What Does Bonus Mean In College Basketball? | Explained


Bonus what the heck is a bonus? What does that have to do with basketball? Is that when a team scores over a hundred points in a game and everyone gets free pizza.

What does bonus mean in basketball? The term bonus in basketball means when a team reaches a certain amount of fouls, the opposing team will get to the free-throw line and shoot free-throws. This is called bonus or bonus situation. All leagues are not made equal as different leagues have different rules to the bonus from the number of team fouls needed to be in bonus to the required shots taken in bonus.  

To further break this down we will take a look at a few examples, with what a double bonus is and how each league is different while having their own set of rules with an explanation to clear up any confusion.

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Team Fouls Explained

So in order to understand how the bonus works let’s take a brief look at what team a foul is and how they are calculated. Team fouls are a total of player fouls calculated over a quarter or half and reset after each quarter/half depending on the league rules. For example, let’s say it’s the beginning of a basketball game between the Los Angeles  Lakers and the Milwaukee Bucks, LeBron James fouls and then Anthony Davis fouls that is one personal foul each and a total of two team fouls. One personal foul plus one personal foul is two team fouls. Seem simple right!

How a team enters the bonus is when the opposing team has reached a certain amount of fouls per quarter/half. Once a team has reached that amount of fouls the opposing team is now in bonus and will go to the line and shoot free throws. The fouls do not have to be a shooting foul to reach the free-throw line, being in bonus allows you to go to the free-throw line on any type of call against the defense in the act of shooting or not. Although offensive fouls do not count towards shooting in the bonus but they do count towards team fouls.

Usually, on a score clock, there is a location for the word bonus with a light underneath it or they will go by the total number of fouls on the score clock.


 NCAA Basketball Bonus Rules

College basketball has the most complicated bonus system of them all but easy to understand how the bonus works. Once a team reaches 7 fouls in a half the opposing team is now in bonus and will shoot one free-throw at the free-throw line. This is also known as one and one, a term the referees will say when they hand the shooter the ball. This also means if they make their first free throw they will shoot a second, think of it as a reward. You make the basket we give you another shot. But if they miss the first free throw shot the play continues and both teams battle for the rebound.  

A double bonus in college basketball is when a team reaches ten fouls and basically make or miss you are guaranteed two free throws in the double bonus. I really like the way the NCAA has this rule, especially at the end of the game there is more pressure to make the shot in the bonus with the potential of the team getting the ball back with no second shot awarded. It gives the other team an opportunity to come back and tie or win.


NBA Bonus

The way bonus works in the NBA is when a team reaches 6 fouls within a quarter then the opposing team will shoot two free throws, on a defensive foul shooting or non shooting. offensive fouls do not count towards the bonus and are inbound on the sideline.

If you have committed no fouls as a team up to the two-minute mark of any quarter, then you have one foul to give no matter what, then the team is in bonus. The fouls will reset after each quarter, there are no double bonus in the NBA while each quarter of play is 12-minutes in length. In overtime it resets the fouls but you now only get three fouls.

FIBA Bonus

When a team reaches 5 team fouls this is when the opposing team will be in bonus and shoot two free throws like the NBA. FIBA basketball rules are four 10 minute quarters and the fouls reset after each quarter. Again there is no double bonus. During overtime, you are immediately in bonus so in foul results in shooting two free throws.

Fouls To Give

When you hear the term “fouls to give”, this is basically saying the number of fouls left before a team enters the bonus which is also crucial during a close game that goes down to the wire.

 It is to a team’s advantage when down in the last seconds of the game to foul and get the team on the line so they can get the ball back. If you have to foul or have fouls to give and there is not a whole lot of time left then this can waste a lot of clock time in the game trying to commit the foul.



Do offensive fouls count towards bonus?

 You do not shoot free throws on offensive fouls but it does count towards the team fouls.

If I get fouled on a shot will I get to shoot four free throws in the bonus?

No, you shoot only the amount of free throws from that of the shot you have taken, so two for a midrange or layup or three from the three-point line. If you are fouled in a non-shooting foul then you would just shoot the regular two.

Do technical fouls count as team fouls?

Short answer No.


That concludes the article I hope that clears up some of the confusion of what a bonus means in basketball terms, so next time when you hear that term you can what exactly is meant by it and how it works.

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