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Reducing Game Penalties
Photo of Brian Halligan

It’s rare that any sporting game be completely void of penalties or infractions of the rules. While it may be different to completely eliminate game penalties, there are ways to minimize gameday penalties. Let’s take a look at some tactics that can be used to reduce your game penalties while potentially winning more games during the season.

Two Types of Penalties

There are two types of penalties that can occur during every game: procedural penalties, which can void certain structured rules of the game like offsides, double dribbles, corked bats and things of that nature and personal foul penalties which are based more on emotions, ego and sportsmanship issues such as fighting, arguing balls and strikes, intended illegal hits and things of that nature.

Let's break them down.

Procedural Penalties

Procedural penalties are generally caused by a lapse in judgment or communication and can even be an honest mistake. While these penalties tend to depend on the judgement of the game referees, there are still ways to minimize these types of penalties.

One of the simplest things your players can do to minimize procedural penalties is practice. The more your team practices, the less likely that procedural penalties will be called on your players. You can help coach your team on mistakes they make during practice to help make them aware of the areas on which they need to work. Repetition of plays can help to prevent these types of penalties—from learning to not jump or run offsides to keeping their hands away from opposing players, practice can help to reveal your players’ most common mistakes so that you can work to avoid those same mistakes during an actual game.

Personal Fouls

Personal fouls are a breach of a rule that occurs when players make illegal contact with their opponent. Many times, these types of fouls are caused by emotions getting out hand or are sometimes the result of dirty play. In some cases, a player may even attempt to intentionally hurt or inflict pain and punishment on an opponent to eliminate them from the game.

There is never a good excuse for a personal foul. Most flagrant personal fouls are met with a severe penalty or, for more severe fouls, ejection from the game. Personal fouls also carry the most exacting penalties meted out by an official.

Even after the penalty has been called, it’s a coach’s responsibility to ensure athletes are playing by the rules. Some coaches may choose to take immediate action by making players sit out of the next few plays or even for the rest of the game in an effort to show that that there is zero tolerance for personal fouls.

Unlike procedural fouls, which can be greatly reduced through practice and reps, sometimes personal fouls may only be reduced by limiting the play of athletes who refuse to play fairly.

There is Never a Penalty when using SquadLocker

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