How far is the free throw line from the hoop?


The free-throw line has always been a mystery in basketball, games have been won and lost at the free-throw line, players who normally shoot over 80 percent choke on the line due to the pressure. In reality, the free-throw is a high percentage shot until you are on the line for a game-winning point. But what is it about the free-throw line from the basket that makes it so difficult? Is it the distance?

How far is the free-throw line from the basketball hoop? The free-throw line from the basketball hoop is 15 feet or 4.61 meters in length, to put the distance in perspective it is about the length of a midsize car. The width of the free-throw line is 12 feet or 3.7 meters. The length and width of this area is a term called the “key” in basketball.

To a basketball player, the free-throw line does not seem particularly far but the level of difficulty is a mystery when the game is on the line and you watch the players make the most difficult shots only to go to the free-throw line and miss while no one is guarding him hence the word “free”.

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A Little History

The free-throw line itself has gone through some changes since the game of basketball was invented over a hundred twenty-five years ago. If you were fouled, and it would have had to be what today is known as a flagrant then you were granted a shot from the free-throw line from 20 feet. If you made the shot, you would score a field goal and be awarded 2 points, not 1. In 1985 the free-throw line was moved to 15 feet and ever since had stayed that way.

Statistics show that even though the field goal percentages in college basketball have increased throughout the years and players are becoming much better at shooting it is still not the case when it comes to the free-throw line. As a whole, the NCAA league wide has averaged around 68 to 70 percent in the last few decades.

Rules At The Free-Throw Line

Rules to shooting a free throw wait there’s rules to shooting a free-throw? Yes here is a couple:

  • You may not stand on the line or cross it while taking a shot.
  • You may jump to shoot the free-throw but again you may not cross the line or it’s a violation.
  • You get 10 seconds to shoot the free throw.
  • You as the shooter may not rebound the ball and cross the line until the ball hits the rim.
  • If you shoot the ball and it airballs while that being your last shot the ball is turned over to the other team in-bounded.
  • Hitting only the backward does not count and will be treated as an airball.
  • You cannot pump fake a free throw.


Interesting fact:  Wilt Chamberlain when shooting free throws would run from the opposite end of the court and jump before the free throw line while dunking or laying it up to score the free-throw. Wilt led the league in free-throws for 9 straight seasons. They eventually changed the rule because of him. Chamberlain averaged a career 50 percent from the line, which goes to show he was an awful shooter.


When do you shoot free throws?

Free-throws are shot when a player is fouled, the number of free throws the player will shoot depends on where the player was shooting from. Anything inside the 3 point line is 2 free-throws and anything beyond the 3 point line is three free-throws.

There are times when a team is in bonus once they reach a certain amount of fouls, they then will shoot free-throws due to the penalty. More on bonus in basketball Click Here! Lastly, you may shoot free-throws due to a technical foul on the opposing team.


 Question & Answers


Are you allowed to jump to shoot a free throw?

Yes as long as you don’t cross the line.


What happens when a player is injured and they cannot shoot the free throw?

 The player must leave the bench area while the substitute will shoot for them.


 Can you pass to yourself off the backboard from the 3-point line from the free-throw line?

 Short answer no.


 Can you pass to yourself by shooting the ball at the rim making the ball come back to you?

 You can,  it’s legal but extremely difficult.


 How big is a basketball rim?

 The basketball rim is 18 in diameter, believe it or not but two basketballs when forced in can fit at the same time, more in this article.


 How high is a basketball hoop?

 10 feet


That concludes the article I hope you learned something new, feel free to look around the site and come back soon as I update the blog weekly.


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