How To Shoot a Free Throw



Shooting a free throw is one of the easier skills to master in basketball. With some time and dedication, you should have the free throw mastered in no time.

Part 1: Positioning Your Body

  1. Stand behind the free throw line.
  • When you set up for your free throw, step up to the line without going over it. It’s fine if your toes are at the edge of the line when you set up your shot.
  1. Place your shooting foot in line with the center of the rim.
  • Look at the middle of the rim and do your best to align your foot with it. Keep your toes pointed toward the basket to help keep your shot straight.
  1. Angle your body so your dominant side is closer to the hoop.
  • Keep your shooting foot and your dominant side closer to the line. Stagger your feet so your hips and shoulders are slightly angled to the basket. The angle of your body depends on what feels comfortable, so try out different angles to see what works best for you.
  1. Bend your knees and shift your weight to your toes.
  • Squat down slightly so your legs make about a 45-degree angle. Make sure the knee on your dominant side lines up with the center of the basket. Rather than keeping your weight in your heels, lean forward slightly so you’re balancing on your toes.


Part 2: Holding the Ball

  1. Line up your shooting arm and shoulder with the middle of the hoop.
  • Extend your arm out in front of you and turn your upper body if your hand and elbow don’t line up with the basket. Once you’re in position, avoid turning or readjusting your stance.
  1. Dribble or spin the ball a few times to develop a shooting routine.
  • Most basketball players use a consistent routine when setting up a free throw so they get in a familiar mindset every time they shoot. You may dribble the ball 2–3 times or spin it in your hands. Whatever routine you choose, keep it the same every time you make a free throw to help you feel more in the zone and eliminate distractions.
  1. Hold onto the ball with your dominant hand.
  • Position the basketball so the seams are horizontal. Spread out your fingers on your dominant hand and grab onto the ball. Point your fingers in the direction of the hoop, or else you’ll shoot the ball at an angle.
  1. Bend your shooting arm and wrist back to make a C-shape.
  • Extend your dominant shooting arm in front of you so your palm is face-down. Bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle so your hand points up. Then, tilt your wrist backward so it’s near parallel with your upper arm. The ball should be about the same height as your head.
  1. Steady the side of the basketball with your non-dominant hand.
  • Position your non-dominant hand so your fingers point straight up. Place your hand on the side of the basketball so you’re barely touching it. As you shoot, you won’t use your non-dominant hand to push the ball forward, but it will help keep your shot straight.


Part 3: Taking the Shot

  1. Focus on the basket rather than the ball.
  • Look at the center of the rim and don’t look away once you find it. Visualize the ball going into the basket so you’re more confident as you shoot your free throw. Avoid looking at the ball, other players, or the crowd when you’re making your shot.
  1. Breathe slowly to help you focus.
  •  It’s okay to feel nervous or under pressure when you make a free throw. Once you’re in the ready free throw position, take a deep breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Keep your focus on the rim and where you want the ball to go.
  1. Straighten your shooting arm and legs to shoot the ball.
  • In one fluid motion, push down with your toes and straighten your knees until they’re fully extended. At the same time, lift your elbow to straighten your shooting arm. Your arm should be extended by the time your legs are straight.
  1. Snap your wrist to follow through with your shot.
  • Right as you fully extend your arm, quickly bend your wrist forward to help propel the ball toward the basket. Hold your follow-through position while the ball is in the air and wait for it to land before relaxing again.