Can You Jump During a Basketball Free Throw?

Younger players often learn how to throw the ball into the basket with a little jump. They may do this because they are smaller and that jump gives them a little more power to make it in and score a point. But, as you get older and start playing competitive basketball, you may wonder whether you can jump when making a free throw or not. 

You can jump when making a free throw as long as you don’t cross the free throw line. There is nothing in the rules that prevent a player from jumping while on the free throw line. However, it is not recommended and is not the best technique for making consistent free throw shots.

Let’s take a closer look at why some players choose to jump when completing a free throw, why this is not always a good option, and how you can practice your free throw without jumping. 

Can I Jump While Making a Free Throw?

You can jump when making a free throw. There is nothing illegal about jumping during this shot while playing basketball. It is not considered good form, though, and can cause you to get a violation if you accidentally jump over the free throw line. 

Why Would Someone Need to Jump When Shooting Free Throws?

Younger athletes tend to jump when they do a free throw. They have not developed the strength in their arms, so they use their legs to add a bit more power to the shot. Others find it is a confidence booster or makes the shot easier. 

There are several reasons why someone may choose to jump when they do a free throw, including:

  • To add more power to their shot and get it to reach the basketball rim. 
  • They feel more confident when they shoot while jumping. 
  • Jumping while throwing the ball is how they first learned to do it, so it has become a habit. 

However, as soon as a player can make a free throw without jumping, they should stop and retrain their free throw technique without jumping. While it may feel like a habit to jump as you throw and will take a little more practice, shooting from the ground leads to higher accuracy and is better form during the game. 

How to Throw a Free Throw Without Jumping

Ideally, you will learn how to throw a free throw without jumping. Younger players may learn to jump for this play to help them get used to the technique. As your arm strength gets better and you learn how to play the game, it is better to learn how to do this shot without jumping. 

Here’s some basic pointers on good free throw technique without jumping:

  • Stand still so you have a good center of balance. 
  • Take your time to prepare. You do not need to throw the ball immediately. 
  • Focus on the rim when shooting. 
  • Do not cross the free throw line at all or you will receive a violation.

Practice is the best way to dump the habit of jumping during your free throw. This helps your arms get stronger and can prevent you from automatically jumping each time you get to the line. It will not take long before shooting free throws without the jump feels more natural. 

Benefits of Free Throw Without Jumping

Learning how to do a free throw without jumping is a good decision when playing basketball for several reasons:

  • Prevents a violation by accidentally jumping forward
  • It improves accuracy since you have stable footing and balance
  • Improves arm strength which is useful for all other shots

Basketball players who learn how to shoot a free throw without moving have a distinct advantage over other players. 

Free Throw Violations and Jumping

Jumping during the free throw can bring up a few problems, the first one being committing a violation, as follows.

You may jump forward a bit and go over the free-throw line. This cancels out the point you would have earned. If you do jump, make sure that you jump up, and not forward. 

Shooting Free Throws From the Ground Is More Accurate

Another advantage of doing a free throw standing still is it provides more accuracy

This is due to several factors all happening at once:

  • Your center of balance is not being adjusted during the shot. When you jump, your body is forced to compensate for all of the changes in inertia and positioning which can push off your center of balance and generally just make the shot more complicated.
  • You have a much lower risk of accidentally holding on to the ball too long—it’s not uncommon to see violations from players who jump at the very end of their time, but don’t release the ball until the peak of their jump a second later. 
  • Your body is more stable. Even if you are practiced, fit, and a killer player, the fact remains: your entire body and shot posture is much more stable and grounded if you don’t jump. Why introduce the added risk of a jump to destabilize your aim?

Once you get used to the motion of throwing the ball without a jump, you will find that your free throw accuracy goes up. 

Shooting Free Throws without Jumping Trains Arm Strength

As you build up your arm strength to be able to hit shots from the free throw line, not only will you see your free throw accuracy go up but that new strength will translate into across the board improvements in strength, confidence, and accuracy in your shots.

Improving your arm strength during free throw drills directly feeds back into nearly all other static shots you make on the court.

Are There Any Reasons To Jump During a Free Throw?

We’ve talked a lot about the risks and unnecessary complexity of jumping during a free throw, and while those reasons are perfectly valid, there may be situations where you end up doing it anyway.

The most common reason to continue jumping for free throws? Lack of upper body strength. As we have mentioned, most of the players that jump during a free throw do it because this way they get enough power to reach the rim with their shot. Or maybe they feel like they can control they strength much better this way. This happens usually with young players.

Is there any other reason? Yes, Fun! We’re not all professionals, and for those of us just playing pick-up games with buddies for entertainment or exercise the stakes are much lower.

The upside of making jumping free throws is that you feel really slick when you do make one. If you are willing to accept a little more instability and loss of accuracy, then jump away—it’s a nice bit of flair!

Making a Free Throw Without Jumping

While jumping during a free through is not illegal in basketball, it is better to learn how to shoot free throws without jumping at all. Work on improving your upper body strength so you can make a shot without having to jump. 

Remaining grounded while shooting free throws allows for more accuracy, prevents injuries, and reduces the risk of being hit with a violation. If you are used to jumping during a free throw, take some time to practice the movements and techniques of this shot for a while to help you adjust and get comfortable doing it the right way.


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