What is the reasoning behind the rule that during multiple free throws for personal fouls, a substitute may enter the game only before the final attempt?

3 Answers 3


Without any real evidence, my guess here is that this is just to cut down the number of interruptions in the game. Imagine the situation:

  • Referee blows a foul on a three point attempt
  • Before the first free throw, team A substitutes in a player... delay1.
  • First free throw happens.
  • Before the second free throw, team B substitutes in a couple of players... more delay.
  • Second free throw happens.
  • Before the third free throw, team A responds to team B's substitution and makes another substitution... yet more delay.

Better just to have one delay before the third shot, rather than three delays.

Note 1: admittedly a small delay in the case of professional teams, but there are a lot of free throws in the game. It's all going to add up.


It is just to make the game run faster. Why would a team need to do something during a dead-ball situation?


I think it's just so people can't "ice the shooter" like they try in football by taking timeouts before someone kicks a field goal. There's no statistical proof that delaying tactics like this work (in fact, I think they are slightly counter-productive) but people would definitely still try them. By allowing subs only before the last shot, you at least give the shooter a predictable rhythm to shoot in.

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