What Does Bonus Mean In Basketball? Explained for Newbies

If you are new to the world of basketball, you might want to learn what terms are used in the game and what they mean. For instance,the word ‘Bonus’ in basketball means that a team has reached the maximum foul count in one quarter or half.

This enables the fouled team to hit free throws regardless of whether there was a foul or not during a shot. Other terms used to refer to bonus include ‘fouls to give’ and ‘in the bonus’

What Does Bonus Mean In Basketball

Now let us look at the meaning of this term in different leagues.

NBA Professional Basketball League

Once a team gets to the maximum number of fouls per quarter in an NBA match, the opponent team gets to shoot free throws for any foul committed against them from then on wards.

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Whenever the players commit fouls, they are counted. The most fouled team is rewarded in terms of free throws. These points are what are known as the bonus.

FIBA International Basketball League

FIBA leagues comprise trans national games, and most of the leagues played externally. The FIBA rules stipulate that, if a team commits up to five fouls within a quarter, the opponents will get free throws for the fifth and all the consequent fouls.

Opponents will earn a bonus of two free throws for all the non-shooting fouls committed by a team.As you may have realized, FIBA league fouls rules are quite similar to those of NBA.

FIBA 3×3

The FIBA 3×3 is a three-man game and it has a somewhat different penalty rule. Once a team commits more than six fouls, a penalty is prompted. Each penalty circumstance involves two penalty free throws.The tenth and consequent fouls will also include control of the ball.

NCAA College basketball league:

Bonus rules are stricter when it comes to the college leagues. During college basketball games, a maximum of six fouls are allowed for each half.

Once a team commits a non-shooting foul, it results to a reward for the opposing team in terms of two bonus points and not one, as is the case with NBA leagues.

The bonus situation also applies in American men’s college basketball.However, the NCAA rules differ from NBA bonus rules much more. The fundamental bonus rules stay the same, but the team limit for fouls is six for each half. Once on the seventh foul of the half, a team is fined and the opposing team gets at least one free throw for any loose-ball foul or defensive.

A shooter gets a second free throw if they make a free basket. This is what is referred to as the one-on-one.

In the event that a team commits ten or more fouls within a half, the opposing team will get what is known as a double bonus. What this means is that they automatically get two free throws for each foul committed subsequently.


The same bonus situations as in the NBA apply in the Women’s National Basketball Association during regulation periods. As mentioned before, all fouls for the NBA apply.

If a team commits a foul and fails to reach a penalty in the first four minutes of overtime or in the first nine minutes of a period, it is considered a team foul penalty. Usually, free throws will be taken on the second or foul in the final minute of any period, whichever comes first.

Foul counts are reset if a game goes on overtime. In the NBA, the foul limit in overtime is only three.

A Unique Rule

Just like in the NBA, a unique rule also applies. It states that while a technical foul is evaluated, the one who commits six fouls in a game when no other players are left over must remain.

If they were, the last player to commit six fouls but with no other players due to ejection or injury, they are re-called back to the game. If they commit a technical, they will have the chance to shoot a free throw.


In the basketball game, the bonus situation also known as the penalty situation happens when one team gathers a mandatory number of fouls.This number differs depending on the level of play.

Once team commits the requisite number of fouls, each consequent foul rewards the opposing team with free throws irrespective of the kind of foul committed.

If a team is under the limit, they are known as having fouls to give. This means that they can try to interrupt their opponents without being fined free throws. During each quarter, these fouls reset.

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