How To Shoot Free Throws

Shooting free throws can be the easiest way to score points and lead your team to victory, or it can be stressful and embarrassing.  Poor free throw shooting can even cost your team the game!  The most important factor in free throw shooting is consistency.  To obtain consistency, a player must rigorously practice his form.  By doing so, the free throw shooter will gain confidence and will see an increase in the number of free throws he can make.  The free throw form should mirror the form used for shooting jump shots.

  1. Position your feet shoulder-width apart.  The dominant foot should be positioned right behind the free throw line, while the other foot is positioned a couple of inches behind the free throw line.  The dominant foot matches your handedness.  If you are right-handed, then your right foot will be dominant at the free throw line.

  • Your legs should be slightly bent at the knee.
  • Your dominant hand should be used to cradle the ball from underneath, with the other hand positioned on the side of the basketball for guidance and stability.
  • The ball should be positioned at about chest height, beneath the chin.
  • Your dominant arm should form a C shape, with the ball perched atop the hand.
  • The release motion should be smooth, as jerkiness will lead to inconsistent delivery from shot to shot.  Your goal is to have the same fluid movement every time you shoot a free throw.  Variation is definitely counterproductive.
  • The release should flow from underneath the chin upwards and outwards.
  • The wrist of your hand supporting the basketball should be snapped forward, applying backspin to the basketball as it is released.  This should look as if the shooter is reaching above and in front of her head to steal cookies out of a cookie jar.
  • The shooter should find a routine that is comfortable for her and practice that routine so that it becomes second-nature.  Only then can she obtain consistent success from the free-throw line.
  • Bear in mind that this article describes classic free throw form.  If your form is different, yet you can consistently reproduce it without difficulty and yield success each time, remember the old saying: if it ain't broke, don't fix it! 
  • Good luck and remember to practice!
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