How Many Fouls Until You Foul Out in the NBA?

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Fouling too many times in a basketball game puts a player in foul trouble and reaching the limit results in fouling out. The maximum number of fouls in FIBA, college, and high school leagues is five, and the player leaves the game. The NBA foul-out rule has a limit of six, and you’re out of the game.

Playing under pressure makes a player great. Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain played for 14 seasons in the NBA and never fouled out in a regular or playoff game. Chamberlain was a terror in defense, but his average fouls per game were two, and the limit back then was five.

Read on to learn what foul-out means in basketball and how to avoid getting into foul trouble.

What Does Foul Out Mean in BasketballWhat Does Foul Out Mean in Basketball?

A player is slapped a foul if he commits illegal physical contact against another player or verbal abuse at opposing players and officials. The referees will call the foul, and fouls will be totaled for every player in the game.

A technical foul on a player is counted as a personal foul, and two Ts in a game result in an automatic ejection.

The penalty for a personal foul is free throws or ball possession, depending on the referee’s discretion and the team’s number of fouls.

Different leagues have their own rules regarding the foul limit of a player in a game like the NBA, WNBA, FIBA, college, and high school. A player with too many personal fouls is benched, and reaching the foul limit means they foul out and cannot enter the game.

A player nearing the foul limit is pulled out by the coach, reserving him for the all-important crunch time. The playing time of players in foul trouble is limited.

How Often Do NBA Players Foul Out HappenHow Often Do NBA Players Foul Out Happen?

How Often Do NBA Players Foul Out Happen

An NBA foul-out is rare and unlikely that many players foul out in a game. Few players foul out of games because coaches sit them when they are near the limit. Sitting a player is a strategy to preserve the player in the crucial minutes of the game, especially when the game is close. The game plan can also backfire; the player’s contribution in the early stages of the game will be missed putting the team at a disadvantage.

Football and baseball have no limit on regular fouls; basketball has six. A player’s movement becomes restricted with four or five fouls, notably on defense which makes him a liability. Coaches prevent this by substituting and saving them for the final push. However, sacrificing playing time means giving up a player’s output which might put the team in a worse position in the endgame.

Factors to consider that can result in foul trouble are the opponent, home ground, and even the referee’s call. Great players thrive under pressure and bring their A game under foul trouble until the buzzer sounds. Coaches can preserve their players, but it goes for naught when they lose the game, and the players have one or more fouls to give.

A coach should risk his best player on the court and ask teammates to cover for his lack of defense. Pull him in and out depending on the situation to keep the game close.

10 Players with the Most Fouls in NBA 2021-22 Season

Name Team Games Played Personal Fouls
Jae’Sean Tate Houston Rockets 78 286
Jaren Jackson Jr. Memphis Grizzlies 78 272
Karl-Anthony Towns Minnesota Timberwolves 74 267
Jonas Valanciunas New Orleans Pelicans 74 247
Herbert Jones New Orleans Pelicans 78 238
LaMelo Ball Charlotte Hornets 75 237
Russel Westbrook Los Angeles Lakers 78 235
Pascal Siakam Toronto Raptors 68 225
Mason Plumlee Charlotte Hornets 73 224
Jaden McDaniels Minnesota Timberwolves 70 224

What is the NBA Foul Out RuleWhat is the NBA Foul Out Rule?

What is the NBA Foul Out RuleTeams will have their eyes on the scorer in the other team and assign players to make him work hard in defense and offense. It is expected that the pressure will result in turnovers and fouls.

Reaching four or five fouls restricts a player’s movement, affecting his pace and energy, and making it difficult to build momentum. Coaches worry about this and rest the player temporarily than risk being sent off.

How Many Fouls Until You Foul Out in the NBA?

In a 40-minute basketball game, a player needs five fouls to foul out. A complete game in the NBA lasts 48 minutes, and it takes six fouls for a player to foul out. On average, a foul is allotted for every eight minutes.

The playing time in the NBA is longer; the additional one foul is for the extra eight minutes or six fouls in all for a player to hit the showers.

Types of Personal Fouls

Players cannot avoid personal fouls in a game, including illegal physical contact. The infraction can happen in offensive and defensive play but is committed mainly by defensive players.

