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Basketball Fouls…Learn the Rules of the Game

Do you need help understanding the various Basketball Fouls that players commit during a game or practice? If so, this page will definitely help you!

The game of basketball is a contact sport! There are ten players on the court that are in constant motion – running, jumping, shooting, and moving throughout the entire game.

Because of this constant movement by the players, basketball fouls are often committed. The rules of basketball discourage rough or overly-aggressive play.

The game is meant to be played in a competitive and fun nature -not in a violent way. Therefore, the rules are designed to penalize the players that are playing in an excessively rough manner.

Basketball fouls are called when the official feels there has been physical contact between two players and that one player has gained an advantage because of that contact.

Here are some basic guidelines used by the officials to determine which player has committed the foul after contact has occurred:

  • The first player to become set in a position on the court has the rights to that position.
  • When a player moves into the path of an opposing player, obstructs their path, and contact is made – that player is responsible for the contact made.
  • A player cannot extend an arm or leg in the pathway of an opponent. When this happens, that player is responsible for the contact made.
  • Players have the right to the area extending from their feet, which are set on the floor, up. This is their floor space.

Basketball Fouls – Personal Fouls

The following is a list of the more common fouls committed by players during a game or practice. These fouls are personal fouls that are called against the player initiating contact with an opposing player.

  • Blocking – When a player uses their body position to prevent their opponent from advancing.
  • Charging – When an offensive player runs into a defender who has an established position.
  • Elbowing – When a player swings their elbows in an excessive manner and makes contact with their opponent.
  • Holding – Using the hands to interfere with or limit an opponent’s freedom of movement.
  • Illegal Screen – The player setting the screen is still moving when the defender makes contact with them. This is a form of blocking which prevents the defender from moving around the screen.
  • Hand Check – When a defender intermittently or continuously uses one or both hands on an opposing player, usually the ball handler.
  • Holding – Using the hands to interfere with or limit an opponent’s freedom of movement.
  • Over-the-Back – Jumping on and over the back of an opposing player who is attempting to rebound the basketball.
  • Reaching In – When attempting to steal the basketball, the defender extends their arm and hand and makes contact with the ballhandler.
  • Tripping – When a player uses their foot or leg to cause their opponent to fall or loose their balance.

Other Common Basketball Fouls

The following list is some of the other common fouls that are committed during a game or practice.

  • Flagrant Foul – A foul committed in an violent and harmful manner.
  • Intentional Foul – A foul committed on purpose, usually by a defensive player, to stop the clock or prevent a basket.
  • Shooting Foul – When a defender makes contact with an offensive player who is in the act of shooting the basketball.
  • Technical Foul – Violations and misconduct that are detrimental to the game. These are penalized by free-throw opportunities.

Basketball Fouls And Consequences

Every basketball foul that is committed has a specific consequence or punishment for the player and team committing the foul. The following list outlines the specific consequence for each type of foul.

  • Flagrant Foul – Two free throws, possession of the basketball out of bounds, and the player committing the foul is disqualified.
  • Intentional Foul – Two free throws and possession of the basketball out of bounds.
  • Personal Foul – Possession of the basketball out of bounds. One-and-one free throw situation if the team is above their foul limit.
  • Shooting Foul – Two or three free throws depending on the type of shot taken.
  • Technical Foul – Two free throws and possession of the basketball out of bounds.

For a thorough understanding of the rules of basketball, I would encourage you to check out the page on National Federation of State High School Associations.


I hope you found this information on the various types of Basketball Fouls to be helpful and informative. Learning and understanding the rules about each of these fouls is an important part of developing a good knowledge of the game – for players, parents and coaches. The better you understand the game – the more you will be able to enjoy playing, watching and coaching it!