Exploring visually and hearing precluded free throw trials among elite basketball players: A practical training method?


A free throw often appears as one of the most basic elements in the game of basketball, however the sudden change of pace can present unique challenges at even the highest levels of play. The majority of basketball is comprised of open skills (reactionary), while the free throw is classified as a closed skill (initiated by shooter) (Williams et al., 2010, p. 336). The primary purpose of the current study was to explore the effects of a free throw training method that consisted of free throw trials without the use of vision or hearing among higher skilled and lower skilled free throw shooters, as defined by free throw percentage. This procedure had the aim of impacting and possibly shifting focus of attention by significantly reducing external factors. All participants came from varsity university and college level basketball programs and therefore were considered elite level players. Vision was removed during the shooting motion using occlusion goggles, however was restored while the ball was in midflight to provide knowledge of results. All auditory factors were significantly reduced using hearing protection earmuffs. Focus of attention and imagery were explored using an exit survey completed at the end of the study.