Technical foul

Last updated

In basketball, a technical foul (colloquially known as a "T" or a "Tech") is any infraction of the rules penalized as a foul which does not involve physical contact during the course of play between opposing players on the court, or is a foul by a non-player. The most common technical foul is for unsportsmanlike conduct. Technical fouls can be assessed against players, bench personnel, the entire team (often called a bench technical), or even the crowd. These fouls, and their penalties, are more serious than a personal foul, but not necessarily as serious as a flagrant foul (an ejectable offense in leagues below the National Basketball Association (NBA), and potentially so in the NBA).


Technical fouls are handled slightly differently under international rules than under the rules used by the various competitions in the United States. First, illegal contact between players on the court is always a personal foul under international rules, whereas in the United States, such contact is, with some exceptions, a technical foul when the game clock is not running and/or when the ball is dead. Second, in International Basketball Federation (FIBA) play (except for the half-court 3x3 variant, in which individual personal foul counts are not kept), players foul out after five total fouls, technical and personal combined (since 2014, one technical can be included towards the total; committing another risks immediate ejection). The latter rule is similar to that in college, high school, and middle school basketball in the United States. However, in leagues that play 48-minute games such as the NBA, and in some leagues such as the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), players are allowed six personal fouls before being disqualified, and technical fouls assessed against them do not count toward this total. However, unsportsmanlike technicals in the (W)NBA carry a fine, its severity depending on the number of technicals the player has already obtained, and players are suspended for varying amounts of time after accumulating sixteen technicals in the regular season or seven in the playoffs.

In most American competitions, ejection of the offender, that of the player, coach, or otherwise, is the penalty for being assessed two technical fouls in a game, if charged directly to him/her (some technicals committed by a player are charged to the team only). In addition, any single flagrant technical foul, or a disqualifying foul in FIBA, incurs ejection. FIBA rules do not provide for ejection for any number of non-flagrant technicals (known as unsportsmanlike fouls under that body's rules) against a player, except in 3x3, in which two unsportsmanlike fouls result in ejection. FIBA rules call for ejection when a coach draws two technicals, or a third is called on the bench.


Many infractions can result in the calling of a technical foul. One of the most common is the use of profane language toward an official or another player. This can be called on either players who are currently active in the play of the game, or seated on a team's bench. It can also be assessed to a coach or another person associated with the team in an official capacity such as a trainer or an equipment manager. Additionally, coaches or players can be assessed a technical foul for disputing an official's call too vehemently, with or without the use of profanity. This verbal unsporting technical foul may be assessed regardless of whether the ball is dead or alive.

Other offenses can result in technical fouls, such as:

Violations of the rules for delaying the game (in the NBA, NCAA, and NFHS) usually incur a team warning for a first offense, followed by a team technical, or sometimes a player technical, if the same team delays a second time, to include:

and more technical issues, such as:

The NBA has an Illegal Defense rule. Until 2001, it was designed to stop defenders from dropping back into a zone and thus preventing drives to the basket. The penalty, after a warning, was a technical foul charged to the offending team and one shot for the offense, except that if the first violation occurred within 24 seconds of the end of a period, the technical was assessed without warning.

Beginning with the 2001–02 season, the rule, now known as "Defensive Three Seconds," prohibits a defender from being in the shooting lane for three seconds, unless guarding an opponent within arm's reach (or the player with the ball, regardless of distance). The penalty is the same as it was for an illegal defense, except that no warning is issued. The WNBA implemented this rule in 2013.

Additionally, home teams can be assessed technical fouls resulting from their partisans' misconduct for excessive use of artificial noise, the playing of music by their band, or for dangerous offenses such as throwing items (particularly ice or coins) onto the court.

Usually a fight or lesser altercation between players results in a "double technical", in which a technical foul is issued to both players involved. If any player leaves the team bench during a fight, he can be charged with a technical foul and ejected, as can any coach that does so without the beckoning of an official. Rules against fighting vary from high school to college to the (W)NBA, but all levels penalize severely for such conduct, to include suspensions and (in the [W]NBA) heavy fines. NFHS and NCAA require the automatic ejection of bench personnel leaving the team area during a fight, whether or not these players actually participate in the fight.

