What is a Free Throw in Basketball

A free throw is one of the basic types of shooting in basketball. Free throws are also referred to as foul shots awarded to the team by the referee when the player of the opposite team commits a personal foul against them. Free throws are given to the other team after a foul on the shooter by the opposing team. Foul shots are not opposed by the other team thus it is an easy way to score points by shooting from behind the free-throw line or the charity stripe that is situated at the end of the restricted area. You can earn free points outside of the shot clock in case of a free-throw situation.

You will be amazed to know the fact that several types of fouls give you The shooter takes the ball and the other players from both teams lines up on either side of the key and the shooter can take the aim of the basket without any interruption that’s the reason free throws are much easier than other types of shots. If the shooter missed his free throw and if there are any free throws remaining then they can take another chance to score a basket. The referee collects the ball and gives it back to the shooter. Both teams go for a rebound if the player misses his last free throw opportunity.

In case of a free throw, an official delivers the ball to the free-throw shooter. The shooter must place above the free-throw line and within the upper half of the free throw. When the ball is in the free throw shooter’s hands then the player has only 10 seconds to perform a free throw in such a way that the ball enters the basket or touches the ring.

This is an easy opportunity to earn a score for your team. Free throws are only awarded in certain fouls. These various types of fouls included personal, technical, flagrant, and shooting fouls. The other type of foul doesn’t give you a chance for free throws. The free throw plays an important role in the winning or losing of a team. The basketball coaches often linked up their team’s success or failure with the performances at the free-throw line. As per recent research, free throws can prove beneficial at various stages of the games. In a single game, 18 to 20% of points were gained from free throws.

A free throw is not simple as it looks because there are many things behind a free throw such as free throw rules, the free-throw line, and the type of fouls that award free throws. Well, in this article I will brief you on every single detail that will enhance your knowledge. Let’s have a look at the below-mentioned details to explore more about free throws.

what is a free throw in basketball

1. Fouls that Awarded Free Throws

There are certain types of fouls in which the fouled player is awarded one or more free throws. The opposition will not be awarded free throws in every foul situation.  Just have a look at the below details to know about the fouls that award free throws.

Fouls that awarded free throws

Shooting Foul:

In three points goal shooting foul scenario the fouled player is rewarded with three free throws. If a player is fouled and makes the shot while shooting a three-point shot, then one additional free throw is awarded. The offense will be awarded two points in case of defensive player fouls from or inside the three-point line.

Bonus or Foul Penalty:

The bonus situation or penalty situation happens when a team exceeds the number of fouls in a specific time limit; the opposite team is awarded with a free throw on the subsequent fouls.  The opposite team is eligible for free throws regardless of the type of foul committed. In NBA the penalty situation occurs when a team commits five fouls in a single quarter. The fouled player is awarded two free throws; however, the rules of the bonus situation can be changed in different leagues.

Flagrant Foul

Flagrant foul is also known by its second name personal foul. Any type of excessive or violent contact that could injure the fouled player intentionally or unintentionally; however, all intentional fouls are not considered flagrant fouls furthermore flagrant fouls are divided into two categories that are flagrant-1 and flagrant-2 fouls. In any type of flagrant foul, the fouled team is awarded with two free throws and the fouled team retains possession of the ball.

Technical Foul

A technical foul also known as “T” or a “tech” happened due to the violation of the rules penalized as a foul without any physical contact during the time of play between opposing players or by a non-player. Unsportsmanlike conduct is considered a technical foul such as verbal abuse, taunting opponent or game officials, excessive celebrations, and feigning injury. A technical foul can be imposed on players, bench personnel, the entire team, and the crowd. In a technical foul, the fouled player is awarded one free throw and the fouled team keeps possession of the ball.

2. Free Throw Score

According to the basketball rules, a successful free throw is equal to one point. If you are awarded more than one free throw then you can earn more points because there are different types of fouls in which you are warded with multiple free throws. You can earn more points with more free throws without a contest. If the player is fouled while shooting for a three-point goal and missed the shot then three free throws are awarded. If a player is fouled while shooting a three-point shot and makes the shot, then one additional free throw is awarded thus, you can score four points.

