There are many reasons for why you would hear the whistle blow during a game. Here are 10 common fouls that can occur during the course of a game.
1. Personal Foul – just like what was mentioned in “Ball Talk”, a personal foul is when a player illegally makes contact with a player on the opposing team. These fouls can be categorized as “shooting” and “non-shooting” fouls. As the name suggests, a “shooting personal foul” is when the illegal contact is made when the opposing player is in the act of shooting, thus sending them to the line for a free-throw. A “non-shooting foul” is everything else – when the illegal contact is made anytime but not in the act of shooting. This kind of foul would result in a turn-over and ball goes to the other team.
2. Travel – this occurs when a player takes more than two steps between dribbles. Now keep in mind that there are some variation in this call due to recent changes in the “gather step” in the NBA. But to keep things simple, this is what we will go with. We'll get into details later on.
3. Double-Dribble/Carry – this call can be seen in different ways. The traditional double-dribble is when a player uses both hands to dribble. Then there’s the double-dribbling that occurs when a player stops dribbling, holds the ball in one or both hands and starts to dribble again. The latter would be considered a “carry”. You may hear either of these called but just know that they both revolve around dribbling.
4. Charge - this is a call that’s one of my favourites just because of how dramatic referees can get when making the call. A charge occurs when the player who is dribbling the ball runs into the defending player when they have already established their defensive position -- both feet are planted on the ground. The key to getting this call in the favour of the defending player is for them to be absolutely set and their body is in still position.
5. Block – this call is the opposite of charge. A blocking foul will be called if the defensive player is NOT set in their stance at the time of contact. Don’t get this confused with “blocking a shot”, that’s something different. Block and charge can be pretty subjective in terms of when they are called but regardless, the motions that referees do for these calls are very entertaining to watch.
6. Over-the-back Foul – this call is exactly what you think it is. This occurs when two players are going after a rebound (offensive or defensive) and one player reaches “over the back” of the other in order to get the rebound. The key with over-the-back is that one of the players has to cross the vertical plane of the other in order to get the rebound. A factor in this call would be the size difference between players. If the bigger player (for example Hassan Whiteside of the Miami Heat) reaches for a rebound over a smaller player (like Kyle Lowry), this would not be seen as over-the-back because there is no crossing of planes. But if Kyle were to make a play for the rebound and jump to meet the size of Whiteside, then it is likely that his body would cross planes and an over-the-back foul would be called.
7. 5 second/8 second/24 second shot clock violation – these times are in reference to 3 situations that occur when a team gets possession of the ball. When inbounding, a team has 5 seconds. If they take longer than that, then the 5 second violation is called and the ball is turned-over. If a team is able to gain possession of the ball on their end, they have 8 seconds to get the ball halfway up the court into the opposing team’s territory. The last timeline is how long a team has in order to get a shot up. A team as 24 seconds and if they run the clock before a shot is taken then the shot clock violation is called. But if a team takes a shot, hits the rim and it doesn’t go in, the clock starts again assuming the team on offense was the one to gather the rebound.
8. Goaltending/Basket Interference – This is called on a player on defence. You will see this called when a defending player interferes with the ball as it is on its way down into the basket or is right above the rim. This call is made with the assumption that the ball would have gone in should the interference had not been there.
9. Clear Path Foul – this is another call that sounds exactly like its’ name. This is called on a defending player who interferes with an opposing player who is on a fast break. The key to this foul is that there must not be a player from the defending team between the opposing player and the basket – hence the “clear path” aspect. The player on the fast-break would’ve had a clear path to the basket. Defending teams need to be careful with this foul because should this be called against their team, it would result in 2 free-throws and possession of the ball for the other team.
10. Flagrant – this is a foul that you don’t want as a player. This would be considered a pretty serious foul because of its’ potential of injuring the opposing player due to the excessive contact. There are two categories for a flagrant foul. A player can be called for a flagrant 1 foul which means there is unnecessary contact. If a player collects two flagrant 1 fouls during a game, they will be ejected. A flagrant 2 foul is when the contact is seen as unnecessary and excessive. Once a player has been called for a flagrant two foul, they are automatically ejected from the game. When a flagrant foul is handed out, the opposing team is rewarded with 2 free throws and possession of the ball. In addition to the ejections, players who get a flagrant foul will usually pay some sort of monetary fine.
Sources via here, here and here.