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Foul Lanes

What is Foul Lanes?

In the NBA, the foul lanes are represented as 2-foot wide strips bordering the outside of the key, each stretching from the foul line to the end line. During a free throw shot, players from both teams must line up in designated spots, denoted by markers, just outside of the foul lanes on both sides of the painted area.

Sporting Charts explains Foul Lanes

The two foul lanes in the NBA are painted the same as the portion of the key designated as "the paint," with white lines to designate their boundaries on either side. Extending at regular intervals perpendicular from the sides of the foul lanes are markers (usually painted as short, black lines), between which are the slots players must occupy during the shooting of a free throw. In the NBA, five players occupy these slots, three of the free throw shooter's opponents and two of his teammates. Two of the three opponents occupy the slots closest to the basket on either side, followed by the shooter's two teammates in the next available slots. Finally, the third opponent occupies on of the two slots closest to the foul line (i.e. closest to the shooter). According to free throw shot rules, all players must remain behind the border of the foul lanes until the shot has left the shooter's hands. If any player crosses any boundary into a foul lane or the painted area, it results in a lane violation.

It should be noted that the portion of the key that consists of the overall shaded or painted area is also sometimes referred to as the "foul lane."

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