Fouls are such an important part of basketball that coaches devise strategies and plays to exploit them. Getting a good player on the other side in foul trouble can be the difference between winning and losing. Coaches, fans, players and refs often disagree on just what is and isn't a foul, but the game couldn't be played without them.
The Facts on Fouls
In essence, a personal foul is any illegal contact that impedes the movement of an opposing player according to nba.com. Calling personal fouls has always been a key part of policing the game. Without them, players would be free to grab, claw, and tackle one another. Because of them, teams have to come up with intricate defenses to force foes to take difficult shots and make mistakes without fouling, according to a Basketsim.com article. In short, calling fouls makes for a safer game that focuses more on strategy than brute force.
The Cost of Fouls
Teams and players can pay a price if they pick up too many fouls. Players with more than five fouls -- six in the pros -- have to sit out the rest of a game. Once a team has seven fouls in a half, the other side gets a chance to make one free throw and a shot at a second. When that count reaches 10, the opposition gets two free throw attempts. There's also the technical foul, which typically involves some bad behavior by a player or coach. That gives the other side one or two free throws, and possession of the ball.