No matter what the sport, or event the world’s greatest athletes have a performance routine. Some players have routines that start with pregame. Then adjust their routine for ultimate performance during competition. Then revert to a recovery routine after competition. No matter what the situation performance routines are a proven effective part of sports performance. The right routine (developed carefully) can put any athlete at the top of their game when they need it most… GAME TIME. As a part of our Confidence Conditioning program we help our players understand the impulses that force them to lose focus at game time. We then teach the players a routine that will help them remain focused on the task at hand instead of straying off course with anxiety. Watch NBA players take free throws. Watch MLB pitchers before they throw a pitch. Watch any PGA player before putting. Examples of performance routines are everywhere. Peak One Performance can help your player develop the same skills as the pros.
here is a piece from our ” Performance Routines for Basketball Free Throws” work book. Although this piece is based on the sport of Basketball, the principles explained are universal to any performance routine, for any sport.
Most good coaches will tell you to develop a physical routine for shooting each free throw. For us, this means, every time you go to the foul line you dribble the ball three times, place the ball in the same place in your hands (shot pocket), look at the back of the rim, take a deep breath, then take the free throw, and maintain the follow through until the shot is over. The purpose of developing a physical routine is to make each free throw more similar and familiar. This means that shooting a free throw in a gym all by yourself, would be performed exactly the same way as if you are shooting crucial free throws in a double overtime playoff game. Simulate the game situation and the practice becomes that much more effective. This encourages using the correct and successful techniques every time.
Here is an example of a mental routine that utilizes all three of the FUNdamental skills. As you are waiting to receive the basketball from the official and after you have positioned your feet properly at the free throw line, you could quickly imagine (eyes open or closed) the ball leaving your hand and entering the basket. This quick imagery is a confidence booster and will help you to focus on your upcoming throw. After using imagery, focus on the ring and be sure to think an assist word such as ring or hole repeatedly. Repeating your assist word will help you to get mentally focused. As you look to actually receive the ball from the official, you could think “ready” or “relax”. (Remember it is important to choose an assist word that is meaningful and will work for you.) This will help you to remain composed as you begin your routine.
After you get the ball, we recommend you count as you perform the dribbles before each free throw. In other words, if you dribble the ball three times before each free throw, then as you take the first dribble think one, as you take the second dribble think two, and as you take the third dribble think three. This counting again serves as a focusing technique. More importantly, counting to yourself will stop you from distracting yourself with negative thoughts (i.e., I hope I don’t choke this time). Then as you look at the rim and take a deep breath (a deep breath will help you to relax), think “ready” or “relax”. This will again keep you from getting too nervous or excited just before you shoot. Next, begin to focus on the back of the rim and think the word rim or ring. This will give you the concentration and focus that is necessary to perform the free throws successfully. Then, as you think rim or ring, shoot the free throw. Also, if at times you have difficulty maintaining your follow through, you could think “form” or “follow through” after you release the ball.
Notice that your mental routine keeps you focused on shooting each free throw. This stops you from distracting yourself by worrying about making or missing the shot. You are focused on the process of shooting, rather than its outcome. Many basketball players un-nerve themselves at the line because they are so focused on making or choking on the free throw line. Obviously it is important that you devote much practice time to becoming a good free throw shooter. As you perform your physical routine, use your own mental routine with it. It is important that while practicing free throws that you practice both your physical, and mental routines so both routines will become a habit or second-nature to you. Soon you will be able to perform the entire free throw routine automatically, without having to make yourself think about each part of the routines. This will help you to develop an overall consistent free throw shooting routine that will help you to be a good, consistent and, clutch free throw shooter.