How Many Fouls Can a Player Get in a Basketball Game Before Fouling Out?

The personal foul limit for high school, college and International Basketball Federation games is five, while the National Basketball Association limit is set at six. A “foul out” occurs the moment a player reaches his or her foul limit. At this point, the player has to be substituted out and is disqualified for the remainder of the game.

The task of accessing a personal foul is solely left to the referees, who rely on their personal judgment when deciding whether an illegal contact placed a player at a disadvantage or advantage. Due to the nature of basketball, personal fouls are common occurrences and usually are not deemed unsportsmanlike. However, contact fouls involving unjustified or excessive contact are referred to as fragrant fouls in the NBA and at other levels and are deemed unsportsmanlike.

Each team also has a foul limit. For example, the team foul limit in the NBA is set at four fouls per quarter, or 12 minute-period. When a team exceeds their foul limit, the fouled player on the opposing team is allowed to shoot one free throw, plus an additional free throw if the first free throw is made, for a missed field goal and three free throws for a missed three-point goal. The team fouls are reset at the end of each quarter, excluding overtimes.