What Is A Free Throw In Basketball? (Rule & Tips)

The free throw is one of the easiest yet most challenging aspects of basketball.

A lot of NBA legends absolutely hate them like Shaquille Oneal. But shooters find it easy to shoot them.

But what exactly is a free throw?

A free throw is a shooting attempt by a player that’s unguarded. It’s the reward for a foul or other infringement of the game. A player can shoot one up to three free throws depending on the foul.

What is a Free Throw in Basketball?

A free throw is like a free kick in soccer. It’s when a player shoots the ball at the free throw line without anyone guarding the shooter.

It’s the reward of a player after getting fouled. If they still got the basket after getting fouled, then they have an opportunity for a three-point or a four-point play.

Related: What Does ‘And One’ Mean in Basketball? Full Guide

When does a player get rewarded with a free throw?

Generally, a player gets awarded a free throw when he’s fouled in the act of shooting. He can then be fouled while shooting a mid-range, 3-pointer, layup, dunk or any other type of shot.

If the shot made it in while he was fouled, it will result in either a two-point play or a three-point play.

There are four foul types that generate free throws:

  • Personal
  • Technical
  • Team
  • Flagrant

Free throws are also awarded for fouls that are committed by teams that have no fouls to give.

Basketball Free Throw Rules

Shooting a free throw is as simple as it gets. But there are still rules surrounding it.

  • The shooter must stand behind the free throw line with both feet.
  • The shooter must wait for the referee to call “shot” or “let go” before attempting to shoot the ball.
  • The shooter must have his shot attempt within 10 seconds.
  • If the player gets fouled and is within the last two minutes of the game, he will shoot two free throws.
  • The opposing team isn’t allowed to guard the person shooting the free throw.

Benefits of Perfecting Free Throws

There are many benefits of perfecting free throws. Free throws are important to build a lead, as they have a higher percentage of going in the basket than a field goal.

If you have a strong free throw percentage, you won’t have to press as much on defense during the last minutes of the game.

You can use the strategy of the hack-a-Shaq and make the team miss the free throws. You can also extend a lead with a few made free throws and get the game over with. You will also have a higher chance of winning the game from the start.

There are many NBA players who have a bad three-point shot but have an excellent free throw percentage. If you are one of those players, you shouldn’t try to improve your three-point shot as much. Your free throw percentage will make up for it.

How to Make a Perfect Free Throw Shot?

Here are the most effective tips to perfect a free throw:

1. Perfect your form

The first step to achieving a higher free throw percentage is to go down the basics. If you have the shooting form nailed down, then you don’t need anything else.

The perfect shooting form differs from player to player but there are guidelines. The most important aspect is to have your dominant hand under the ball and the other hand serving as a guide.

2. Shoot free throws every practice

A lot of players love to practice their layups, dunks and three-point shots. But a lot of players fail to practice free throws.

Free throws are a part of every game so you must practice them as much as the other aspects of your game.

Try to shoot at least 50-100 free throws every practice session if you want to improve.

3. Have a routine

A lot of NBA players have routines during free throws. Steve Nash who’s one of the best free throw shooters ever has a routine of doing the shooting motion without the ball.

Your routine doesn’t have to be complicated, the goal is to just get into your rhythm. You don’t want to just shoot it immediately.

4. One fluid motion

You want your free throw to be one fluid motion. It all starts from your feet all the way to the release of the ball above your head.

Best Free Throw Shooters in the NBA

When we want to see who are the best free throw shooters in the NBA, we want to measure them through their free throw percentage.

Here’s the list of the top 10 best free throw shooters in the NBA’s history:

PlayerFree Throw Percentage
1. Stephen Curry90.69%
2. Steve Nash90.43%
3. Mark Price90.39%
4. Peja Stojaković89.48%
5. Chauncey Billups89.40%
6. Ray Allen89.39%
7. Damian Lillard89.33%
8. Rick Barry89.31%
9. J.J. Redick89.18%
10. Calvin Murphy89.16%

Why isn’t there an NBA player who has a perfect free throw percentage?

It would be almost impossible to get a perfect free throw percentage for your whole career.

Even the greatest shooter ever Stephen Curry misses free throws on ultra rare occassions.

That’s because even though free throw shots are easy, when you account the pressure that players feel in-game, you’ll understand why they can’t perfect it.

Final Words

Free throws are taken by granted by a lot of players. They may not be as exciting as dunks or three point shots but they count toward the score all the same.

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