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How to foul less when playing basketball

by | Sep 27, 2020

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Learning how to foul less in basketball is important for all players.

When playing competitively, one too many fouls and you’re out of the game.

Even if you’re just playing with friends, it’s never fun when someone is always hacking and fouling.

With these five tips, you’ll be able to avoid fouling too much out there on the court.

Reach for the ball wisely

It can be very tempting to reach recklessly to steal the ball from your opponent.

But, this can lead to cheap fouls.

A good defender will only reach for the ball when it’s exposed AND there’s a genuine opportunity to steal it.

Firstly, your opponent often has their body in between you and the ball.

Also, your opponent on offense is usually in a position to get to the ball before you.

Reaching at these points realistically leads to one of the following:

  • You give up a poor foul
  • Your opponent gets past you easily

… and we wouldn’t want either of those.

Hands up!

You’ll often hear coaches and basketball announcers talk about great “hands-up” defense; it’s a key habit to build so that you foul less.

Although maybe a bit clichéd, it IS great for lockdown defense, for multiple reasons.

Firstly, it makes you much taller, making it difficult for your opponent to score.

However, it is often more effective to only keep one hand up at most when defending on the perimeter.

Having your hands in the air reduces your lateral quickness.

Also, it HUGELY reduces the chance of you picking up a foul.

This is because it is clear for everyone to see that you can’t have made illegal contact using your arms.

basketball defense tips teaching how to foul less

Absorb contact with the body

This leads on to the next way you can foul less…

Defend your opponent with your body. (limit the use of your hands/arms to when making contact with the ball)

Whether defending the dribbler on the perimeter, or contesting a shot inside, this is your best bet.

As always, there are exceptions: one hand on your defender WITHIN the frame of your body is usually allowed. (such as when they are driving or posting up)

Regardless, it’s best to use your feet to get in position to cut off your opponent and absorbing contact with your body.

This makes it pretty much impossible to pick up a foul.

Just pure lockdown defense.

This is why a low and stable defensive stance is important, giving you the ability to absorb contact in this way.

If your opponent is reckless on offense, this can even help you draw a foul on them.

Blocking shots

You also need to be careful with how you try to block shots, when trying to avoid fouling.

It can be tempting to go for a huge swat, when often it’s better to jump straight up with your hands stretched tall.

This will prevent you from fouling AND is great defense.

Improving your vertical jump can help with this.

Even when the opportunity for a huge swat-block arises, a bad defender will swat recklessly at their opponent.

Let’s not be that bad defender.

Instead, focus on the path of the ball towards the basket. (like the best shot blockers in the pros)

Offensive fouls

You can get called for a foul on offense as well, which can be one of the most frustrating ones.

Usually, this is a ‘charging foul’ where a player runs into a defender that is standing still.

This can also be called when an attacking player bumps a defender (that has legally cut them off with their body as previously mentioned) too aggressively.

This can be difficult, especially for more naturally aggressive players players, but be careful when making contact with your defender.

If the defender is moving with you side by side, or they haven’t legally cut you off, you are free to bump them to create space.

It can take time to master the nuance, but learning this skill is sure to help you foul less.

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