Basketball Fouling

Basketball Fouls and violations

Fouling in basketball is the act of purposely committing a foul against another player like being called for unsportsmanlike conduct or making illegal physical contact.

Basketball Free Throws

Basketball shooting a Free Throw

When a player is fouled while shooting, they have the right to shoot free throws worth 1 point each. If the player was fouled during the act of shooting a three pointer, they will have three free throws, while if they were fouled while shooting a two point shot, they will have two free throw attempts. If the fouled player still manages to somehow make the shot despite the physical contact by the opponent, they will shoot only one free throw, while adding the field goal's points to the scoreboard.

Whenever a team reaches the team foul limit, all fouls, regardless of being committed during shooting or not, will lead to free throw attempts to the opponent.

Basketball Fouling End Game

When trailing by a small margin during the dying the last minute or so of a game, teams use a strategy where they purposely foul. Fouling at the end of a game is smart for three reasons:

  1. Free throws are only worth one point.
  2. Fouling stops the game clock from ticking.
  3. You can get the ball back with a rebound or an inbound pass.

That way, the team that trails hopes that the free throw shooter misses the free throws. That allows them to get the ball back without burning the clock. However, most of the time players make the free throws; still the strategy is valid, as they will seek to add three points to score while only allowing two points maximum, that way making the point difference smaller.

Basketball Hack A Shaq

Don Nelson, the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks from 1997-2005, first applied hack-a-shaq against top player Shaquille O'Neal, who although was a remarkable basketball player, was also a remarkably bad free throw shooter. With hack-a-shaq, players purposely fouls a particularly bad free throw shooter. That stops the opponent's offense while exploiting an opposing player's weakness. Hack-a-Shaq is sometimes used at the middle of the game, which leads to a lot of stopping, making the game boring. Because of that, the hack-a-shaq strategy is not very liked by basketball watchers.

NBA Fouls Away From Play

For the 2016-17 NBA season, the NBA introduced a rule that gives any team that is fouled one free throw and possession of the ball if the foul is made in the last two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime. This rule is designed to prevent strategies like hack-a-shaq.

Basketball Penalty Situations

Fouling rewards the other team with free throws. The rewards improve as teams foul more. Teams enter penalty situations, like the bonus and double bonus, which gives them additional free throws every time a player is fouled. The double bonus is only in college basketball.

Fouling Out In Basketball

Basketball Foul Out

Fouling too much can also get a player booted from the game. This is called fouling out. When a player fouls out, they have reached their limit of player fouls.

In the NBA, a player will foul out of the game if they reach six fouls. In college and FIBA basketball, a player will foul out of the game if they reach five fouls.

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 To Foul In Basketball

When deciding to purposely foul, you should consider the following:

  • 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?
  • How many fouls do I have?
  • Would it be ok for the team if I fouled out?

End Game Basketball

Imagine a basketball game with the following score and Team A has the ball.

  • Team A: 72 points
  • Team B: 70 points

There is this much time on the game clock and shot clock.

  • game clock: 18 seconds
  • shot clock: 24 seconds

Team A can let the game clock hit zero with just dribbling. Team B needs to get the ball back to even the score. To get the ball back Team B has two choices:

  1. Steal the ball
  2. Foul the dribbler

Stealing the ball is harder than fouling and doesn't guarantee possession. In this case, Team B should foul. It is possible that Team A makes a free throw, but it remains a one possession game. Team B gets the ball and can tie the game if they make a three-pointer.