Beginning with the 2010–11 season, the NBA began to crack down on general complaining. Technical fouls can now be issued for the following: [1]


When shooting a free throw for a technical foul, only the free throw shooter, in this case Andrei Ivanov, is allowed within the area below the free throw line extended. Andrei Ivanov at free throwing for technical foul.JPG
When shooting a free throw for a technical foul, only the free throw shooter, in this case Andrei Ivanov, is allowed within the area below the free throw line extended.

In college basketball, NFHS, and lower divisions, the penalty for technical fouls has increased over the years. Initially, the opposing team was awarded one free throw. This later increased to one free throw and possession of the ball. For a while, "bench technicals" assessed on a non-active player, assistant coach, or anyone else on the team bench were considered more serious and resulted in the award of two shots. (Coaches have their own technical fouls, although they may be ejected and/or suspended if they have a mix of technicals totaling two or three fouls, depending on seriousness.)

Today, high school basketball (NFHS in the United States) provides for two free throws and possession of the ball at the division line opposite the scorer's table, regardless of circumstances, for a technical foul. International basketball provides a similar penalty. Before the 2015–16 season, college basketball awarded two shots for all technical fouls, with the ball then put in play at the point of interruption (POI), the spot and circumstances where play was stopped for the technical. Since 2015–16, the NCAA awards only one free throw for so-called "Class B" technicals, such as hanging on the rim or delay of game; "Class A" technical fouls still result in two free throws. In the (W)NBA, the penalty remains one free throw for the opposing team, with play resuming from the point of interruption. The shot clock is reset to 14 seconds if it read less than such at the time of the foul. The team awarded the foul shots for a technical may select the player(s) to shoot them (this rule differs slightly from level to level and internationally), as opposed to personal fouls, where the player fouled, unless injured, must shoot his own foul shots.

In the (W)NBA, technical fouls are split into two classes, unsportsmanlike and non-unsportsmanlike. A player assessed an unsportsmanlike technical foul is fined, and accumulating sixteen unsportsmanlike technical fouls during the regular season will result in a one-game suspension. [2] For every two technical fouls received thereafter during that regular season, the player or coach's suspension increases by one game. [2] Penalties for unsportsmanlike technical fouls are even higher for playoff games. Players and coaches will be fined for every unsportsmanlike technical foul they receive. Those who accumulate seven unsportsmanlike technical fouls will be suspended for one game. For every two unsportsmanlike technical fouls received thereafter, the player or coach's next suspension increases by one game. [3]

Non-unsportsmanlike conduct technical fouls are defined per NBA Rule 12, Section V, Paragraph c, and none count towards a fine, ejection or suspension. These fouls are assessed for excessive time-outs, defensive three seconds, scratched player dressing and playing, a player foul penalty situation, shattering backboards, or delay of game. An offensive player who intentionally hangs on the backboard, unless it is legal for safety reasons, is fined $500 but is only assessed a non-unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul. Technical fouls assessed for a player foul penalty situation caused by an offensive foul still result in one free throw.

The league can reclassify an unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul as a non-unsportsmanlike conduct technical foul after a game following review. For example, the NBA changed the technical foul by DeMarcus Cousins for clearing Jeremy Lamb’s loose shoe off the playing court in a Golden State Warriors v. Charlotte Hornets game on February 25, 2019, from unsportsmanlike to non-unsportsmanlike, rescinding the fine and the foul count, primarily over safety issues. [4]

Notable instances

One of the most famous technical fouls ever assessed was called on Chris Webber of the University of Michigan late in the 1993 NCAA championship game. Down by two points to North Carolina with only seconds remaining, Webber called a time-out when Michigan had none left. The resulting excessive time-out technical foul, for which North Carolina guard Donald Williams made both foul shots, ended any hopes Michigan had of claiming the championship.

