The fact is, I start my day most days by shooting 50 freethrows -- sometimes 100 or more. I get up, have a cup of coffee and maybe some organic Weetabix, grab my basketball, and head down to the end of my block to the park, where the basketball courts live. I usually shoot a few warm-ups first, and then begin the official freethrows, the ones that will count on my permanent record. Most recently, I was out there on , and shot out of ( percent). I also hit in a row (My all-time best streak now stands at in a row.)
Hardly anyone else is there at that time of day (usually around 8:00 in the morning). Couple of elderly Chinese women walking backwards around the park. A guy who tests home-made flying machines. The park clean-up ladies and the drunks who pester them. It's actually good to have a few distractions around, to overcome them. Also, most of the times when I miss a shot, I can pin the blame squarely on somebody walking backwards in front of me just as I'm about to release.
I find it endlessly fascinating, shooting freethrows. It's the same shot each time, and always slightly different. It seems like something you ought to be able to perfect, and yet you're never perfect. Sooner or later, you'll miss one. Which is odd, I think, because when you've just gotten one in, and it went in really nicely, without a lot of rattling around the rim, you get a real feel for the shot, and then you put another one in just like it, and another and another, and it doesn't take too many of those before you feel like there's no reason you should ever miss again. There's no reason it shouldn't be 50 out of 50 from now on, for the rest of your life, because you've got it down, you've got the form, the mechanics, you've figured out exactly where to hold the ball in relation to your body before letting it go, how to keep your elbow in line, how to make sure the ball rolls off the same middle fingertips each time, how much bend to have in your knees, and more than that you've got the feel, the feel for the arc, the feel for how much push, how much arm and how much legs, and how to breathe. Why miss?
But a funny thing happens, sooner or later. Your mind may wander, for example, and your concentration, despite your best intentions, wanes. Even worse, once you get 7 or 8 in a row, nevermind 18 or 19 or more in a row, you start to become aware of the streak and it starts to weigh upon you. You start to concentrate too much, try too hard. You get a bit too careful, a bit too stiff. Each shot becomes less natural than the last. Each hit is like another cinderblock on your palette. Sometimes you suddenly feel like a mechanical monster out there, all jerkiness and metal thumbs. You know it's happening and you try to relax and you try to be less conscious, and you may even succeed. But eventually, always, you'll miss. It's crazy. It should never happen. That's why you can always go back and try again, try to do better. That's why it can get obsessive.
Anyway. I enter all my freethrow stats into a special Obsessive Boy Database, which keeps track of everything and gives me the cold hard facts upon request. Check the data tab for the full summary. My main goal in life is to shoot freethrows at a 90 percent level or better consistently. Once I've achieved that, I'll be able to worry about things like writing novels, building retirement portfolios, and creatively contributing to the development of a love-based system of sustainable global harmony to replace the current corporate grabfest. So you see, I really need to keep on top of my numbers.
Anyway, you may not be able to relate to this fixation of mine until you've tried it yourself. That's why I created the Flash-based freethrow game. Go on and give it a try, if you haven't already. But be careful. You might not be able to stop.