What Does Double Bonus Mean in Basketball?

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we get a commission if you make a purchase through our links, at no cost to you.

Spread the love


The NCAA and High School leagues apply the double bonus penalty in games. What does double bonus mean in basketball?

Teams committing their seventh to ninth foul enters the one-and-one penalty; fouled players need to make good their first charity shot before earning a second. Once a team commits their tenth foul, they are in a double bonus situation. All fouls result in two gift shots, regardless of whether the first shot was good.

Read on and gain an insight into the meaning of bonus in basketball.

What Does the Word Bonus Mean in BasketballWhat Does the Word Bonus Mean in Basketball?

You were watching a basketball game, and during the heated match, there was a lull. A player goes to the free-throw line after a foul, and he wasn’t in the act of shooting.

Usually, free throws are awarded to players fouled by defenders when attempting a shot. However, there are other ways of getting into the charity stripe. A bonus can be awarded to a fouled player resulting to free throws, even if it’s a non-shooting foul.

Defensive fouls are part of the strategies in the game. Defensive fouls are a way to limit the opponents from scoring and putting pressure on the ball handler for steals or turnovers.

They enter the bonus structure if a team goes beyond the allowed number of fouls in a timeframe. The other team is awarded a free throw for every foul beyond the limit. The application of the bonus rule varies depending on the league.


FIBA (International Basketball Federation) rules apply in international play. The FIBA bonus penalty begins after the fifth defensive foul per quarter, and opponents are awarded a pair of free throws.

Overtime periods have been deemed an extension of the fourth quarter. Team fouls in overtime will be combined with the team fouls in the fourth quarter.

What Does the Word Bonus Mean in Basketball


In the NBA, a team is awarded two gift shots on the defensive team’s fifth foul. What’s more, a unique bonus rule applies when a team commits two defensive fouls in the last two minutes of a quarter the opponent gets two foul throws.

A team with three fouls in the first three minutes can give a non-shooting foul effecting an inbound from the sideline by the offensive team. In extra sessions, team fouls are readjusted to zero. The bonus rule comes into play when a team commits four defensive fouls in overtime, and the other team is awarded two free throws.


College basketball’s bonus rules differ from the other leagues like the NBA and FIBA. The games are split into two halves instead of four quarters. The NBA allows two gift shots on the team’s fifth defensive foul and FIBA on the sixth. 

In the NCAA, the bonus is awarded on the seventh foul in a half, and one-and-one is in play. A player is given a free throw. If he makes it, the shooter will be awarded another. The ball is up for grabs by any rebounder in case of a miss.

NCAA ladies’ basketball differs; they play four 10-minute quarters instead of two 20-minute halves. Teams are allowed five fouls in a quarter; after that, a double bonus, two free throws, will be given instead of a one-and-one.

High School

Bonus plays for high school hoopsters are the same as their collegiate counterparts. A one-and-one applies on the seventh foul, and an excellent first attempt merits a second. If the shooter misses the first gift shot, the ball is considered in play, and he does not have a second.

What Does Double Bonus MeanWhat Does Double Bonus Mean?

A double bonus is applied in the amateur leagues like college and high school basketball. From the seventh to the ninth foul in a half, the opposing team is a recipient of a one-and-one free throw situation. From the tenth foul onwards, the double bonus kicks in, giving two free throws to the other team.

Free throws

What Does Double Bonus MeanThe opposing team automatically gets two free throws every time a team in double bonus commits a foul. Unlike in the one-and-one, the fouled player gets two chances to earn points from the foul line even if he misses the first.

Does the Double Bonus Adjust?

Once the first half ends, teams start with zero fouls in the second half, and no teams will be in the double bonus situation. However, fouls do not reset in overtime; a team with a double bonus penalty in the second half will stay in the extension period.

What Fouls are Considered to the Double Bonus?

Defensive and technical fouls count as team fouls, and offensive fouls do not. A team reaching ten or more fouls in a half gets in the double bonus penalty situation.

Fouling in the Double Bonus

Teams trailing in a game can use fouling as a strategy to stop the clock or put a poor free throw shooter on the foul line. It puts pressure on the opponent and gives opportunities to gain possession and score in a short amount of time.

WNCAA Double Bonus

The NCAA women’s basketball oversight panel adopted the four 10-minute quarters in 2015-16, veering from the two twenty-minute halves. Along with the new format, the double bonus comes into play instead of the one-and-one penalty.

A WNCAA team committing five fouls in a quarter allows the other team to earn two points from the charity stripe. During extension periods, a team in a penalty situation in the fourth quarter would remain in the bonus penalty.

When Do You Get a Bonus in BasketballWhen Do You Get a Bonus in Basketball?

When a team reaches its team foul limit, the bonus penalty situation applies, and the other team gets to shoot free throws. Leagues have different rules regarding the team foul limit and the number of free throw awards during regulation time.