In what has been called the greatest game ever played, [5] Game 5 of the 1976 NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and Boston Celtics, the Suns found themselves one point down with one second left in double overtime, no time-outs remaining and possession of the ball under their defensive basket after a John Havlicek bucket. Faced with the near-impossibility of sinking an 80-foot desperation shot, Suns guard Paul Westphal hit upon an unusual solution. He intentionally called a time-out the Suns did not have. While this gave the Celtics a free throw, which Jo Jo White successfully converted to increase the lead to two, it gave the Suns possession at halfcourt, and enabled Gar Heard to sink an 18-footer as time expired to force a third overtime. NBA rules were changed the following year to prevent a repeat occurrence.

An instance where many technical fouls could have been called, but were not (instead, the game was abandoned, a remedy available to the officials when too many players would have or have been disqualified or ejected for the game to continue, or when a team continually commits technical fouls in order to make a travesty of proceedings), was the Pacers–Pistons brawl involving players and spectators on November 19, 2004, in an NBA game between the Indiana Pacers and Detroit Pistons. Ron Artest of the Pacers and Ben Wallace of the Pistons began scuffling after Artest fouled Wallace hard. This escalated into a brawl where players from both teams became involved, and grew worse after Artest retreated to the scorer's table and was hit by a cup thrown by a spectator. Artest and several teammates and opponents then ran into the stands and fought with fans. Had technical fouls been formally assessed, the result would likely have been the ejection of both teams' entire squads (except for Pistons player Tayshaun Prince, who was the only player from either team to remain on the bench for the entire incident). In the end, nine players were suspended for a total of 146 games, including Artest for the remainder of the season. [6]

In a 2007 game against the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs' power forward Tim Duncan was charged a technical foul by referee Joe Crawford for laughing at him while sitting on the bench ("gesturing in such a manner as to indicate resentment," as indicated above). As he had already picked up a technical foul on the previous play, also while sitting on the bench, this led to his ejection. Upon further review it was determined that this technical foul was inconsistent with the league's game management, and NBA commissioner David Stern suspended Crawford for the rest of the season. Duncan was fined $25,000 for the incident. [7]

The most technical fouls ever charged to a team in a single professional game is 6 (all in the second half), to Aris Thessaloniki in a game against Olympiacos of the Greek A1 League on February 10, 2008.

Rasheed Wallace holds the record for the most technical fouls received during one season in the NBA. In the 2000–01 season, he received 41 technical fouls in 80 regular season and postseason games played. Wallace also holds the all-time mark for most technical fouls by a player in a career with 317, a record previously held by Dennis Rodman. [8] [9]

There have been a few instances in the NBA when a team's entire bench has either been injured or fouled out, and one of the five remaining eligible players fouls out, resulting in the technical foul that effectively acts as a bonus free throw situation. The Atlanta Hawks' Cliff Levingston (fouled out, but one of the five remaining players was ejected) and the Los Angeles Lakers' Robert Sacre (fouled out) have both taken advantage[ clarification needed ] of the disqualified player rule. Under NBA Rule 3-I-a (player fouls out) and 3-I-b (player injured or ejected), the player was assessed with a technical foul for remaining in the game or returning to the game after fouling out.

See also

Related Research Articles

Penalty (ice hockey) Punishment for breaking the rules in ice hockey

A penalty in ice hockey is a punishment for an infringement of the rules. Most penalties are enforced by sending the offending player to a penalty box for a set number of minutes. During the penalty the player may not participate in play. Penalties are called and enforced by the referee, or in some cases, the linesman. The offending team may not replace the player on the ice, leaving them short-handed as opposed to full strength. When the opposing team is said to be on a power play, they will have one more player on the ice than the short-handed team. The short-handed team is said to be "on the penalty kill" until the penalty expires and the penalized player returns to play. While standards vary somewhat between leagues, most leagues recognize several common varieties of penalties, as well as common infractions.

Free throw Penalty in basketball

In basketball, free throws or foul shots are unopposed attempts to score points by shooting from behind the free throw line, a line situated at the end of the restricted area. Free throws are generally awarded after a foul on the shooter by the opposing team, analogous to penalty shots in other team sports. Free throws are also awarded in other situations, including technical fouls, and when the fouling team has entered the bonus/penalty situation. Also depending on the situation, a player may be awarded between one and three free throws. Each successful free throw is worth one point.

