Basketball is a sport that demands both physical and mental strength, and perhaps no aspect of the game requires both of these attributes more than free throw shooting. At the highest levels of competition, free throws can be the difference between winning and losing, and few players in history have been better at sinking them than Ted St. Martin.
Throughout the 11-year span between 1991 and 2002, St. Martin achieved what remains the most consecutive free throws made in basketball history, sinking an incredible 5,221 shots in a row. While his achievement is unparalleled, the factors that led to this impressive feat are still relevant for aspiring athletes to consider, from mental focus to technical precision.
For starters, it’s worth noting that St. Martin’s achievement required an immense amount of mental focus. Shooting free throws is far from easy, even under ideal circumstances. Players need to stay calm, focused, and confident, all while dealing with intense pressure from the opposing team and the crowd. To make matters even more challenging, St. Martin was often shooting alone, without the distraction of a true game-time environment.
This meant that he needed to be even more dialed in to the task at hand, blocking out all of the noise and potential distractions. One of the ways St. Martin honed his mental focus was by establishing a daily routine. He would wake up early each morning, head out to the basketball court, and start shooting free throws. This routine allowed him to develop a sense of rhythm and consistency, which helped him stay focused even during longer and more difficult shooting sessions.
But mental focus alone wouldn’t have been enough to set the free-throw record. St. Martin also needed to have perfect technique when shooting. Every aspect of his form had to be precise, from the positioning of his feet to the angle of his elbows. He also had to develop a consistent routine for his shot, keeping the motion the same every time and making subtle adjustments as he went along.
To achieve this level of technical precision, St. Martin relied on feedback from coaches and teammates. He would often record his shooting sessions and analyze the footage to identify areas where he could improve. This attention to detail helped him refine his technique and eliminate any potential weaknesses.
In the end, it was the combination of mental focus and technical precision that made St. Martin’s free-throw shooting so successful. He was able to maintain concentration even under extreme duress, while also honing his shooting form to near-perfection. These lessons are still relevant for basketball players today, whether they’re trying to set records of their own or simply improve their game. By practicing mental focus and technical precision, anyone can shoot with greater accuracy and confidence.