Basketball Penalty Situation

Basketball Penalty Situation summary

In basketball, fouls and foul shots can be the difference between winning and losing the game. The penalty situation is a unique rule that awards free throws for non-shooting fouls. Keep reading to learn how the penalty situation works in basketball.

What Is the Penalty Situation in Basketball?

The penalty situation, also known as the bonus, is a situation where a team will get free throws after every foul committed by the other team. The rules for the penalty situation differ among leagues.

Personal and Team Fouls

In both college and professional basketball, every personal foul is also counted as a team foulA team’s total number of fouls determines whether the opponent is considered in the bonus. The number resets to zero every half or quarter. Once a team’s fouls reaches the number required for the bonus, every foul after that will result in free throws, even if it’s not a shooting foul. This means you can commit a technical or non-shooting foul, and it will result in free throws for the other team as long as you have the required amount of fouls.

NCAA Bonus Rules

In college basketball, there are two levels to the bonus. The first, just called the bonus, is reached when a team commits seven team fouls in a half. Every foul after the sixth team foul in a half (up until 10 team fouls) will result in a one-and-one. This means that a player gets two possible two free throws but will only get to shoot the second free throw if they make the first one. After each shot, the ball is live if the player misses.

The second level of the penalty situation in college basketball is called the double bonus. Every foul after the 10th team foul in a half will result in two free throws, no matter whether the player makes or misses the first free throw.

In NCAA basketball, team fouls continue to accrue from the second half through any overtime periods. Thus, if a team commits six team fouls in the second half and the game goes to overtime, their first team foul of overtime will put them in a penalty situation.

NBA Bonus Rules

The NBA has different rules for the bonus than collegiate basketball does. If an NBA team reaches five fouls in a quarter, the other team is now in the bonus. They will get two free throws for every foul committed after the fourth foul in a quarter. Committing two team fouls in the last two minutes of a quarter or overtime period will also put a team in the bonus. This is to prevent teams from fouling to get possession of the ball back, even if they have not committed enough fouls throughout the quarter.

During NBA overtime, a team enters the bonus when the other team commits four fouls (instead of the regulation five). During the last two minutes of any overtime, as it does during the last two minutes of regular play, it only takes two fouls to enter the bonus. The bonus also resets at the end of every overtime as it does at the end of every quarter.

Penalty Situation Strategy

There are some strategies that surround being in the penalty situation. Towards the end of a game, a team may try and intentionally foul the other team to get possession back. The way this works is simple. A team that is losing will foul if they have committed enough fouls to be in the penalty situation, giving the other team free throws and thus getting possession back after.


How does a penalty situation occur?

In basketball, a penalty situation occurs when a team commits too many personal fouls within a specified period. Also known as the bonus, a penalty situation will occur in the NBA if a team commits five team fouls in a quarter. The NCAA’s penalty situation starts after the seventh foul in a half, with a double bonus beginning after the tenth.