What is a Loose Ball Foul in Basketball?

When you watch a basketball match, it must be challenging to understand all its rules because they are far more complicated than you imagined.

Besides that, while watching this match, you must have heard the commentator talking about the “Loose Ball Foul in Basketball,” which is one of these intricate rules.

However, you would not understand the whole game unless you know what a Loose ball foul is and how it works?  If you are one of them who is unaware of the loose ball foul, you are not alone!

Below, I have explained everything about the loose ball foul in basketball meticulously to understand the game more in-depth and know what kind of rule it is.

Loose Ball Foul

Before getting into detail about this rule, you must know about the loose ball foul’s basic definition. Loose ball foul means when neither team possesses the ball, and both teams contact each other physically to prevent them from getting the ball.

This foul generally arises when the players try to bounce the ball and have been boxed out contacts illegally while moving the ball towards the basket. However, after making this foul, the ball possession is given to the opposite team. 

Loose Ball Fouls are usually very rough, and there is a considerable chance of getting injured because, in this type of foul, the body flies around the court. Hence, at this moment, the referee must make a call and stop the game to prevent the player from getting injured.

An essential part in understanding whether the foul is a loose ball foul or not while the team possesses the ball is if the foul takes place in a situation when none of the teams has possessed the ball. In this situation, you would get that this is a loose ball foul.

What are some common foul types?

The basketball sport is all about the physical contact between two teams; thus, it is all upon the referee to make a call on time to avoid violation and fight. Although, the game has categorized its fouls into two classes:

Technical Foul

A technical foul in basketball is the type of foul when the player or the team violates technical rules. These technical fouls comprise the things such as coaches box violations, more or less than five team members, game deferral, involvement in the game when the team is on an inactive list, a player hanging with/or violation of basket ring. 

Personal Foul

The personal foul in basketball is the type of foul when only one player makes a violation against the conflicting player via physical contact, blocking that player from moving freely across the court. This type of foul includes slapping, hitting, pushing, picking screens, or holding.

Different types of fouls are there in basketball, such as blocking foul, reach-in foul, over the back foul, shooting foul, loose ball foul, charging foul, considered personal or team fouls.

However, you can see that the loose ball foul falls in the category of a personal foul.

Frequent Situations of Loose Ball Foul

Since the loose ball foul is the type of personal foul that occurs when the ball is in an open position in the court, neither team has possession over the ball. However, to make you understand more clearly, I have discussed a few loose ball foul conditions, which are very common in the basketball court.

  • When one of the players throws the ball towards his other team player, the opposing team player grasps that player’s arms, who is about to receive the ball and avoids him to catch the ball. 
  • When one player holds the opposing player’s arm while the rebound from a long shot in the air and the player cannot jump in the air and save the rebound.
  • When the player loses the ball, and the ball rolls around the court freely. In this condition, he tries to stop another player not to get the ball.
  • When a player’s shot is clogged, and the ball trips on the floor. At this moment, one player pushes another to the floor in order not to save the ball from the ground.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you strike free-throws on loose ball fouls?

Yes! While loose ball fouls, if the team is in the bonus, they will strike free throws. Yet, if the player manages to get possession over the loose ball and makes a violent foul shortly, no free throw would be granted.

What happens when you get two technical fouls?

If the player has made an unethical technical foul, then it fine. But if he has made sixteen unethical technical fouls during the regular season, it would result in a one-game deferral.

However, for each two-technical fouls during the regular season, it would end up in the increased deferral of the player or the coach.

How many fouls do you get before you foul out?

The player who makes five personal fouls over a 40-minute session would fall out and be excluded for the rest of the game. However, if the game session is 48-minute, it would be implemented over six personal fouls.


Hence, in basketball, a loose ball foul is a prevalent type of personal foul that usually occurs when none of the teams has possession over the ball.

However, in this foul type, one player contacts physically with another player to stop him from getting the ball. Moreover, in this situation, the referee also has to be alert to call on time to prevent violation in the court.