Some of you know that I have been talking about writing a basketball blog for a long time.  I love to watch the game and this is a great outlet for me to talk about the game.  All around, I think basketball is a great team sport and when all the parts- players, coaches, refs, and audience- are working together there is nothing better.  Those 40 minutes can fly by or the last few seconds can be agonizingly long, but it is all part of the game.

The free throw in basketball is one of the features of the game that I love.  Making a few key shots can pull you out of reach for a last minute three pointer by the other team’s star shooter or missing some shots from the line can make a game that should be in the bag interesting in the last few minutes.  One thing I believe is universal is that all players, especially at the college level, should make most of their free throws most of the time.  Free throws are a skill and as such can be practiced and improved.

This week I was excited to read an article out of NCSU called, Nothing but net?, where scientist Larry Silverberg finally did a proper analysis of the free throw.  His work is a study in improving free throw shots and the more I read the more exited I got.  Essentially, a player needs to aim for a particular place (that is not always the intuitive spot on the basket), they need to practice this skill, and his work is a training tool for players and coaches.  Validation!  Someone else thinks even more about foul shots than me and has found a way to improve, in his estimation, all players foul shots up to “twenty percentage points.”  If you are a 68% (insert head shake here) shooter you could be hitting 88%, if you are a 75% free throw shooter you could be at 95%!  This is a game and I don’t expect perfection, but close to it in your free throws comes with practice.  That practice pays off on the court when each of those shots from the line goes in with a satisfying swish!

On a side note, the London 2012 Olympics start tonight and I am ready to cheer for Team USA on the basketball court as well as the track, the pool, the gym, and all the other places our Olympians will be competing.  While I don’t usually pay much attention to players once they turn pro, I am pumped to watch, and comment on, our women’s and men’s basketball teams as they fight their way to gold.  Coach K and Geno both have strong teams made of strong players and I expect nothing but the best!