You may be surprised to know that once again it is the ‘mind’ that dictates the changing of any bad habits. First of all the habit must be recognized as one that causes a problem, causes pain, inefficiency, inconsistency or it may be a habit that is unappealing etc. In all the basketball shooting clinics that I orchestrate, I always ask the question “what do you think about at the moment you release the ball from the hand”? 99.9% of the time I get this answer. Either “Hope the ball goes in” or something along those lines and this is completely and utterly an incorrect thought pattern.

Most of the time the pain that comes with the old habit becomes gain with the new habit. Obviously when consciously working on breaking an old habit there will be mental and physical pain. That’s why many of us would rather accept the old habit. It takes courage to break a habit, discipline to end the unwanted habit and it takes desire and motivation to fuel the process.

The following poem illustrates our friend “habit”.

I am your constant companion
I am your greatest asset or heaviest burden
I will push you up to success or down to disappointment
I am at your command
Half the things you do may as well be turned over to me
For I can do them quickly, correctly and profitably.
I am easily managed, just be firm with me.
Those who are great, I have made them great.
Those who are failures I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with the precision of a
Machine and the intelligence of a person.
You can run me for profit, or you can run me for ruin.
Show me how you want it done. Educate me. Train me.
Lead me. Reward me.
And I will then… do it automatically.
I am your servant.
Who am I?
I am a habit.

The reason I get these incorrect answers is because the players don’t recognize incorrect shooting mechanics which are a direct result of errant shots. Once you understand this concept you will become more ‘mindful’ of anatomical inconsistencies and you will be able to unravel destructive behaviors. This applies not only to free throw shooting but to biting finger nails, judging people, overeating, cursing etc. As I said earlier we need to become mindful by first recognizing all of our flawed shooting mechanics and I would always work on correcting my biggest problem first. In other words if your pinky finger drops one half inch on the release is not as big a problem as your shooting wrist moving sideways or laterally on or during the ball release, or a swaying sloppy elbow.