Probably the most frustrating thing for a coach, official or a fan is to have a basketball game turn into a foul-shooting contest. When officiating, many times I thought I should renegotiate my game contract from the flat fee to a by-the-foul fee.
Fouling leads to long games, teams being able to cut into big leads or teams gaining a big lead because they are scoring when the clock is stopped.
Before we can solve this problem we must first understand why players foul excessively:
1. They make a defensive mistake guarding a player holding or dribbling the ball. Or they make a defensive mistake guarding a player without the ball. Most fouls, except hustle fouls on rebounding or a loose ball, are the result of an original defensive mistake.
2. They are frustrated. Usually this occurs after they have missed a shot, or turned the ball over.
3. They do not know how to play the ball and not the player, especially late in games.
Here’s how to correct those problems:
1. Fouling a player dribbling or holding the ball is usually the result of a player not being in the correct defensive stance. They just are not bent down low enough. They usually are not watching the correct part of the body that a player cannot use a fake. They are watching a player’s head, eyes, hips, waist, but should be watching the player’s throat because you cannot fake with the throat. If the player gets beat off the dribble then the automatic reaction is to reach out and try to steal the ball.
2. The player guarding a player who does not have the ball and who has to move over to help out on dribble penetration should move his feet to get in front of the player instead of reaching and committing a foul. Also not keeping a triangle for the ball, you, and player you are guarding is responsible for many fouls as the offensive player beats the defender on a cut and the defender tries to stop by holding, blocking or reaching. If players reach, “the refs will teach” and when I was coaching I would add “so will the coach teach by subbing for the player.”
3. Watch game films with your players so they understand why the original defensive mistake occurred that forced a foul..
4. Make players understand if they commit a frustration foul, they will be substituted for on the next dead ball.
5. Teach players what is a good foul and what is a bad foul. They must be taught how to play the ball not the man they are guarding.
There are also several drills that can teach the skills of not fouling.
The best one that I found is to have the defense play with their hands locked together behind their backs if they are guarding a player without the ball. When they are guarding a player with the ball they should have their left hand up defending the offensive player’s shooting pocket and right hand for a left-handed shooter.
When the player with the ball passes the ball to teammate, then the defender who was guarding the player with the ball immediately locks his hands behind his back as he is now guarding a player without the ball. The defender guarding the ball then switches his position, also.
When guarding a player in the low post, the defender also has hands locked behind him, but may use their hands when the ball is passed to the post, and lock again if the post player passes the ball.
The coach should stand behind the defense and if he catches a player not in the correct defensive position, then the coach should blow his whistle and have that player pay a penalty of running a lap, as a sub takes his place. The player doesn’t come back in until another player makes a mistake..
Having defensive goals of not committing more than six fouls per half is also important because teams can build big leads or cut big leads when their opponents are scoring when the clock is stopped.
It is important to tell players in certain points of a game, if they commit a foul, then they will be taken out immediately unless it is a hustle foul or a fouling the shooter so that he cannot score.
During a game, keep a foul chart on the type of foul committed and then in practices have players run three dribble-line drills for each foul in the game.
These tips and drills may help players stop fouling.