The Art of the Free Throw | Ben Gordon
Ben Gordon takes aim at the line while sporting the Chicago Stags retro jersey.
The Shot: Video of Gordon at the line
The Free Throw:
As soon as the whistle blows, Ben Gordon heads to the free throw line and prepares to put some easy points on the board. Among the NBA’s most accurate from the line as a rookie, Gordon’s free throw shooting routine is one of repetition, consistency and perhaps most importantly, hard work.
“The first thing I do when I get to the line is to take a couple of deep breaths and try and get some rest,” Gordon said. “That helps me concentrate on my free throws.”
Gordon then places the ball in his left hand and mimics his shot before taking the real one, the most distinctive element of his routine. He notes that a good follow-through is key to the success of his shot. Finally, he bounces the ball four times, bends his knees and releases the ball.
“The whole purpose of your routine is so that you can become the most consistent free throw shooter than you can be,” Gordon explained. “If you focus on the same exact thing that you do every day, it keeps bringing you back to that spot where you’ve got that comfort level. It allows you to concentrate and block everything else out.”
While some players have been shooting free throws the same way dating back to their high school years, Gordon’s ritual is a relatively new one. Chicago’s 6-foot-3 second year guard out of the University of Connecticut says that he didn’t develop his current routine until prior to his sophomore year.
His efforts, under the watchful eye of Huskies coach Jim Calhoun, paid off as Gordon’s success at the line significantly improved throughout his collegiate career. As a freshman, Gordon connected on nearly 73 percent of his free throws, but as a sophomore that jumped to 81 percent. As a junior, the season in which Gordon helped lead his school to the NCAA Championship, he shot 83 percent from the charity stripe.
His success at the line has carried over to his professional career. As a rookie, Gordon made good on better than 86 percent from the line, 16th best in the NBA.
“I work on them a lot during the summertime,” Gordon said. “During the season, I’ll shoot anywhere from 50 to 100 on a daily basis to work on keeping my touch. The more you work, the more comfortable you are when you get to the line in a game. Basically, it’s all repetition.”
By Adam Fluck