Basketball Shooting Technique
How to Shoot a Basketball Free Throw

Correct basketball shooting technique separates the best shooters from all the rest. And there's no better showcase than the free throw line.

It's been 20+ years, but I remember the routine like it was yesterday...

The basketball shooting technique I used for shooting free throws was so automatic that even after all these years, I can still step up to the line and perform it exactly the same way I did during my last college basketball game.

Learn more about coaching other types of shots: 

Free throws are such an important part of the game. They...

  • provide a lot lot of a team's points
  • can cause huge momentum swings
  • can be confidence builders or killers
  • can actually mean the difference between winning and losing.

Yet, there are a lot of players who don't take the time to be consistent free throw shooters.


Your team needs to be able to count on you when you step up to the line. Here's a breakdown of what would be considered good free throw shooting percentages based on your age:

Elementary.......50%
Middle School....60%
High School......70%
College............75%

How do you compare?

Resources to improve basketball shooting technique



Coach Ed Palubinskas, a free throw shooting world record holder and Olympic gold medalist, presents shooting principles and secrets that have allowed him to shoot 99% from the free throw line for over 30 years. These techniques are a must in developing great shooting form.

He breaks down all muscle movements involved in proper shooting technique that are instrumental to build shooting consistency, muscle memory and accuracy.

These techniques and principles, when mastered, will help any player at any age become a great shooter, not only from the free throw line, but around the court as well! 

SKLZ ShotLoc Basketball Shooting Trainer


From a technical standpoint, a free throw is a set shot. You need to master some fundamental mechanics of a set shot.

But when it comes to shooting free throws, basketball shooting technique is just the beginning...

There's an excellent program I have used with my teams called 80%: How You Can Shoot Foul Shots Better Than the Pros by Peter Greider.

Greider says, "The one most important thing that determines success or failure at the foul line is how you're feeling right before you shoot. And what determines what you're feeling? What you're thinking."

That's huge!

And that's what separates great free throw shooters from poor ones.

You may have the best shooting mechanics in the world, but if your frame of mind is not right when you step up to the line, your basketball shooting technique isn't going to matter much.

That's how powerful your mind is.

And that's where a good free throw routine comes in.

A free throw is uniquely different from every other shot in basketball. It's the only shot you take where:

  • The game stops, and you go from full speed to a dead stop before you shoot.
  • All attention in the gym is on you.
  • You can take your time and shoot when you're ready.
  • No one is allowed to block your shot or distract you while you're shooting.
  • You are standing still.
  • You shoot from the same spot every time.

A lot of players have a hard time making free throws in games because they have too much time to think before shooting the ball.

basketball shooting technique

Remember, your success at the line depends a whole lot on what you're thinking about before you shoot.

When you're shooting from the court during the course of a ball game, you often don't have time to think about your shot. You're too busy reacting to what's going on around you.

However, during a free throw, everything stops.

You have plenty of time to fill your mind with all kinds of distractions and negative thoughts.

The purpose of a free throw routine is to get control of your thoughts by focusing on specific things.

A good free throw routine:

  • Helps you catch your breath and relax
  • Gives you the confidence to feel like you have succeeded before you even take the shot
  • Prepares your body physically to make the shot
  • Blocks out distractions by giving you something to focus on rather than the pressure of the moment

Every basketball player will have their own routine. The important thing is, once you come up with one that's comfortable and works for you, don't change it. Do it the same way every time.

Secrets to Becoming a Great Free Throw Shooter


The best way to practice your basketball shooting technique is with fun basketball shooting drills specifically for free throws.

Home > Basketball Shooting Drills > Free Throws