Free-Throw Routines of WNBA Stars

Whether completely normal or a little wacky, it's important to have a consistent routine when you step to the free-throw line.

Most players will bounce the ball a certain number of times. Some exhale at the exact same time before every shot. Some will spin the ball in their palm or bend their knees three times or any number of other superstitions.

Here is what several WNBA stars do when they step to the line, as well as advice they have to make sure you can step to the line and nail the free throws your team needs you to hit.

Diana Taurasi

Taurasi was a basketball superstar long before playing in the WNBA. She enjoyed a standout career at college basketball powerhouse Connecticut, winning three national championships, before being selected No. 1 overall in the 2004 WNBA Draft.

In the WNBA, she's been an MVP and scoring champion for the Phoenix Mercury. She averaged 20.8 points per game through her first eight seasons, and hit a solid 85 percent of her free throws in that spin.

Taurasi uses a sometimes-overlooked guide built in to the court-- a nail in the middle of the free-throw stripe. Check your local wood court. It's got one. They all do.

She lines up at the line, and puts her right big toe right up against that nail. That way, she knows she's lined up to the basket.

After that?

"Just bend and extend," she says.

Cappie Pondexter

The New York Liberty superstar has averaged 19.3 points per game in a sensational six-year WNBA career. She's been in the league's top 10 in points per game every year of her career.

Her consistently brilliant scoring output includes a career average of 85 percent from the free-throw line. In 2010, she hit 157 of 176 free-throw attempts--an 89.2-percent clip.

Pondexter's success at the line is a big reason she's one of the WNBA's top scorers. But the secret to her success isn't much of a secret at all.

"I don't think about anything, except that they're free!" Pondexter says. "When it's a game-deciding free throw, it becomes nerve-racking. But I think to myself, 'I do this every day, I practice this every day. Now let me just focus in and do what I practice.'"

It must work--her free-throw percentage is even better (88 percent) in the postseason.

Angel McCoughtry

As one of the rising stars of the WNBA, McCoughtry averaged better than 20 points per game for the Atlanta Dream in 2010 and 2011, and makes 78 percent of the free throws she takes.

McCoughtry also has a simple routine.

"Nothing special," she says. "I just dribble four times, spin the ball in my hand, line it up and shoot."

McCoughtry, though, does have a specific target in mind every time.

"I aim," she says, "for the back of the rim."

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