Dec 23, 2010
Free Throw Accuracy On Decline In Indiana High Schools

Roncalli High School boys basketball coach Michael Wantz knows exactly what will happen as soon as the instructors at his summer youth camps get the practice balls out for the participants.

“”If you don’t control them, the first thing they do is grab a basketball and go right to that 3-point line, ” Wantz said. “You almost wish you could erase (the line) for the summer.”

The number of state players who shoot at least 80 percent from the free throw line has dropped steadily in the high school boys game since the introduction of the 3-point shot for the 1987-88 season, according to information in the annual Indiana High School Basketball Record Books. The following season (1988-89), 196 players shot 80 percent or better. The number dropped to 104 in ’98-99 and 93 last season. (The information is not tracked for girls.)

Whether that’s a coincidence is unclear. Even Wantz, who is concerned about young shooters picking up bad habits, can’t quite figure it out. Survey a handful of coaches and each is likely to provide a different explanation.

“Free throws happen to be one of the things that kids don’t practice much on their own anymore, veteran Franklin Central coach Mark James said. That’s the bottom line.”

James noted that when he was growing up in Martinsville, he would spend hours working on his shooting on his backyard basket. Free throws were a part of that routine. Now, players seldom work on their own, especially those involved with offseason club programs.

“I think that affected things more than anything, ” said James, though he noted his team was shooting nearly 80 percent from the line this season. “Kids don’t go out on their own and shoot in the backyard. If it’s not a game and their parents aren’t taking them to it and no one is keeping score, they’re not going to do it.”

Guerin Catholic coach Pete Smith said he tried to have players shoot free throws until they made 50 in practice when he first started coaching in the 1980s. Now, work on fundamentals such as ball handling, passing and blocking out on rebounds has overtaken it.”Quite frankly, I think we spend more time on (the other fundamentals) now than we used to because they don’t do it in the summer, ” said Smith, who previously was the coach at Carmel and is in his 20th year as a head coach. “They play so many (Amateur Athletic Union) games, they’re not quite as fundamentally sound as you would like for them to be.”

Franklin coach Dave Clark said the 3-point shot sometimes encourages young players to shoot far beyond their range, leading to bad shooting habits.

“If the 3-point line has anything to do with it, I think young kids go out beyond the arc before they’re ready to do so, ” said Clark, in his 26th year as a coach and 18th at Franklin. “The general mechanics of the shot just really aren’t there yet.”

Eastern Hancock’s Dustin Smith — who leads the state with 68 free throws made and is shooting 89.5 percent, according to statistics on varvee.com — credits his parents for not allowing him to shoot 3-pointers when he started playing basketball and encouraging him to work on his free throws.

In addition to the 25 he takes at each practice, Smith works on them on his own a couple of times a week during the high school season and more often during the travel season.

“I have much better form because I wasn’t giving everything I had just to shoot a 3 (as a little kid), he said. I’m surprised (other players don’t work on them) because everybody says free throws will win or lose a game. I’ve worked on my form and kept shooting them.” Free Throw Accuracy On Decline In Indiana High Schools

IndyStar.com

Roncalli High School boys basketball coach Michael Wantz knows exactly what will happen as soon as the instructors at his summer youth camps get the practice balls out for the participants.

“If you don’t control them, the first thing they do is grab a basketball and go right to that 3-point line, ” Wantz said. “You almost wish you could erase (the line) for the summer.”

The number of state players who shoot at least 80 percent from the free throw line has dropped steadily in the high school boys game since the introduction of the 3-point shot for the 1987-88 season, according to information in the annual Indiana High School Basketball Record Books. The following season (1988-89), 196 players shot 80 percent or better. The number dropped to 104 in ’98-99 and 93 last season. (The information is not tracked for girls.)

Whether that’s a coincidence is unclear. Even Wantz, who is concerned about young shooters picking up bad habits, can’t quite figure it out. Survey a handful of coaches and each is likely to provide a different explanation.

“Free throws happen to be one of the things that kids don’t practice much on their own anymore, veteran Franklin Central coach Mark James said. That’s the bottom line.”

James noted that when he was growing up in Martinsville, he would spend hours working on his shooting on his backyard basket. Free throws were a part of that routine. Now, players seldom work on their own, especially those involved with offseason club programs.

“I think that affected things more than anything, ” said James, though he noted his team was shooting nearly 80 percent from the line this season. “Kids don’t go out on their own and shoot in the backyard. If it’s not a game and their parents aren’t taking them to it and no one is keeping score, they’re not going to do it.”

Guerin Catholic coach Pete Smith said he tried to have players shoot free throws until they made 50 in practice when he first started coaching in the 1980s. Now, work on fundamentals such as ball handling, passing and blocking out on rebounds has overtaken it.

“Quite frankly, I think we spend more time on (the other fundamentals) now than we used to because they don’t do it in the summer, ” said Smith, who previously was the coach at Carmel and is in his 20th year as a head coach. “They play so many (Amateur Athletic Union) games, they’re not quite as fundamentally sound as you would like for them to be.”

Franklin coach Dave Clark said the 3-point shot sometimes encourages young players to shoot far beyond their range, leading to bad shooting habits.

“If the 3-point line has anything to do with it, I think young kids go out beyond the arc before they’re ready to do so, ” said Clark, in his 26th year as a coach and 18th at Franklin. “The general mechanics of the shot just really aren’t there yet.”

Eastern Hancock’s Dustin Smith — who leads the state with 68 free throws made and is shooting 89.5 percent, according to statistics on varvee.com — credits his parents for not allowing him to shoot 3-pointers when he started playing basketball and encouraging him to work on his free throws.

In addition to the 25 he takes at each practice, Smith works on them on his own a couple of times a week during the high school season and more often during the travel season.

“I have much better form because I wasn’t giving everything I had just to shoot a 3 (as a little kid), he said. I’m surprised (other players don’t work on them) because everybody says free throws will win or lose a game. I’ve worked on my form and kept shooting them.”






75 Applewood Dr. Ste. A
P.O. Box 128
Sparta, MI 49345
616.887.9008
Interested in the print edition of Coach & Athletic Director?

Subscribe Today »

website development by deyo designs