Free Throw Fundamentals

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This article discusses the act of shooting free throws and the skills, strategy, and technique involved. For the official rules regarding when and how a free throw is awarded and taken,' Click Here'.


Free throws are a key component of the game that occur generally when one team commits a foul. Free throws can occur when fouled in the act of shooting, when one team is in the bonus, or when a technical foul has been issued. Practicing free throws in a game type simulation and purposeful repetition can help improve conversion rates.

Why not jump on a free throw?

Players at youth levels most often have to get a bit of a running start to reach the rim from the free throw line if they lack the strength to get it there on their own. This can often lead to habitual jumping which in some of the more stubborn players may be hard to adjust as they grow older and increase in strength.
The reason why jumping (like in your jump shot) is not preferable on a free throw is due to jumping and leaving the ground creates an extra point of balance and movement that can be eliminated by staying stationary. Stepping in and taking a jump shot is for quick release, elevation to avoid the contest, and to have consistency with the outside shot which requires a bit more explosiveness. The foul shot needs none of these things so eliminating the jump as a factor makes the most sense.


Free throw stance is an entirely personal thing and different techniques can be successful. Most coaches recommend keeping feet about shoulder width apart and keeping the toes pointed at the basket. This keeps the body squared up to the hoop and avoids having to bring the shot to the side of your body to keep it straight.