- Associated Press - Sunday, February 12, 2017

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) - Some might say shooting free throws is all in the wrist, but third-grade student Judson Bailey believes all you have to do is “relax” and “release the ball.”

Bailey should know as one of the best young free throw shooters in the state of Alabama. The 9-year-old Bailey recently won a local Elk’s Lodge Hoop Contest, knocking down 16 of 25 free throws, the Dothan Eagle (https://bit.ly/2loTwOe) reported.

Bailey attends Highland Elementary School and will soon participate in a state contest in Birmingham. His simple formula for hitting the perfect hoop shot is to just relax and let the ball roll off your fingers.

“You don’t aim, you just release the ball,” he said.

If Bailey wins the state contest, he’ll advance to regional event in Valdosta, Georgia. He says he spent several hours each day practicing weeks before the competition at his church and home.

Bailey uses indoor-safe balls while he shoots hoops on a small basketball goal on the door of his room. He credits his free throw success to his father, who taught him the technique of shooting.

Bailey also gives props to his mother, a teacher at Highlands.

“Mom just drives,” said his mother, Melissa Bailey.

The boy’s mother said she is excited about his accomplishment. She thinks he can make it to the next level of the contest.

“He’s always been an athlete; we’ve known that since he was little,” Melissa Bailey said. “He was born with a ball in his hand.”

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