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Youth Basketball Free Throw Shooting Tips & Drills

It's tough to find a way to get through, over, and around five defenders in youth basketball game, so any time you are given a free opportunity to put points on the board, you have to be able to take full advantage of it.

Author: Trevor Sumner
Date: Jan 5, 2010 - 2:40:48 PM

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It's tough to find a way to get through, over, and around five defenders in youth basketball game, so any time you are given a free opportunity to put points on the board, you have to be able to take full advantage of it. The ability to get to the foul line and then make a high percentage of your free throws is critical to the success of any basketball team, and free throw shooting is something that one can definitely improve through attention to detail and a good bit of practice.

When it comes to free throw shooting from a basketball team perspective, there is a huge swing in potential advantage depending upon a squad's ability to drain their foul shots. If you are nearly automatic when you head to the charity stripe, each time your opponent makes a mistake and commits a foul they pay for it and you put easy points on the board. If you miss, their mistake doesn't hurt them, and you waste a possession when the defense did not actually stop you. If you look deep into the statistics in any basketball league at any level, you will find that teams that get to the free throw line frequently and subsequently make a high percentage of their fouls shots are always at or near the top of the standings. There are several fundamental principles to consider when shooting from the free throw line.

Below are some tips for proper basketball free throw shooting techniques as well as some fun basketball drills for your youth basketball team’s practice.  You can also find more free basketball skills & drills videos and tutorials online at websites like

Basketball Free Throw Shooting Tips

  • Relax, take some deep breaths, and focus on the basket.
  • Go through your ritual with the ball (whatever it may be, a spin, a couple of dribbles) calmly and consistently to get in rhythm.
  • Assume the proper leg position, usually about shoulder length apart with shooting side leg slightly forward.
  • Use proper basketball shooting techniques with the basketballball on fingertips, knees bent, and elbow in.
  • Concentrate and follow through.

Basketball Free Throw Shooting Drills

  • Rhythm Drill
    With this basketball drill, players gradually ease into their shooting rhythm. Each player starts near the basket and takes a shot, and when it is made, takes a couple of steps back and shoots another. Then a couple more steps back and another shot, and finally a fourth just inside the stripe. If they miss from any of these spots they keep shooting from there until they make one. After shooting and making four shots inside the stripe, they then shoot from the foul line until they make ten shots. Then, they make their way back to the start by shooting from the four positions inside the stripe in reverse order until they are back at the starting position.

  • Concentration Drill
    During the basketball game, players are not going to have the luxury of a silent, meditative environment when they are shooting free throws (especially on the road). This drill will help players learn to keep their focus while being distracted. Divide the team into thirds and form three lines, one at the foul line for shooters and two other lines outside of and along the three second lane. The players along the lane try to distract the shooter, waving their arms, yelling, talking, anything they can do to try to break the shooter's concentration. The shooter takes ten free throws. Players rotate and each one has his or her turn as the shooter.

View all articles by Trevor Sumner

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