I’ve made it clear on this blog and on twitter that I’m a big believer in fouling on purpose when you are up 3 late in the game. Statistically, it gives you the best chance to win the game in regulation.

I’m also a believer in violating the lane (assuming you have the possession arrow) when you foul up 3 and your opponent might intentionally miss. If they call the violation and the free throw is missed, they have to shoot again. They can’t get the rebound. If they make the free throw, the violation is waved off and you just take the ball out of bounds with a 1-point lead.

(If you don’t have the arrow, and your opponent commits a violation as well like missing the rim with the free throw, it goes to the possession arrow – and they could get a possession out of bounds).

The genesis behind violating on purpose goes back to my days as an assistant coach at Providence. When we would do rebounding drills, I was always the “shoot to miss” coach, and I learned something. Trying to miss a shot on purpose, while creating a “normal” rebound, is not easy. A lot of times the ball goes in, sometimes you throw up an airball. Most assistants know the terrible feeling of making 3 in a row during a rebounding drill with the head coach getting more and more steamed.

So from that comes the idea to violate the lane on purpose. But on the other side you also have to think about how to miss a free throw on purpose. Like anything else, if you want your team to do it during a game, you better practice it.

You see kids lining up to the left or the right, throwing the bullet free throw off the backboard, or shooting it up really high to try and get a different kind of bounce. And a lot of the time it either goes in, or they don’t hit the rim and it’s a violation.

I’m not sure how to practice the best way to miss a free throw, as far as where you want it to hit the rim or how you want it to come off. I just don’t think you can be that precise. It’s hard to do.

One thing that you can do, however, is try and get your guys into the lane quickly. We had a miss that we called “quick” which we used to practice in our time and score package. As soon as the shooter got the ball his job was to throw a chest pass at the front of the rim. I’m talking right away, as soon as the ball touched his hands.

When we called “quick,” our two rebounders who were in the lane knew what was coming, and as soon as the shooter releases the ball they are allowed to step into the lane. You will usually catch the defense off guard, as they aren’t expecting it to happen that fast, so your guys can get into the lane first and get inside position. When they know it’s coming, “quick” allows your players to get in the lane first. To me, that’s the best advantage you can create on a missed free throw.

The key to practicing “quick” is that the shooter does not have to throw a bullet at the rim that might not even hit the rim, or if it does could bounce anywhere. It’s a regular chest pass at the front of the rim. It’s not a laser. If executed correctly, your players have inside position and should have a better chance to get the rebound.

Does it ever work? We have won a game before using “quick.” We were playing Keene State in our league semi-final one year at RIC, and we were down 3 with 3.2 seconds to go. We executed quick to perfection. My center got in front of his man, the ball hit the front of the rim and fell right into his stomach, and he actually dribbled it quickly out to the 3-point line and buried a 3 to send the game to double overtime. We won the game in double OT.

Anything you want your team to execute in a game, you want to practice. It may sound like overkill, but you can never prepare your team enough for time and score. If you are going to miss a free throw, think about the best way to do it. “Quick” is a great way to give your team an advantage.

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