Free throw (basketball)

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A free throw by Dirk Nowitzki

In basketball, a free throw is a way for a player to score a point through an unhindered throw. Free throws are only awarded to a team after a foul by the opponent.

Game situations

One or more free throws are given if a player of the opponent commits a personal or unsportsmanlike foul, or if a player, substitute, coach or team manager commits a technical or disqualifying foul.

Personal foul restriction

In the case of a personal foul, free throws are only given if a player is fouled while throwing or moving to the basket, or if the team foul limit has been reached. All defensive fouls committed by a team are counted as team fouls. The limit in Germany , in FIBA games and in the NBA, is five fouls per quarter. In the case of offensive fouls, i.e. fouls by a player on the team in charge, no free throws are taken.

Number of free throws

The number of free throws depends on the underlying action:

  • If a player is fouled during a basket action or a throw and the ball goes into the basket, the points count and the player also receives a free throw. This also applies to unsportsmanlike or disqualifying fouls that occur during a basket action or a throw.
  • If a player is fouled in a basket action or a throw and the ball does not go into the basket, the player receives two or three free throws, depending on how many points the throw would have scored. A normal basket would result in two free throws, a three-point throw three free throws.
  • There is a free throw for technical fouls.

Determination of the free thrower

In the case of personal and unsportsmanlike fouls, the fouled player must take the free throws. If this is not possible due to an injury, his substitute takes the free throws. In the event of a technical foul, the fouled team can determine which player should take the free throws.

Positions of the players

Position of the free thrower

Schematic representation of the setup in the restricted area while free throws are being executed.

When performing the free throws, the free thrower takes his position behind the free throw line at the upper end of the limited zone and within the semicircle. The thrower may not touch or cross the free-throw line before the ball has touched the ring. After the ball has touched the basket, the second throw may be disturbed to counter or to hold the ball.

Positions of the other players

A maximum of five players may line up on the side lines of the delimiting zone in the positions provided (see illustration) (there are deviations in American college basketball ). The lower position on both sides, which is closest to the baseline and the basket, may only be occupied by one player from the team that does not take the free throw (here team B) . In addition, one player of the throwing team may line up on each side (team A) . In addition, another player from the non-throwing team may line up on one of the two sides next to one of the opponents (players of team B) .

The other players must be outside the two-point area (behind the three-point line ) and behind the free-throw line (at most at the same height as the free-thrower or behind him). The players in the zone may only change their positions after the ball has left the thrower's hand. All other players may only enter the zone after the ball has touched the ring.

The thrown ball must touch the ring or fall through it (from above): a direct pass or an indirect pass over the board or the floor is not permitted.

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