What Does Bonus Mean in Basketball? Everything You Need to Know


If you’re an avid basketball fan, you probably know that defensive fouls are a big part of the game.

Despite being a common sight on the court, the rules penalise teams when they accumulate one too many of them by awarding the opposing team with a ‘bonus’.

But, what does bonus mean in basketball?

We answer that and more.

How Do The Basketball Bonus Rules Work?

In basketball, a bonus is awarded when one team exceeds a set number of defensive fouls in a quarter/half.

This bonus comes in the form of two free throws.

Once a team reaches the allowable number of fouls, every other defensive foul after that results in a bonus for the opposing team, regardless of whether it was intentional or not. How many fouls for bonus are allowed depends on the league.

Teams that have not reached the limit are usually referred to as having fouls to give because they have enough fouls left to disrupt their opponents without being penalised.

What Does Bonus Mean in NBA?

In the NBA, where the average salary is around $7.5 million, and WNBA, bonus rules start applying with the fifth team foul

If the team hasn’t committed defensive fouls to trigger the penalty phase in the first 10 or 8 minutes (NBA and WNBA respectively), every second foul in the last two minutes of that period will result in a bonus situation for the opposing team.

When the game enters overtime, the foul count is reset.

What Does Bonus Mean in FIBA?

FIBA allows teams to commit up to four defensive fouls, without awarding the other team a bonus (two free throws), in a quarter, with team fouls accruing from the fourth period on.

The fifth and every subsequent defensive foul incur a penalty throw.

You may be interested in: Best young players to watch in the NBA

What fouls do not count?

Offensive fouls do not count toward the foul count in FIBA, the NBA, or the WNBA. The NBA and WNBA, unlike FIBA, count loose-ball fouls too.

Why Do We Need the Bonus in Basketball?

The bonus situation exists in basketball to discourage players from excessive fouling.

But, it can also serve as an excellent strategy for teams that know how to use it.

For example, they can take advantage of the bonus rules and prevent a play from a team that would find it harder to score a point from the free throw line.

Related: How long is halftime in the NBA?

How Long Does the Bonus Last In Basketball?

The bonus situation in basketball does not have a time limit

Depending on the league, it applies after a set number of defensive (or other fouls), usually in a quarter.

Every other foul that qualifies triggers a free throw for the opposing team. 

This means that if a team commits more than the allowable number of fouls early on, they will practically give away free throws to the other team for the rest of the quarter.

Bottom Line

What is a bonus in basketball? A bonus in basketball is a type of penalty where a team gets free throws after the other team commits too many defensive fouls. 

However, as we’ve mentioned above, different leagues have different rules.


What does bonus mean in college basketball?

In college basketball (and the NCAA tournament which has been held for over 8 decades) a team enters a bonus penalty situation when the opposing team reaches 7-9 fouls in a half.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *