Fundamentals for Shooting the Basketball from the Free Throw Line, Part 1 – Shot Prep Position

Free throw shooting always takes place from the same place on the basketball court (and without a defender challenging your shot). Because of this, free throws can be your big chance to put points on the scoreboard.

All you need to do is master the fundamentals, tune out distractions, take careful aim at your Goalrilla Basketball Goal, and follow through.

As you practice your free throw shooting, refer often to this Basketball Goal Store blog (or better yet, subscribe!) so you can be among the first to master these and other basketball skills.

Free Throw Shooting Fundamentals: Part 1

There are three phases of shooting free throws:

1.       The Shot Prep Position

2.       The Cocked and Flexed Shooting Position

3.       The Release Shooting Position

Each phase of shooting requires the proper technique including the position of key body components:

  • Footwork
  • Lower body
  • Upper body
  • Head
  • Arm
  • Hand

Proper body positioning and movement, along with proper form when shooting the ball, will improve free throw shooting and scoring results.

Part 1 – The Shot Prep Position

Let’s concentrate on the Shot Prep Position for shooting the basketball from the free throw line:


  • Feet will always be pointed directly at the basket
  • The feet are hip width apart
  • The shooting foot and the shooting hand are on the same side
  • The shooting foot is in line with the middle of the basket
  • The off foot is in slightly behind the shooting foot, with the tip of the off foot aligned with the bottom of the shoelaces of the shooting foot

Lower Body Position

  • The lower body is always pointed toward the basket
  • Knees are bent

Upper Body Position

  • The upper body is slightly forward
  • The shoulders are square to the basket

Head and Eyes Position

  • Head is up, facing forward
  • Eyes are focused on the front lip of the rim of the basketball goal

Arm Position

  • The upper portion of the shooting arm is parallel with the upper torso
  • The shooting arm elbow points directly toward the floor
  • The forearm of the shooting arm is slightly above parallel
  • The guide hand/off-hand elbow is positioned in front of the off foot
  • Both the off arm and shooting arm positions produce “L” formations

Hand Position

  • The basketball is in the shooting hand
  • The off hand supports the basketball
  • The fingers of each hand are spread
  • The basketball rests on the pads and fingertips of both hands
  • The palms of the shooting hand and the off hand do not touch the basketball
  • The basketball is centered between the index and middle fingers of both the shooting hand and the off hand
  • The valve stem of the basketball is centered between the index finger and middle finger of the shooting hand
  • The thumbs of both the shooting hand and the off hand form a “T”
  • Both wrists are cocked and flexed
  • The skin around each wrist is wrinkled

Now that you and the basketball are properly positioned, you are ready to move into the cocked and flexed shooting position.

With the proper setup, body movement and shooting form, you can easily score uncontested points from the free throw line.

And here’s an added bonus: when opponents know that you score easily from the free throw line, they might just defend you less aggressively!

-Pat of the Basketball Goal Store Blog Team

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