Loose Ball Foul

What is a Loose Ball Foul in Basketball & NBA? Rule Definition

Whether it is the NCAA or the NBA, you might have heard the word from the announcers that they talk about a “Loose ball foul,” especially if you watch basketball on tv, aren’t you? Okay, I am considering that you haven’t heard it. Haven’t you heard a referee made the call in a game? Well, that’s what a loose ball foul is. However, the question that may arise in your head is, what exactly is a loose ball foul?

Well, don’t worry; you are not alone in this confusion. There is a little confusion about the exact definition of a loose ball foul, and not all the resources on the internet will give you the correct information. But as now you are here, you won’t have to worry about anything else. I have gathered some essential information about the loose ball foul that will help you to understand what exactly that thing is. So, buckle up and let the journey begin.

What is a Loose Ball Foul?

First of all, I would like to start with some background information to make the discussion a little more clear. It will help you to understand and gather in-depth knowledge about this basketball rule. Below you will get some explanations of the terms that are used for determining the fouls.

The categories are described below:

Personal Foul

This type of foul actually happens when one player commits any type of violation through physical contact, for which the opposite player feels complications to move freely. Basketball is a game where great physical contact takes place, so it depends on the referee to identify whether it is a violation and significant enough to call a personal foul.

Technical Foul

This happens when a player or team commits to any type of technical violation of the rules. Actually, it doesn’t need any involvement of the player contact. Generally, technical fouls take place when the fight breaks out. Commonly, they are called for things for time out when the team has no time left to play. Or due to the disrespectful act to the referee.
Team Fouls are the result of all sorts of personal fouls that are accompanied by the players. The team members of can commit this foul within a specific period of time. If a team reaches the maximum limit of team foul, the opposition will then receive a bonus. With that, they will be able to throw free for each additional foul. This will be counted in the bonus. In this case,

Personal fouls will be included in team fouls.
Technical fouls may not get the place personal foul. This usually depends on the team rules.
Personal fouls are different in numbers. These are:

  • Reach in foul
  • Shooting foul
  • Blocking foul
  • Charging foul
  • Over the back foul
  • And loose ball foul

Probably, you are familiar with most of them. That’s why I am not going to discuss all of them here. If you are still interested in them, you can search them online. There is plenty of information about the other fouls and rule books about how and when these fouls are counted. But for now, let’s concentrate on the loose ball foul and what it actually is.

What is a Loose Ball Foul?

As I have described above, a loose ball foul is actually a personal foul where a player has impeded the movement of another player. At this point, the referee will make the call.

In this case, the foul takes place when the ball is loose in the air or on the court. Here are few examples that will give you a clear idea about the loose ball foul.

When a ball role freely on the court after a player bobbles or loses the ball. At that time, one of the players is pushed by another to grab the ball.

A player throws the ball to his teammate, but at that time, the opposite teammate grabs the ball in the air by grabbing his arm.

A player’s shot is blocked while the ball falls to the court; at that time, the player pushes his opposite player so that he can’t retrieve the ball from the ground.

During the rebound from a long shot remains in the air, and one player forcefully grabs another player’s arm preventing him from jumping.

Well, these are the common mistakes that usually happens in every gameplay. Mistakes like pass deflections, rebounds, and shot blocks are included in this type of fouls. Many times the involvement of the players in fighting for the ball is also considered as a loose ball foul.

This type of fouls is always considered to be rough and has a higher chance of injury. This is because the foul takes place when the bodies are often higher from the court. In order to prevent this, a referee always has to remain active to blow the whistle so that further injury and fighting do not occur.

Most importantly, a referee has to act fast to identify whether the foul took place or the team has any involvement in the foul. If the foul occurs and the team has involvement in it, then it can be considered as a loose ball foul.

How to Protect a Loose Ball and Draw a Foul?

There are several techniques of recovering a loose ball and drawing a foul at the same time. If there are more hands-on the ball at the same time, the process of drawing a foul will be easier. You will definitely want to turn with the ball when you have a defender on your backside. The foul will take place when both of you want to grab the ball at the same time after turning around. At the time of turning around, you can make the ball look like a foul while keeping the opponent player on your backside. This will appear as if they are reaching in, and the referee may call a foul.


Does a Loose Ball Is Count as a Steal?

This actually depends on how the ball became loose. While a player is dribbling the ball and the defender pokes it out from his hand, it will become loose, and if the player becomes able to recover it, then the answer is yes, this term will be considered as a foul. In this case, even the teammate manages to recover the ball soon after it’s loose; it will still be counted as a foul.

Does the Shot Clock Reset?

The short answer to this question is no. It will not happen for the team who is previous to the loose ball. The opposing team who gains new possession will be reset to them.

Will I Get Free-throws on Loose Ball Fouls?

Yes, for each and every loose ball foul that has been committed by your opponent team, you will get a free throw. But in case if the player manages to gain possession again, you won’t get a free shot. For any offensive, no free throws will be counted.


Hopefully, you have understood the facts about the loose ball foul. Just remember the calls for the fouls are mostly depends on the referees. They will determine whether the foul has occurred or not. If you have got anything to ask or share, feel free to use the comment section below. I am eagerly waiting to hear from you.

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