Nothing in basketball plays more tricks with the mind than free throws ... and perhaps no-one approaches free throws like Kiwi NBA centre Steven Adams.

The very essence of free throws is that they are free - that they should be the easiest scoring shot in the game - but even the world's greatest athletes often struggle to take advantage of that opportunity.

Adams is one of those, converting only 57.1% across his four seasons in the NBA. His 61.1% last season was a career high, but still far inferior to the league-leading 91.2% of Portland's CJ McCollum.

Most players will shoot dozens of free throws in practice, trying to perfect their routine ... like a putting stroke in golf. Others will try to replicate game fatigue by running between shots.

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Some will practice blindfolded, others will even experiment with a double-handed underarm technique to find the ritual that best suits them.

But the Oklahoma City Thunder centre is one of the most physical players in the competition - if he's standing on the charity stripe, chances are he's just been clobbered by an opponent.

So, when he practices his free-throws, he literally has Thunder trainer Darko Rajakovic punch him in the stomach when he least expects it, just as he's lining up his shot.

Only time will tell if his technique is any more effective as a result of his bizarre practice habits.