Basketball Fouling

Believe it or not fouling can actually be used as a strategy in basketball to help a team win. Get ready to learn about basic foul strategy in basketball.


We've already learned about fouls in basketball and how they lead to rewards for the other team, either with free throws or possession of the ball.

In this tutorial, we will discuss fouling strategies at different times in a game.


Fouling is never a good thing to do because it rewards the other team with free throws. The rewards improve as more fouls are made.

Basketball Foul

Penalty Situations

When a team fouls over the limit they are in a penalty situation. When a team is in the bonus or double bonus (college basketball), teams get extra free throws on each foul.

Basketball Penalty Situation

RECALL: Player fouls keep track of the amount of fouls for each player, and team fouls are a running total of the amount of fouls a team has for the entire game.

When Fouling Is A Good Idea

However, there are strategies when purposely fouling can be advantageous to a team, like at the end of the game when time needs to be conserved or a team wants the ball back.

End Game Fouling Strategy

There are three (3) reasons a team will foul purposely close to the end of a basketball game:

End Game Situations

We've already learned about the game clock and the shot clock in basketball. The game clock keeps track of time in a period. The game ends when the game clock hits zero in the final period.

Imagine a situation where the score is close within a few points and a single basket can change the outcome of the game. Here's an example:

REMEMBER: The shot clock requires teams to shoot the ball and at the very least hit the rim in a certain amount of time or else a shot clock violation will be given.

Team A has the ball and the shot clock has more time on it than the game clock. Team A can run the clock down without worrying about the shot clock expiring. Team B needs to get the ball back, so they can have a chance at scoring a basket. To get the ball back Team B has one of two (2) choices:

  1. try and steal the ball
  2. to foul

Team B Chooses To Foul

By choosing to foul in this situation, Team B stops the clock from ticking and forces a player on Team A to shoot free throws. If the free throw shooter misses, Team B can get the rebound and try and score. If Team A makes only one (1) free throw, yes the score is now:

  • Team A: 73 points
  • Team B: 70 points

But it is still a one possession game, and Team B can try and make a three-pointer in hopes of winning.

Deciding To Foul

A team should factor in the following when deciding to purposely foul:

  • How much time is left on the clock?
  • How many points is our team losing by?
  • Which player should be fouled and what is their free throw percentage?

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