Loose Ball Foul Basketball

Basketball Loose Ball Foul

There are a number of different fouls in basketball, each of which involves various types of violations a player can commit. One type of foul which may not be as well-known to basketball fans is the loose ball foul. Read on to learn more about what a loose ball foul is, when it occurs, and what the consequences are.

What Is a Loose Ball Foul?

A loose ball foul in basketball is a foul committed while both teams are contesting possession of the ball, or a foul of any kind that is committed while the ball is loose. This often consists of grabbing, checking, or pushing another player. Loose ball fouls usually occur following shot attempts, turnovers, or passes.

When Does a Loose Ball Foul Happen in Basketball?

By definition, loose ball fouls must occur when the basketball is not in any player’s hands, thus deeming it a “loose ball.” This means that a loose ball foul cannot be committed if a player is currently holding or dribbling the basketball, as both of these count as being in possession of the ball. A loose ball foul can occur if the basketball is being passed between players, if the ball has been shot towards the basket, is on a rebound, or has been stolen or turned over by one team.

In basketball, most loose balls are only out of any player’s hands for a second or two, which explains why loose ball fouls are not quite as common as other fouls in basketball.

Result of a Loose Ball Foul

A loose ball foul counts as a team foul for the offending team and a personal foul for the offending player. If a player on defense commits a loose ball foul during a shot attempt and the shot goes in, the shot will count and the player will be given an additional free throw, regardless of which player was fouled or where the foul occurred. If the shot misses, the ball is awarded to the offensive team.

If the offended team is in the bonus situation, they will be awarded free throw attempts for every foul. If not, they will retain possession via an inbound pass behind the free throw line.

Loose Ball Foul Signal

The referee signal for a loose ball foul features the official holding their arms outward with the forearms parallel to the head and the fingers together, and then dropping them so that the hands are outstretched and perpendicular to the body, in a T-shape.


What is a loose ball foul in basketball?

A loose ball foul in basketball is a foul that occurs when the ball is not in the possession of any one player. Loose ball fouls most commonly occur during pass attempts, shot attempts, rebounds, or turnovers. These fouls are less common than other penalties in basketball, as they must occur during a loose ball, and loose balls tend to last for only a few seconds at most.

Why are loose ball fouls considered fouls?

Loose ball fouls are considered fouls in basketball because they can result in a number of hazards to players and referees. For instance, struggles between players for rebounds or deflected passes can result in injuries. Additionally, committing a foul during a loose ball situation could result in a referee declaring a technical foul against a team, or even a flagrant foul against a player, if the foul was egregious enough.

What is the penalty for a loose ball foul?

In basketball, the common penalty for a loose ball foul is a team foul for the offending team and a personal foul for the offending player. This means that whichever team was fouled will gain possession of the ball.