On the afternoon of 31 July 2016, I was playing basketball with my friends. A guy who was defending me shouted when I was shooting. I was frightened, so I missed the shot.

My question: Is shouting when another player is trying to shoot a foul in basketball rules?


4 Answers 4


According to the basic rules of the FIBA (as you did not state a ruleset to reference), Article 34.1.1 states:

A personal foul occurs when there is illegal contact between two opponents.

Shouting is not "illegal contact."

However, Article 32.1.1 states:

A foul is an infraction of the rules concerning illegal personal contact with an opponent and/or unsportsmanlike behaviour.

If the shouting is considered "unsportsmanlike behavior," it will be called as a foul.

Shouting, in itself, is not a foul.

This may be a technical foul under the following:

  • Article 36.1.2-4:

Each team shall do its best to secure victory, but this must be done in the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play.

Any deliberate or repeated non-cooperation or non-compliance with the spirit and intent of this rule shall be considered as a technical foul.

The official may prevent technical fouls by giving warnings or even overlooking minor infractions which are obviously unintentional and have no direct effect upon the game, unless there is repetition of the same infraction after the warning.

  • Article 36.3.1:

A technical foul is a player non-contact foul of a behavioural nature including, but not limited to:

  • Baiting an opponent

For pickup basketball games at the local park, I doubt technical fouls are dealt with and I have never experienced a case in which shouting during a shot was considered a foul.

  • 2
    While it may not be a personal foul, I feel there's a case for it to be a technical foul; 36.1.2: "Each team shall do its best to secure victory, but this must be done in the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play".
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 14:21
  • 1
    @PhilipKendall This could fall under 36.3.1 under "baiting an opponent." As far as a pickup basketball game at the local park, I doubt technical fouls are dealt with."
    – user527
    Commented Aug 1, 2016 at 14:27
  • 1
    How about just plain old unsportsmanlike conduct?
    – Joe
    Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 3:35
  • 2
    @Joe - It's not under unsportsmanlike contact. It's on the offensive player to maintain focus despite distraction, not on the defensive player to make sure he isn't a distraction. Defenders are able to do anything reasonable within the rules to distract. Clapping, yelling, etc. it's all part of the game lol.
    – A D
    Commented May 6, 2017 at 7:10

I used the 2016-17 NBA and NCAA (click download PDF) rulebooks, and the 2012-13 Iowa HSAA rulebook (apparently the NFHS rulebook is now pay protected????)

The closest definitive rule in American rulebooks appears to be on "disconcerting" during free throws. The NCAA and NFHS rulebooks only mention the term, but the NBA goes on to detail it:

9.I.f: During all free throw attempts, no opponent in the game shall disconcert the shooter once the ball is placed at his disposal. The following are acts of disconcertion:
(1) Raising his arms when positioned on the lane line on a free throw which will not remain in play,
(2) Waving his arms or making a sudden movement when in the visual field of the shooter during any free throw attempt,
(3) Talking to the free throw shooter or talking in a loud disruptive manner during any free throw attempt.
(4) Entering the lane and continuing to move during any free throw attempt.

For completeness,

NCAA 9-1-f: After the ball is placed at the disposal of a free-thrower it is a violation when:
An opponent disconcerts (e.g., taunt, bait, gesture or delay) the free-thrower.

Iowa 9-1-3-c: No opponent shall disconcert the free thrower.

But that's only free throws. As to shooting itself... funny enough, there's more clarity on another form of distraction that is often uncalled or not known about:

NCAA: 10-4-a: A technical foul shall be assessed to a player or a substitute for purposely obstructing an opponent’s vision by waving or placing hand(s) near his eyes.

And similarly:

NBA: 12A-V-m: Eye guarding (placing a hand in front of the opponent’s eyes when guarding from the rear) a player who does not have possession of the ball is illegal and an unsportsmanlike technical shall be assessed.

Iowa 10-3-6-d: Purposely obstructing an opponent’s vision by waving or placing hand(s) near his/her eyes. NOTE: Purposely diverting an opponent’s attention by waving is different than holding or waving the hands near the opponent’s eyes for the express purpose of obstructing the vision so that he/she cannot see.

But while there is no rule or any mention of yelling in the book, there is some leeway built into all three rulebooks:

NBA: 12.V: Conduct a. An official may assess a technical foul, without prior warning, at any time. A technical foul(s) may be assessed to any player on the court or anyone seated on the bench for conduct which, in the opinion of an official, is detrimental to the game. The technical foul must be charged to an individual. A technical foul cannot be assessed for physical contact when the ball is alive

NCAA: 10-3-1: A player or substitute committing an unsportsmanlike act including, but not limited to...

NHFS: 10-3-6: A player shall not commit an unsporting foul. This includes, but is not limited to... (An unsporting foul is a noncontact technical foul which consists of unfair, unethical, dishonorable conduct or any behavior not in accordance with the spirit of fair play.)

Reading some threads on officiating message boards, these sportsmanship grey areas (and a couple separate rules) have been used by some to make calls (even one mention by a FIBA referee)... but it's certainly is debated heavily. Even what counts as disconcertion on free throws gets plenty of argument. Here are some of the better threads: 1 2 3. Others devolved more significantly.

Unfortunately I don't think you're going to find a truly definitive answer. Which is a pity. Games often evolve into what they aren't supposed to be (as do many things in life). And definitive rules to prevent that can be tough to delineate.


Haha. No, it's definitely not a foul - especially if it's street / pickup ball. It's not a foul in the NBA either. You see bench players do this sometimes when the opponent's about to shoot.

A technical foul from shouting could happen in the NBA, but it'd have be something over-the-top, like disrespecting a ref or too much taunting of a player, etc.

Basically, he saw you as someone who could get easily distracted, and he was right. Don't ever listen to someone that says basketball isn't a mental game. A HUGE part of basketball is composure, calmness under pressure, and sharp focus. Seems like that should be something you should work on and it comes mostly from experience and improving your skill competency. That way, you could hit that shot no matter if they clap, yell, or what have you to try to distract you. It makes hitting the shot that more satisfying.


Being FIBA referee, our instructions are clear that for first sign of shouting or no sportsmanship behavior player will be warn, after that will get technical foul.

  • 2
    Could you provide a reference to (and ideally a quote from) the rules, guidance etc that you are basing this answer on?
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 8:58
  • A reference from the rulebook would indeed help since it's a rules question. Despite that, it certainly is useful if indeed you are a FIBA referee, as you would have personal experience which few can offer as to what rules mandates and instructions you are given and such. It may help credibility and understanding if you indicated what levels you have officiated. Commented Jul 31, 2018 at 15:22

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