Offensive Foul Basketball

Basketball Offensive Foul

An offensive foul in basketball is a foul committed by an offensive player whose team is in possession of the ball. The offending player is charged with a personal foul, but their team is not charged with a team foul. No free throws are awarded after an offensive foul; instead, the ball is awarded to the offended team out of bounds near wherever the foul was committed. Below, you will find the meaning and definition of the most common offensive fouls.

Types of Offensive Fouls

Fouls can be called for pushing, holding, hitting, or any other prohibited contact. The most common offensive fouls include charging, illegal screens, and illegal contact.


Basketball Charging Foul

Charging is called when an offensive player collides illegally with a defender. Defenders who try to “take a charge” do so by standing stationary straight up with their feet facing the offensive player. If the defensive player remains planted and does not move before being impacted by the offensive player, a charge will be called.

Charges may not be called inside the restricted area on a basketball court. The restricted area is an arc located underneath the basket where players cannot be called for a charge, and it gives offensive players an incentive for getting so close to the rim.

Illegal Screen

Basketball Illegal Screen

An illegal screen is called when the player sets a screen and then moves to block a defender who is trying to get around the screen. For a screen to be legal, players must remain stationary once they set it. Screeners must also set screens at least one step from the defender so that they may react to the screen. Illegal screens may also include shifting laterally to ensure direct contact with the defender or making illegal contact while setting a screen.

Illegal Contact

basketball illegal contact

Illegal contact fouls are a more general term for any foul committed by any offensive player who initiates contact. If an offensive player pushes off or drives into a defender, they will be called for an offensive foul. These types of fouls are usually easier to call than charges, as it is usually obvious if an offensive player is initiating contact. Unlike charges, a defender does not need to have their feet set in order to draw an illegal contact foul, as long as the offensive player is the one initiating contact.


Does an offensive foul count as a team foul?

In basketball, offensive fouls do not count as team fouls unless the bonus is in effect. This is the only time a personal foul doesn’t count towards a team’s foul count. The bonus refers to a scenario in which any foul committed by a team results in two free throws for the remainder of the quarter. The bonus is activated whenever a team reaches a set number of fouls in a quarter or when they commit two fouls in the final two minutes of a quarter.

What counts as an offensive foul?

The most common offensive fouls are charging, illegal contact, and illegal screens. Charging occurs when a defensive player has their feet set outside of the restricted zone, and the offensive player initiates contact with them. Similar to charging, illegal contact is when an offensive player pushes off or drives into a defensive player, regardless of whether or not the defender was set. Lastly, illegal screens are called when a player setting a screen moves or extends one of their limbs to initiate contact with a defender.

Do you get free throws on an offensive foul?

In both the NBA and college basketball, free throws are not awarded for offensive fouls. This goes along with the fact that offensive fouls do not count towards a team’s foul count, either. Instead, a player who commits an offensive foul is charged with a personal foul, and possession of the ball is turned over to the other team.