Free throw shooting unchanged over the years

Over time, things tend to change.

For example, in my early years running I was usually only able to juggle two, maybe three supermodel girlsfriends at the same time.

But now, with more experience, I have a regular rotation of 28 supermodels competing for my free time.

As for reality, one thing that hasn’t changed is the ability of basketball players to successfully hit free throws. Which makes sense. But it’s still interesting to consider.

The New York Times (John Branch) reports:

Since the mid-1960s, college men’s players have made about 69 percent of free throws, the unguarded 15-foot, 1-point shot awarded after a foul. In 1965, the rate was 69 percent. This season, as teams scramble for bids to the N.C.A.A. tournament, it was 68.8. It has dropped as low as 67.1 but never topped 70. In the National Basketball Association, the average has been roughly 75 percent for more than 50 years. Players in college women’s basketball and the W.N.B.A. reached similar plateaus — about equal to the men — and stuck there. The general expectation in sports is that performance improves over time. Future athletes will surely be faster, throw farther, jump higher. But free-throw shooting represents a stubbornly peculiar athletic endeavor. As a group, players have not gotten better. Nor have they become worse.

This could continue forever.

Author: Inside Hoops has been a world leader in NBA basketball coverage for over 20 years. Read our blog, but also be sure to read our main website on