NBA's Lone Constant: Free-Throw Stats

NBA's success rate has hovered around 75% for half-century
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2009 7:53 AM CST
NBA's Lone Constant: Free-Throw Stats
Florida State's Alysha Harvin sinks the game-winning free throw with 8.7 seconds left in an NCAA college basketball game against Miami on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009, in Miami.   (AP Photo/Miguel A. Olivella Jr)

Basketball's free-throw statistics have stayed steady at a rate that amazes academics, the New York Times reports. While most aspects of basketball and other sports have seen records steadily edge up over the years, free-throw shooting hit a plateau of a 75% success rate in the NBA more than 50 years ago and has barely budged since then.

Improvements in physiology, technology, and equipment have no effect on the simple act of shooting from the foul line, experts note, leaving coaching as just about the only place to make improvements—and few teams focus on it. "A lot of coaches give it lip service," says one, "but when you say that games are won and lost at the free-throw line, you better back it up." (More basketball stories.)

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