Getting to the foul line

It’s called the charity stripe for a reason. A team that gets fouled in the act of shooting or over and over again in a game, gets to shoot free throws.

The more free throws a team attempts, the better opportunity it has to score and win games.

This is measured through a team’s free throw rate.

FTRate = FTA / FGA

The amount of free throw attempts divided by the amount of field goal attempts.

For example, UCF attempted 798 free throws and 1763 shots over 33 games in the 2018-2019 season.

The Golden Knights’ free throw rate was 45.3, the fourth best amongst all Division-I teams over the course of the season.

FTRate = 798 / 1763 = 0.4526 * 100

Defensive Free Throw Rate

A team’s ability to prevent their opponent from getting to the foul line is equally important.

If the opposition attempts fewer free throws, it decreases their opportunity to score and increases a team’s chance to win.

For example, Notre Dame’s defensive free throw rate was the best in the country in the 2018-2019 season.

Irish opponents attempted 438 free throws and 2006 field goals in 33 games in 2018-2019.

Purdue’s Free Throw Rate was 21.8.

FTRate = 438 / 2006 = 0.2183 * 100

What about made free throws?

Free throw rate puts more value on getting to the foul line. Not making foul shots.

Volume is more important when measuring it this way. If a team can attempt more free throws, it has a better chance to score and win.

The assumption is a team that attempts more free throws is better than a team that makes more free throws over time. This doesn’t always show up in a single game.

The logic is the more attempts, the more opportunity to make foul shots.

Measuring Makes

Another way to measure a team’s ability to get to the foul line is to include a team’s ability to make foul shots, not just attempt them.

This calculation takes free throw makes and divides them by the total number of field goal attempts.

Using the same UCF example above, the Golden Knights made 442 free throws over 33 games in the 2018-2019 season.

Using this calculation, Kentucky’s free throw rate was 25.1.

FTRate = 442 / 1763 = 0.2507 * 100

Important: This calculation (makes) is significantly lower than using attempts, 45.3 versus 25.1 in the UCF example.