Personal foul (basketball) Illegal contact with an opponent in basketball

In basketball, a personal foul is a breach of the rules that concerns illegal personal contact with an opponent. It is the most common type of foul in basketball. A player fouls out on reaching a limit on personal fouls for the game and is disqualified from participation in the remainder of the game.

In sports, a time-out or timeout is a halt in the play. This allows the coaches of either team to communicate with the team, e.g., to determine strategy or inspire morale, as well as to stop the game clock. Time-outs are usually called by coaches or players, although for some sports, TV timeouts are called to allow media to air commercial breaks. Teams usually call timeouts at strategically important points in the match, or to avoid the team being called for a delay of game-type violation, such as the five-second rule in basketball.

Rules of basketball

The rules of basketball are the rules and regulations that govern the play, officiating, equipment and procedures of basketball. While many of the basic rules are uniform throughout the world, variations do exist. Most leagues or governing bodies in North America, the most important of which are the National Basketball Association and NCAA, formulate their own rules. In addition, the Technical Commission of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) determines rules for international play; most leagues outside North America use the complete FIBA ruleset.

In basketball, a flop is an intentional fall or stagger by a player after little or no physical contact by an opposing player in order to draw a personal foul call by an official against the opponent. The move is sometimes called acting, as in "acting as if he was fouled". Because it is inherently designed to deceive the official, flopping is generally considered to be unsportsmanlike. Nonetheless, it is widely practiced and even perfected by many professional players. The player that commits the act is referred to as a flopper.

Ejection (sports)

In sports, an ejection is the removal of a participant from a contest due to a violation of the sport's rules. The exact violations that lead to an ejection vary depending upon the sport, but common causes for ejection include unsportsmanlike conduct, violent acts against another participant that are beyond the sport's generally accepted standards for such acts, abuse against officials, violations of the sport's rules that the contest official deems to be egregious, or the use of an illegal substance to better a player's game. Most sports have provisions that allow players to be ejected, and many allow for the ejection of coaches, managers, or other non-playing personnel.

Flagrant foul

In basketball, a flagrant foul is a personal foul that involves excessive or violent contact that could injure the fouled player. A flagrant foul may be unintentional or purposeful; the latter type is also called an "intentional foul" in the National Basketball Association (NBA). However, not all intentional fouls are flagrant fouls, as it is an accepted strategy to intentionally commit a foul in order to regain possession of the ball while minimizing how much time elapses on the game clock.

Glossary of basketball terms Wikipedia glossary

This glossary of basketball terms is a list of definitions of terms used in the game of basketball. Like any other major sport, basketball features its own extensive vocabulary of unique words and phrases used by players, coaches, sports journalists, commentators, and fans.

In basketball, a foul is an infraction of the rules more serious than a violation. Most fouls occur as a result of illegal personal contact with an opponent and/or unsportsmanlike behavior. Fouls can result in one or more of the following penalties:

Penalty card Reprimands issued during various sports matches

Penalty cards are used in many sports as a means of warning, reprimanding or penalising a player, coach or team official. Penalty cards are most commonly used by referees or umpires to indicate that a player has committed an offence. The official will hold the card above his or her head while looking or pointing towards the player that has committed the offence. This action makes the decision clear to all players, as well as spectators and other officials in a manner that is language-neutral. The colour or shape of the card used by the official indicates the type or seriousness of the offence and the level of punishment that is to be applied. Yellow and red cards are the most common, typically indicating, respectively, cautions and dismissals.

Unsportsmanlike conduct

Unsportsmanlike conduct is a foul or offense in many sports that violates the sport's generally accepted rules of sportsmanship and participant conduct. Examples include verbal abuse or taunting of an opponent, an excessive celebration following a scoring play, or feigning injury. The official rules of many sports include a general provision whereby participants or an entire team may be penalized or otherwise sanctioned for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Delay of game is an action in a sports game in which a player or team deliberately stalls the game, usually with the intention of using the delay to its advantage. In some sports, the delay of game is considered an infraction if it is longer than that permitted according to the game's rules, in which case a penalty can be issued. Some sports that have a delay of game penalty are American football, Canadian football, ice hockey and association football.

