75% physically and 25% using positive visualizations, Group Three 50% physical and 50% visualization and Group Four trained 25% physically and 75% using visualization. Group Four performed the best in this study proving the value of positive mental practice and visualization over actual physical practice.

When you use positive visualizations such as seeing and hearing the basketball pop or swish the net, or see a 15-foot-long arm extend and drop the basketball into the center of the basket's sweet spot, you create positive images of what you wish—intend—to happen. These positive visualizations, when done over and over again, tend to attract what you are focusing on.

These positive visualizations also serve to keep you in the here and now just like a mantra. It is important that your visualizations and selected thoughts are perfectly timed to your free-throw ritual, process, and fundamentals exactly the same every time you shoot. This helps ensure consistency in rhythm, pace, and timing.

Setting Goals

Setting short- and long-term goals is essential for free-throw improvement and mastery. Goal-setting involves establishing specific, measurable, and time-targeted objectives. The most effective goals are tangible, specific, and realistic.

Write down your short, and long-term goals with a time frame for their achievement. Goals serve as an energizer to induce a greater and greater effort. Goals affect persistence and passion. A goal will also activate cognitive knowledge and help develop strategies for coping. Once a goal and time frame are written down, a written plan can be perceived and actions along those plans can be initiated. - wikipedia + footnote and link to source

An excellent short-term goal in free-throw shooting is to improve four percent every month. The way to improvement is to practice shooting 100 or more free throws regularly. In fact, to practice every day is best. In order to set up practice time, first you need to write down your entire week’s or month’s schedule and then list your priorities. Then you can determine the days and times you can practice shooting free throws. You can find the time schedule forms and the rest of the mastery practice plan in Chapter Five - Perfect Practice.

Goals provide a sense of direction and purpose. To repeat Dr. Tom Amberry’s advice from the foreword to this book, "What helps is setting your first goal just out of reach and within the realm of your own possibilities—a goal set high enough that the idea of achievement really excites you. Your excitement will give you an excellent chance of reaching that goal."


All basketball players have felt the devastating effects of performance anxiety. This difficult-to-control condition can keep you tossing and turning before a big game. During the game, you may feel choked up, have trouble breathing, and your arms can feel like they weigh a hundred pounds each. If you are working toward the goal of free-throw mastery, you now have the tools from this chapter on the mental plane to think properly, use a mantra, use positive visualization, control your attention, focus, and concentration, and effectively perform in a relaxed, quiet state in the here and now.

“The athlete who has conquered performance anxiety is the personification of the eye of a hurricane, a totally calm feeling in the center of a storm. The athlete understands that performance-disrupting stress comes from concentrating on uncontrollables and things that lead to the cycle of failure. The key to peak performance is focusing only on things that can be controlled.” - Dr. Jim Poteet, from his doctoral thesis, “The Paradox of Free Throw” (an important reference for this chapter on the mental plane) Free-throw mastery will ultimately be the end result.

Strive for excellence in all that you do. Be committed and follow through. Improvement at the free-throw line is possible for those that believe and are willing to set the perfect practice time required. An improvement of four percent per month is very reasonable and possible for those with strong self discipline and unshakable will power. Free-throw mastery is the end result and takes desire, devotion, patience, and a fair amount of time.

Success is a habit

As Dr. Tom said in the foreword of his book, Free Throw, 7 Steps To Success , "Success is a habit; unfortunately, so is failure."

It will pay to take a close look at yourself: your current habits and patterns that make up your life. You cannot change what you refuse to acknowledge. The payoff for getting brutally honest with yourself is the change that will align better habits and patterns with your goals and dreams.

High achievers have created and practiced success systems—habits and rituals that serve rather than detract from their goals.

Your destiny

Some words of wisdom as told during an interview with 83-year-old Helen Hadsell, author of The Winning Sage (

"Watch your thoughts, they turn into words."

"Watch your words, they become actions."

"Watch your actions, they become habits."

"Watch your habits, they become your character."

"Watch your character because that becomes your destiny."

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