The Art of The Free Throw


Photo Credit: Francisco Valladares

Most casual NBA fans can watch a Los Angeles Clippers game and scoff at the site of DeAndre Jordan, the team’s center, heading to the free throw line.


He’s shot 43 percent from the charity stripe throughout his career, and has increased his percentage to about 51 this season, but the airballs continue to be inevitable.

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Among 19 qualified centers, Jordan ranks 18th in terms of free throw percentage, and has even been victim of the infamous “Hack-A-Jordan,” where opposition players purposely foul him to gain an easy possession after he misses a free throw or two.

But what if I told you that casual NBA fans shouldn’t be so quick to think that scoring a free throw is so easy?

There are many factors that play into scoring a free throw efficiently, especially for an NBA player.

Not only do they have to deal with the pressure of being in a competitive NBA environment, but they need to make sure that they keep their form perfect and consistent throughout their shot attempt.

Even then it isn’t that simple, as Pete Zayas of Laker Film Room explained, eye dominance also plays a big role in shooting an efficient free throw.

Photo Credit: Francisco Valladares

“If your dominant eye is the same as your dominant hand, you want to line up at the [free throw line] with your foot on your dominant side lined up with the basket,” he said in a Twitter interview. “You’ll want your foot, your hips, the ball, and your dominant eye all aligned with the basket.”

The ex-coach and current creator of analytic YouTube content for Lakers fans also highlighted the importance of a player’s shooting foot, which is in the same side of your body as the side that you shoot with.

“Your shooting foot should be slightly ahead of your non-shooting foot.” Zayas said. “Then step out to the side until your non-shooting foot is underneath your other shoulder.”
According to Zayas, your shooting foot should now be ahead of your non-shooting foot at a proper distance.

These techniques, combined with a proper stance and release, should make for a good trip to the line.

Nonetheless, the process is lengthy and requires a lot of practice, so next time a casual NBA fan sees a free throw get bottled, they should remember that it’s not as simple as just chucking the ball and getting the bucket.

The free throw is an art, that can be difficult to master.

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