What Is the Offensive Pushing Foul in Basketball?

Basketball players fighting for a ball

The rules of basketball at any level include provisions for determining fouls, such as the offensive pushing foul. Any personal foul, including the offensive pushing foul, involves a player making illegal contact with an opposing player while the ball is live. The National Federation of State High School Associations, commonly known as NFHS, in its "Basketball Rules Book" describes the various types of fouls. The offensive pushing foul typically involves illegal contact with the hands and arms.

Illegal Use of Hands and Arms

A player is not allowed to use her hands or arms to force her way past an opponent or push an opponent aside. It also is not legal for a player to use her hands or arms to prevent an opponent from freely moving anywhere on the basketball court. It is not legal for a player dribbling or shooting the ball to push away a defender who is attempting to steal the ball or block a shot.


Most situations in which an offensive pushing foul is called during a basketball game do not result in the opposing team shooting a free throw. This is because offensive pushing fouls typically happen when the offensive team has control of the ball. NFHS rules stipulate that a team control foul does not result in free throws. Instead, the opponent is given possession of the ball out of bounds at the spot nearest to where the offensive pushing foul occurred.

Fighting for Position

An offensive pushing foul typically involves a player using his hands or arms to create a more advantageous position against his opponent. Such fouls often occur near the basket as players try to gain the best position to go for a rebound. Another common instance of an offensive pushing foul is when a player sets a screen to free a teammate from his defender. The screener is not allowed to extend his arms in an attempt to prevent the defender from moving with the offensive player. This action results in an illegal screen.


The charging foul is a form of the offensive pushing foul that involves a player in possession of the ball. Charging occurs when the ball handler pushes or moves into the opponent’s torso. The ball handler is required to avoid contact with the defender if she has established a legal guarding position in the ball handler’s path. Furthermore, the ball handler is not allowed to use her hands or arms to push off the defender to gain an advantage to dribble, shoot or pass the ball.