Knowledge about personal fouls will help basketball players preserve them and only foul when needed.


A player stops the movement of another player by grabbing them. 


An offensive player wraps an arm around the defender’s body when spinning around.

Illegal screen

A screen’s purpose is to provide a barrier by standing still between your teammate and the defender. It becomes illegal and an offensive foul if any part of your body moves to block the defender.


An offensive player rams into a defender who has established position and remained stationary. 


Elbows are used to ward off another player.


Contact with the leg or foot causes the opponent to fall or lose his balance.


Over the Back

Over the back happens in a rebound play when a player jumps at his opponent’s back to get the ball.

Hand Check

The maneuver of a ball handler is disrupted by the defense’s excessive use of hands.

Foul Out Rule in Other Basketball LeagueFoul Out Rule in Other Basketball League

Coaches pull out their players in foul trouble and bench them temporarily to reserve them for the critical push. A player reaching the limit fouls out and is no longer an option.

Different leagues have their own rule about foul out.


The NBA and WNBA have a six-foul limit, and players foul out when they reach the maximum. They sit on the bench and watch the game on the sideline. A player with four or five fouls is in foul trouble and benched by the coach to stay away from committing the sixth foul.


The International Basketball Federation (FIBA) rule on foul out is five.


NCAA players need to commit five fouls to foul out.

High School

It takes five fouls for a high school basketeer to foul out.

Can Foul Be Reset in BasketballCan Foul Be Reset in Basketball?

Team fouls are reset depending on the league, but personal fouls of players are not.

Here are some fun facts about a foul-out that you might not know.

Foul Out Fun FactsFoul Out Fun Facts

Fastest Player to Foul Out

Bubba Wells earns the distinction as the fastest NBA player to foul out.

In a game between the Chicago Bulls and the Dallas Mavericks in the 1997-98 season, Mavericks coach Don Nelson was determined to take advantage of the poor free throw shooting of the Bulls’ Rodman.  Nelson sacrificed Bubba Wells to intentionally foul Rodman in every play possible to make him shoot free throws. Just like a “Hack a Shaq.”

Foul Out Fun Facts

Wells followed his coach’s instructions to the hilt and completed the mission faster than the blink of an eye in two minutes and 43 seconds. 

D. Green Fouls Out Thrice in 2021-22 Warriors Championship Run

Draymond Green is undoubtedly the main man in the Warriors’ defense and instrumental in the team’s 2021-22 NBA championship.

Green is a future Hall of Famer, TNT basketball analyst, and popular podcaster. And he fouled out thrice in the championship playoffs against the Celtics.

But Green’s last laugh was wearing his fourth championship ring in eight years with the Warriors.

How Many Times did Wilt Chamberlain Foul Out?

Wilt Chamberlain played 14 seasons in the NBA and never fouled out in a regular or playoff game. Chamberlain averaged 45.8 minutes per game, committing two fouls per game, and the foul limit was 5.

NBA Player who Fouled Out in Seven

When a player commits his sixth foul in an NBA game, he’s out of the game. Carl Bowder of the Atlanta Hawks is an exception checking out of the game on his seventh foul.

In a game on November 13, 1999, the Atlanta Hawks had a comfortable lead against the Portland Trail Blazers. The whistle blew against Bowder for his sixth foul on Blazers Jarmaine O’Neal for an and-one. 

The Blazers called a timeout with 2:52 remaining in the fourth quarter. The play resumed with Bowder joining his teammates in the game and fouled O’Neal again with 50 seconds remaining. Bowder committed his seventh foul and sat on the bench.

Wrapping Things Up: How Many Fouls Until You Foul Out in the NBA?

The NBA foul-out rule says that a player leaves the game on his sixth foul and is in trouble with four or five fouls. Coaches react by pulling the player out, saving him for the game’s crucial moments.

King James is a four-time NBA champion, a four-time NBA MVP awardee, a four-time NBA Finals MVP, a three-time All-Star MVP, and a two-time Olympic Gold medalist. King James fouled out only eight times during his illustrious career.

Great players respond well to crises and bring out their A-game until the buzzer sounds.

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

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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.

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