When Do You Get a Bonus in Basketball

League Foul Limit Bonus Double Bonus
FIBA Five per quarter Two free throws

Last two minutes

Four per quarter

One per quarter

Two free throws

Two free throws

NCAA Six per half

Nine per half

One-and-one Two free throws
WNCAA Four per quarter Two free throws
High School Six per half

Nine per half

One-and-one Two free throw

What is the Difference Between a Bonus and a Double Bonus in BasketballWhat is the Difference Between a Bonus and a Double Bonus in Basketball?

The application of the bonus penalty differs depending on the league.

Professional leagues like the NBA and WNBA have a four-team foul limit per quarter; beyond that, the fouled player is awarded two gift shots.

FIBA allows five team fouls per quarter before two free throws are given.

NCAA teams are allowed six team fouls, and anything in excess results in a one-and-one with the other team. Women’s NCAA adopted the four-team fouls regulation, and the other team shoots two free throws on the fifth foul. The same bonus penalty rule applies to high school games.

A double bonus penalty applies to NCAA and high school basketball games. A team reaching ten fouls in a half is in the double bonus; succeeding fouls result in two gift shots for the opposing team. Two free throws are awarded to the other team for any fouls committed. If the team is in the double bonus after the regulation time, this will stay in the extension period.

Is the Bonus Penalty Essential in BasketballIs the Bonus Penalty Essential in Basketball?

You might be wondering if penalty free throws are critical in the sport of basketball. You believe that the bonus penalty slows down the game because of gift shots awarded to the fouled party, and it takes more time to complete a game. It’s true, but there are reasons for creating a double bonus play, and all are important.

Is the Bonus Penalty Essential in Basketball

Fair Play

Sans the penalty rules, teams will commit non-shooting fouls since they won’t be penalized for doing so. The fouled player will inbound the ball to restart their possession, and the same action is repeated until the time expires. It removes the excitement of the game.

This rule discourages a team from running down the clock by fouling strategically. Any foul after a team reaches the foul limit results in gift shots. The rule allows a catch-up team to shave some points and stop the clock. The bonus penalty creates fair play keeping the game from getting boring.

Game Strategy

Intelligent coaches and basketball players can use the bonus penalty as a game changer depending on the situation.

A team with fouls to give can crank up the defensive intensity. The play can be more physical on the defensive end creating turnovers and scoring opportunities.

If the defensive team is in the double bonus penalty, the other team can put in their best free throw shooters for a better percentage and take advantage of the situation.

A game strategy can use the double bonus to foul a poor free throw shooter. The Hack-a-Shaq strategy was used by trailing teams in the NBA against center Shaquille O’Neil.

Does NBA Have a Double Bonus RuleDoes NBA Have a Double Bonus Rule?

There is no NBA double bonus rule.

A team with four fouls in a quarter enters the bonus situation; any foul afterward results in two free throws for the other team. In the last two minutes of any quarter, bonus shots are awarded on the second foul. The team fouls are reset to zero at the start of any quarter.

During overtime, a 5-minute extension, a team committing four fouls results in two free throws to the other team. Bonus shots are awarded when a team commits two fouls in the last two minutes. A team with three fouls in the first three minutes of play can commit a non-shooting foul resulting in an in-bound play with no free attempts.

Wrapping Things Up: What Does Double Bonus Mean in Basketball?

The NBA, WNBA, FIBA, NCAA, WNCA, and High schools have the same concept of bonus penalty situation. But the application for NCAA and High School games varies – they apply a double bonus penalty.

What does double bonus mean in basketball?

A team committing seven to nine fouls in a half enters the one-and-one penalty; a fouled player needs to make the first shot at earning a second. The team is in a double bonus situation on the tenth foul, and fouls result in two free throws.

Bonus shots is an excellent way to earn points, defensive teams should play smart when fouling the other team.

We hope you enjoyed this post! If you did, be sure to check out our other basketball FAQ articles here.

Hoops Addict
Hoops Addict

Hoops Addict was created to help basketball fans of all ages learn more about the sport and find the best basketball gear to improve their ability to hoop. He has been a huge basketball fan for decades, watching thousands of basketball games through the years to learn the ins and outs of the game.

If you found this helpful, help us out by sharing this post!


Readers of this post also read...

How is the NBA All-Star Team Selected

How is the NBA All-Star Team Selected?

Getting into the All-Star game is no simple feat. For some players, it may take several seasons of high-level play to get the nod. However, other exceptional talents come into the league with so much...

Read More
What Does DTD Mean in Basketball?

What Does DTD Mean in Basketball?

Basketball is a world of its own with unique terms or jargon, in and out of the court. Through the years, more terms have been developed to represent specific things about the sport, and understanding...

Read More

Get our top basketball tips to become a better baller

Enter your email to get access to our best tips for success.