Managing a Players Personal Fouls during a Game
Fouls and fouling are part of the game of basketball. Nearly every player participating in a game for any substantial period will commit a foul at one time or another. Sometimes these calls go with you and sometimes they go against you. However, it would be more unusual than not, for a player to have committed a foul then not committing any throughout a basketball game. If a player does not acquire a foul during a game of basketball it is probably because they have not taken an active enough part in the tactics of a game, especially on the defensive end of the floor.
A player who fouls is sometimes seen as a problem for their coaches. These players can often be subjected to a reduction in playing time that affects their confidence and involvement within the game. The important perspective for a coach who has a player with a fouling problem is to identify when this is occurring and try to educate their player about how to manage or avoid these situations. Many good defenders started out as players who committed fouls heavily during their younger years of basketball participation.
The Golden Rule when focusing on the Personal Fouls of players is to try and keep any individuals foul count at equal to, or less then the quarter of the game. For example, a player in the second quarter of a game should not have more fouls then two.
There are of course exceptions to the rule. The higher a player’s basketball intelligence and defensive awareness, the better the chances are that they can play with a higher foul count and not foul out. This however will come from becoming familiar with the temperament and style of play an individual possess or takes part within.
Too many times however a coach leaves their star player on the court early in a game when the player has committed a significant amount of Personal Fouls. This player then picks up another foul or even foul out. It is far better that a coach changes tactics or the speed of the game to try and reduce the opportunity form this player leaving the court to have an adverse effect on the game over an extended period.
Even when a player’s Personal Fouls are outside the guidelines mention above. No individual should be kept off the court for a whole quarter. This only leads to a player becoming frustrated, cold and losing their contact with the feel or flow of the game. Even if the player in foul trouble hits the floor as part of the second rotation within a position or to cover the closing minutes of a quarter an effective coach must be aware of this need to weave the player into the game.
As the game progresses into the final quarter a players Personal Fouls count become less significant due to the reduced amount of time left to play. In this scenario, many coaches fall victim to keeping their key players off the court in the final quarter for too long a period. Then only putting these players back on the court in a low percentage situation from which to win the game or gain a positive outcome. This type of situation needs to be managed on a case by case basis, but you can lose a game just as easily in the last seven minutes, just as much as the last second of a game.
There are a few ways to help manage an individual with a high count of personal fouls. As most fouls happen on defence one option is to simply rotate this individual onto a less aggressive offensive player. Another option might be to change the type of defence being employed or the player’s position with a defence. For example if a player is in foul trouble, a coach might as the team to implement a Zone Defence so that the player does not have to match-up on a man-to-man basis. This player can then be rotated into the bottom of the Zone Defence to limit the players overall contact with offensive players in the first instance.
There are many different strategies to help minimise a players fouling trouble. A coach should be very active in staying aware of the foul count for each individual either through their own monitoring of the situation, or allocating this role to a support staff member.