Are you getting to the line enough? Are you sound enough defensively? More coaches are turning to this stat to fine-tune themselves at both ends of the floor.

Anybody who’s ever watched James Harden maneuver around the court, drawing contact with seemingly every deft drive to the lane, understands how important it is to be able to goad the opposition into fouls. 

Free throws at the end of the game have been making heroes and villains since this sport began. But the increased emphasis on getting to the line has had a trickle-down effect on the high school game. Players today need to be aggressive when they attack the rim.

That’s why some argue the rate at which a team gets to the line is more important than how many shots they actually make when they get there. Free throw factor, one of the Four Factors, is increasingly relied upon to measure how much pressure scorers apply on defenses. 

How It Works

Free throw factor shows you how often a player gets to the line when attempting to score.

Using this formula, and measuring it in conjunction with two and three-point field goal percentages, which player in this lineup would you say is the most dangerous threat at drawing contact going to the hole?

How Coaches Value It

Is free throw factor the most misunderstood of the Four Factors?

Some analysts, such as Hoopalytics’ Jay Cipoletti, argue this is actually more important than free throw percentage. He argues increasing the volume of free throws attempted with the same rate of makes increases your scoring more than just improving your rate of makes alone.

Most fouls occur in the painted area. Today’s game has become quite inviting for the celebrated dribble-drive motion offense, first brought to popularity by John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers. It’s highly valued for its ability to create scoring lanes from the wings through a series of drive-and-kicks. College teams running this style often aim to lead the nation in free throws attempted, and for good reason.

When you have players who are adept at spotting up and shooting, carving through traffic to find an open teammate can lead to some on-the-floor violations. If you have players who excel at driving, you’ll want to be as downhill as possible. That can increase the amount of three-point plays you convert, which will show up in the Four Factors report. 

For teams that pride themselves on playing shutdown defense, measuring free throw factor has become how they know how well they’re guarding. With today’s officiating emphases on hand checks, it can be challenging to toe that line between playing physical defense and getting in foul trouble. 

“That’s super important for us,” says Imhotep Charter (Pa.) boys basketball coach Andre Noble. “We want to make more free throws than our opponents take. We feel like when that’s the case, we’re going to win.

“It means we’re not letting them get in the lane, and that we’re guarding without fouling. So for ourselves, we want to make more free throws than our opponent takes.”

How You Can Use It

Knowing your players’ FTF helps you shape how you want to attack your next opponent. When you’re in a one or two-possession game late, you’re going to want to draw fouls. Looking at this stat through the filter of lineup efficiencies will tell you who to have on the floor in this situation.

Take this chart, for example. Which lineup are you going to roll out when you need to get to the line late in the game?

Let’s just say it—this stat is huge for scouting. 

Right away, you can see if a certain player from your opponent gets to the line a lot. You can pull up the video to see how those fouls are being drawn. Is the player a driver? Are they drawing contact on the way up to a shot from the wing? 

From there, you can look further to see just how they’re getting the foul calls. Does the player pull their shoulder? Do they have a great pump fake, getting underneath your arm and then going up? Usually people who get to the line have a couple of different moves. Knowing these details can make for more engaging practices leading up to the game.


Free throws might mean the difference between wins and losses. And not just at the end of games, but throughout the night. Are you measuring enough? 

Hudl Assist ties the data on these fouls directly to video. You don’t have to lift a finger.

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