(REUTERS) - The National Basketball Association (NBA) approved rule changes on fouls away from the ball on Tuesday, which could help reduce intentional fouling.
Previously, if a foul occurred away from the play in the last two minutes of the fourth quarter or overtime, it resulted in one free throw and possession of the ball. That rule has been extended to apply to the last two minutes of all quarters.
Intentionally fouling poor free throw shooters has become a frequent strategy of the game, an often criticised one, and the rule tweak will limit the opportunities for teams to employ that ploy.
Frequently employed against former Lakers centre Shaquille O'Neal, the strategy went on to be known as 'Hack-a-Shaq'.
"In looking at the data and numerous potential solutions to combat the large increase in deliberate away-from-the-play foul situations, we believe these steps offer the most measured approach," Kiki VanDeWeghe, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations said in a statement.
"The introduction of these new rules is designed to curb the increase in such fouls without eliminating the strategy entirely."
Additionally, on inbounds plays, a defensive foul before the ball is thrown in will also be subject to one free throw and possession.
Flagrant foul rules were also adjusted and will now automatically be in effect for any dangerous or excessive deliberate fouls. Previously, these types of fouls were subject to being called flagrant but were not automatic.