In this article, we'll discuss each form of illegal defense and how the defensive team is penalized for committing an infraction. Let's get started.
While man-to-man defense (each defensive player is assigned an opposing player to guard throughout the game) is the most popular method used to prevent the offense from scoring, teams also utilize zone defense from time to time (players are assigned an area of the court to protect rather than an individual opponent). Zone defense used to be forbidden in the NBA, however it was legalized prior to the 2001-2002 season. Despite this rule change, zone defenses are rarely used at the professional level because it is easy for defensive players to find themselves in illegal position that results in a lane violation. Lane violations, otherwise known as 'defensive three seconds,' occur when a defensive player is caught standing in the painted area without actively guarding an opposing player. When a referee stops play to call a three-second violation, the team on offense is given a foul shot followed by possession of the ball.
Illegal contact, also known as a 'foul', occurs when an offensive or defensive player makes contact with an opposing player such that they are unable to finish a play. Some of the more common types of fouls are outlined below