Skip to Content

The Definitive List of Offensive Fouls in Basketball

The Definitive List of Offensive Fouls in Basketball

The Definitive List of Offensive Fouls in Basketball

Within the sport of basketball, there are a number of fouls that can be assessed against either the offensive or defensive team.  Below, we are going to discuss the definitive list of offensive fouls in basketball and explain what each offensive foul means.

As stated above, a foul in basketball can be assessed against either an offensive or defensive player.  For this article, we will be focusing on offensive fouls. 

At its core, a foul in basketball is a rule-breaking action that can result in either the loss of the ball and its possession or for the possibility of free-throw shot attempts.  However, within this list there are a few nuances.

Firstly, there is the simple personal foul.  A personal foul is a foul that is physical in nature, such-as grabbing, pushing, or reaching in.

Secondly, there is the category of technical fouls.  A technical foul is a foul that is unsportsmanlike in conduct and can be assessed against either an offensive or defensive player.  These include yelling, taunting, or forcing a delay of game.

Lastly, and most seriously, is the flagrant foul.  Again, this can be assessed against either an offensive or defensive player and is typically the most dangerous of fouls.  This typically includes a foul that is dangerous in nature and includes deliberate or indeliberate contact that has the potential to harm an opposing player.

In the professional league, the NBA, a player can be assessed with six personal fouls before being removed from the game.  Similarly, in FIBA and the college league, the number of fouls a player can have assessed against them before being removed from the game is five.

Within a game, the referees are in charge of assessing a foul against a player and determining the foul type.  This can range from a personal foul to a technical foul, to a flagrant foul.

Although the rules differ slightly from league-to-league, the general rules remain the same throughout.  For our list of offensive fouls, we will be focusing on the professional leagues.

Lastly, it is important to remember that many of these rules exist for regulation games. Pick-up games tend to have different rules regarding fouls and how to call a foul in a pick-up game.

What is the Difference Between an Offensive and Defensive Foul?

Although fouls can be assessed against either an offensive or defensive player, there are varying rules which determine the foul type.

Generally, however, there are two types of fouls that can be assessed.  This is either a defensive or an offensive foul.

A defensive foul is a foul that is committed by the team on defense.  This can include fouls such-as a reach in, a blocking foul, or an illegal defensive screen.

Offensive fouls, on the other hand, are fouls committed by the team on offense.  Although these fouls are less common, they still do occur throughout the game.  These can include fouls such as a charge, an illegal screen, or a shove-off.

Charging Foul

Perhaps the single most common offensive foul in basketball is the offensive charge.  The offensive charge foul is assessed against a player that collides illegally against a defensive player.  This is typically done deliberately, wherein the defensive player will “take a charge”, by standing upright with their feet facing the offensive player.

If the defensive player remains planted and does not move before being impacted, the opposing player will be assessed with a charging foul and will lose possession of the ball.

Illegal Screen Fouls

Illegal screen fouls are another common offensive foul in basketball.  This foul is assessed when an offensive player performs a screen against a defensive player but remains limb-to-limb with the defensive player, not allowing them to pass by them. 

Illegal screen fouls may also be assessed against an offensive team when the offensive player moves laterally against the defensive player, forcing undue contact against the defensive player.

Hanging Foul

An offensive player may also be assessed an offensive foul if they hang on the rim or net of the basket during the game.  This will typically result in a technical foul and will incur a loss of the ball and a free-throw shot attempt by the opposing team.

However, in the case of injury prevention to either the player or another player on the court, an offensive player is allowed to remain on the rim or net.

Number of Players Foul

While not isolated to the offensive team, a team may be assessed a foul if there are too many players on the court.  As a regulation game of basketball is played with five-players on each team, a team with more than five players on the court may be assessed a foul if more than five players are on the court.

Delay of Game Foul

For an offensive team, a delay of game foul may be assessed if the offense commits an act which delays the prompt resumption of a game.  This can include interfering with the ball once a play is completed, failing to pass the ball to the nearest referee when a personal foul or. Violation is assessed, interfering with the ball after a successful field goal or free throw, or interfering with the ball before it is passed into the court.

Fighting Fouls

Again, a fighting foul may be assessed against either the defense or offense.  However, these fouls will typically result in a technical or flagrant foul being assessed due to the nature of the foul.  A fighting foul is assessed when a player, either on the court or on the bench, engages in a physical altercation with another player, referee, or spectator at the game.

Loose Ball Foul

A loose ball foul is a foul assessed against a player when the ball is loose and not in control by either team.  This foul can be incurred if a player acts in a manner that jeopardizes other players and can include kicking, shoving, or pushing of another player.