The fouled player is awarded with two free throws in case of ten or more fouls committed by the team. Flagrant foul which means any sort of physical violence like hitting, kicking, and punching with the opponent will be awarded two free throws to the offense and the offense will keep possession of the ball after free throws. In a technical foul scenario, the opposite team will be awarded two free throws and the opposition retains possession of the ball.

3. Free Throw Rules

There are certain rules that you have to follow while shooting a free throw.  You have to follow the specific rules regarding positions, shooting, time limit, and next play. What are these rules and how can you follow that rules? Well, check out the below details to explore the free throw rules.

  • The ball will be placed in play by the official at the disposal of the free throw shooter.
  • The free throw line is also known as the foul line or the charity stripe. It is compulsory for a shooter to perform free throw behind the free-throw line and the distance of the free throw line is 19 ft from the baseline and 15 ft from the basket.
  • All the remaining players are not allowed to leave their assigned places until the shooter leaves the ball. The other players must remain behind the three-point line and the extended free-throw line.
  • In the dead ball scenario after the last free throw the other players cannot take place along the free throw lane.
  • The shooter has to throw the ball within ten seconds and the player cannot step on the free throw line or over the free-throw line until the ball touches the hoop.
  • If the remaining players leave their assigned places and interfere with the ball before it leaves the shooter’s hands is considered a violation.
  • Offended player is injured and cannot shoot the free throw then the opposing coach is liable to select the alternative player from his opponent’s bench.
  • Offended player is fouled or disqualified from the game before shooting then he has to leave the court area and the opposing coach will designate another player from the team to perform the free throw.
  • If the player is awarded two free throws then he has to perform both free throws although the first attempt is nullified due to a violation of the offensive player.

4. Free Throw Line

A free throw and a free throw line are interconnected with each other. The free throw line plays an important role because you cannot shoot a free throw without involving the free throw line. The free throw line is also referred to as a foul line or the charity stripe in which free throws are performed from behind the free throw line.

The shooter takes their position behind the free-throw line which is 5.8 m from the baseline and 4.6 m from the basket. The reaming players stand in their assigned places until the ball leaves the shooter’s hands. The player has to maintain his position behind the free throw line and the player is not allowed to step on the free throw line or over the free-throw line until the ball touches the hoop.

Frequent Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

Why free throw is important in basketball?

The free throw is important because the free throw can play an important role in winning or losing the game. The free throw allows you to score freely which means no other player will guard the ball and you can shoot the basketball easily. A free throw is equal to one point and you can earn more than one point depending upon the number of free throws awarded to you. If you are good in fundamental skills of the game then you can smoothly turn the game in your favor by shooting free throws.

Best free throw shooters in NBA?

We have seen exceptional players who have a perfect command of their skills and players are known as the legends of the game. Karl Malone, Moses Malone, Kobe Bryant, Oscar Robertson, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan are the best free throw shooters in NBA history however, if we look at the new talent Jordan Poole, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Trae Young, and Danilo Gallinari has the highest free throw percentage in recent year.

When free throws are awarded?

The free throw is awarded to the player who gets fouled by the opposing team although there are certain types of fouls in which free throws are awarded. The free throws are not awarded in every foul. Below are the types of fouls that awarded free throws.

  • Shooting Foul
  • Flagrant Foul
  • Technical Foul
  • Bonus or Foul Penalty


Free throws are a great way to earn a good score for your team because in free throws no other player will oppose you while shooting. You can score the basket in a certain type of fouls that award you free throws. In this article, you will explore the maximum details regarding the type of foul, free throw rules, free throw score, and the importance of free throws in a game although no other player is allowed to interfere while shooting but still free throw shooting is a hard task to do.

If you want to be consistent in free throw shooting then you must spend your time improving your skills. I have mentioned all the information that will help you to enhance your knowledge about free throws.

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