Official (basketball) Official who enforces the rules and maintains order in a basketball game

In basketball, an official enforces the rules and maintains order in the game. The title of official also applies to the scorers and timekeepers, as well as other personnel that have an active task in maintaining the game. Basketball is regarded as among the most difficult sports to officiate due to the speed of play, complexity of rules, the case-specific interpretations of rules, and the instantaneous decision required.

Foul (sports)

In sports, a foul is an inappropriate or unfair act by a player as deemed by a referee, usually violating the rules of the sport or game. A foul may be intentional or accidental, and often results in a penalty. Even though it may not be intentional fouling can still cause serious harm or injury to opposing players, or even their own players if unaware of their surroundings during particular situations on sports. Fouls are used in many different sports. Often own teammates can clash and foul each other by accident, such as both going for and with eyes on a ball in AFL. Strategical fouls violate the traditional norms of cooperation and agreement to the essential rules and regulations of the game, or are perhaps not part of the games at all.

Bonus (basketball)

In the sport of basketball, the bonus situation occurs when one team accumulates a requisite number of fouls, which number varies depending on the level of play. When one team has committed the requisite number of fouls, each subsequent foul results in the opposing team's taking free throws regardless of the type of foul committed. Teams under the limit are commonly referred to as having fouls to give, and thus they can try to disrupt their opponents without being penalized free throws. These fouls reset every quarter or half depending on the rules in use.

Basketball is a ball game and team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules. Since being developed by James Naismith as a non-contact game that almost anyone can play, basketball has undergone many different rule variations, eventually evolving into the NBA-style game known today. Basketball is one of the most popular and widely viewed sports in the world.

3x3 basketball Basketball variant played on half of a regulation court

3x3 basketball is a form of the game played three a side on one basketball hoop. According to an ESSEC Business School study commissioned by the International Olympic Committee, 3x3 is the largest urban team sport in the world. This basketball game format is currently being promoted and structured by FIBA, the sport's governing body. Its primary competition is an annual FIBA 3X3 World Tour, comprising a series of Masters and one Final tournament, and awarding six-figure prize money in US dollars. The FIBA 3x3 World Cups for men and women are the highest tournaments for national 3x3 teams.

The FIBA 3x3 World Cup is a 3x3 basketball tournament for national teams organized by the International Basketball Federation (FIBA). The debut of the tournament then named as the FIBA 3x3 World Championship was held in August 2012 in Athens, Greece. The current champions are United States in the men's division and China in the women's division.

Rules of water polo

The rules of water polo are the rules and regulations which cover the play, procedure, equipment and officiating of water polo. These rules are similar throughout the world, although slight variations do occur regionally and depending on the governing body. Governing bodies of water polo include FINA, the international governing organization for the rules; the NCAA, which govern the rules for collegiate matches in the United States; the NFHS, which govern the rules in high schools in the USA; and the IOC, which govern the rules at Olympic events.


  1. Abbott, Henry (September 24, 2010). "NBA expands rules on technicals". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  2. 1 2 Associated Press (April 7, 2011). "Magic's Howard, Richardson suspended". Yahoo! Sports. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
  3. Associated Press (March 30, 2011). "Dwight Howard's tech upheld by league". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  4. Letourneau, Connor (February 26, 2019). "NBA rescinds DeMarcus Cousins' technical against Hornets". San Francisco Chronicle . Retrieved February 27, 2019.
  5. Young, Bob (June 3, 2001). "SUNS: Greatest Game Ever". Arizona Republic. Turner Sports Interactive, Inc. Retrieved 2009-09-07.
  6. "NBA suspends Artest for rest of season". NBC Sports. November 22, 2004. Archived from the original on January 23, 2009. Retrieved December 20, 2008.
  7. "Crawford suspended indefinitely; Duncan fined $25K". ESPN Internet Ventures. April 18, 2007. Retrieved February 11, 2009.
  8. Forsberg, Chris (April 22, 2010). "Wallace fined $35,000 for criticizing officials". ESPN Internet Ventures. Retrieved September 21, 2010.
  9. Gervino, Tony (December 4, 2012). "Rasheed Wallace Keeps Technicals Flowing With 'Ball Don't Lie'". The New York Times . Retrieved August 8, 2013.