Intentional Foul – Could This Contact Be Ruled Excessive? – 4.19.3

Intentional fouls are defined using several criteria. Which criteria would you use to upgrade this to an intentional foul, or would you?

There are 5 criteria for intentional foul.  Straight from the NFHS rule book…


“They include but are not limited to:


  • Contact that neutralized an opponent’s obvious advantageous position
  • Contact away from the ball with an opponent who is clearly not involved with the play.
  • Contact that is not a legitimate attempt to play the ball/player.
  • Excessive contact with an opponent while playing the ball.
  • Contact with a thrower-in as in 9-2-10 Penalty 4.”


In watching the play in full speed, you have to consider if the contact was excessive.  You also have to know if the player was playing the ball.  We know he wasn’t playing the player.   This is when the referees go to work to determine if an upgrade is in order.  They did a great job of not immediately coming in with the intentional.  They got together to discuss the play.  It is at this point they have the opportunity to consider all of the criteria for upgrading to an intentional foul.  In this case, they determined that it was not an intentional foul, and reported the personal foul.


In their discussion, I’m sure they discussed that the player made a play on the ball, which is why they didn’t upgrade this foul.  Every discussion that I have had with another official almost always centers around only this one criteria.  Did this foul neutralize the opponent’s obvious advantageous position?  Absolutely.  Was the contact a legitimate play on the ball?  Not sure.  Was the contact excessive?  We do have an injured player.  My opinion is that this is an intentional foul and needs to be upgraded.


The next time you discuss if a foul was intentional, make the discussion about more than if the defender made a play on the ball.

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