Most players understand some of the more simple ways to get a foul called on them. That said, there are some more obscure technical requirements that have to be met to avoid fouling at times. At others, some rules just exist for the spot occurrences that need explanations or consequences. Here are some ways you may not know you can cause a foul.

Admitting to a Foul

As Nate Robinson demonstrates here, a play that can easily lend itself to a foul can land you one if you admit to having committed one. This works particularly against a player’s favor if the referee hasn’t noticed or opted not to call it then, as it requires them to make a judgment call on it. So if you’re on the brink of committing a foul, accountability won’t always work in a player’s favor.


Whether positive or negative, disruptive outbursts are up for a technical foul if the referee believes it’s worth calling out to help push play along. Yelling out or screaming during a play, free throws included, are subject to being called a tech foul, so players should aim to keep outbursts to a minimum.

Obscene Gestures

Likewise to the subjectability of outbursts to be penalized, so are any rude remarks or obscene gestures associated with any kind of similar outburst. Players should keep games civil and fluid, and inappropriate expressions aren’t conducive to productive play.


Depending on the context or situation, laughing can be subject to a tech foul. Referees are there to encourage good sportsmanship and a positive experience for everyone as much as coaches are, so anything that can be deemed a display of poor sportsmanship can get a player called out.

Hitting Another Player (With Your Body)

This can mean a lot of things, from knocking someone over with your hip while shooting to accidentally hitting your forehead into someone’s arm during a play. From subtleties to extremes, players should generally aim to keep from obstructing other players with their bodies.

Gesturing a Call

No referee is asking for a player’s opinion, usually. Players who try to gesture or say that a certain call should be made can be penalized by officiators. Anything from touching your elbow to ask for a foul or penalty to smart-mouthing the ref can get a player a foul, themselves.

Ejecting the Ball

Okay, this one may seem silly, but the ball should stay on the court at all times, whether in play or otherwise. During a game, whether professional or rec league, no player should be purposefully removing the ball from the court for any reason. Tracy McGrady famously punted a ball into the stands at one point during a game, which earned him a tech foul.

Intimidation or Indignance

An officiator’s call is final, through and through. While disagreeing with a call is fine and actually crucial to a player’s development, they should learn to keep those thoughts to themselves. They should especially know not to bring those thoughts to the attention of the referee, or worse, try to intimidate or manipulate the ref into changing the call. Keep play civil and fun, as throwing hostile energy around does nothing to encourage good gameplay.

Contact with the Referee

Similarly to the above point, at no time is touching or putting hands on the officiator an appropriate thing to do. No play or call justifies trying to make contact with the referee, and doing so can merit a technical foul or even an ejection from the game.

Inappropriate Gestures Toward Other Players

To hammer the point home, good sportsmanship and respectful conduct is crucial to positive gameplay. Players shouldn’t be purposely making improper contact with other players or coaches, and doing so can be subject to a foul should the referee deem it appropriate.