A situation in basketball in which a team that has committed more than four fouls within a single regulation period (quarter) or more than three within an overtime period.
Once a team is in the penalty, the opposing team is rewarded with two free throws for every subsequent foul committed. The NBA rules state that the fouls that count towards the penalty only include fouls defined as "common team fouls." This basically means that any flagrant personal fouls, technicals, or other exception fouls do not count toward the team foul total.
The team foul limit can have a large bearing on games and the overall strategy of a quarter, as teams need to be more careful and play more efficient defense when they are nearing the foul limit. Since most team fouls originate from personal fouls, often a team that is over the limit has one or more players in danger of fouling out of the game. Under rare circumstances, a team that is over the limit may commit more fouls intentionally, especially against an opposing player who may be strong on the floor but who is not a particularly good free throw shooter.
It is important to note that if a team has not reached the penalty by the final two minutes of a period, they are permitted to make one foul within that time that will not result in free throws.