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Metro Youth Basketball

Misunderstood Rules

By Nejuan Thompson, 10/19/18, 11:30AM PDT


Basketball Rules


BASKET INTERFERENCE – A player cannot touch the ball, ring, or net while the ball is on the ring or within the basket. A player cannot touch the ball if it is in the imaginary cylinder above the ring. These are examples of basket interference. It is legal to touch the ring or the net if the ball is above the ring and not touching the ring, even if the ball is in the imaginary cylinder above the ring. It is legal to hang on the ring if a player is avoiding an injury to himself or herself or another player.

GOALTENDING – The backboard has nothing to do with goaltending. Goaltending is when a player touches the ball during a try, or tap, while it is in its downward flight, entirely above the basket ring level, outside the imaginary cylinder above the ring, and has the possibility of entering the basket. On most layups, the ball is going up immediately after it contacts the backboard. It is legal to pin the ball against the backboard if it still on the way up, and is not in the imaginary cylinder above the basket. Slapping the backboard is neither basket interference, nor is it goaltending, and points cannot be awarded. A player who strikes a backboard, during a tap, or a try, so forcefully that it cannot be ignored because it is an attempt to draw attention to the player, or a means of venting frustration, may be assessed a technical foul. When a player simply attempts to block a shot, and accidentally slaps the backboard, it is neither a violation, nor is it a technical foul.

THE BACKBOARD – The front, top, sides, and bottom of the backboard are all in play. The ball cannot legally pass over a rectangular backboard from either direction. The back of a backboard is out of bounds, as well as the supporting structures.

TRAVELING – The traveling rule is one of the most misunderstood rules in basketball. To start a dribble, the ball must be released before the pivot foot is lifted. On a pass, or a shot, the pivot foot may be lifted, but may not return to the floor before the ball is released. A player may slide on the floor while trying to secure a loose ball until that player’s momentum stops. At that point that player cannot attempt to get up, or rollover. A player securing a ball while on the floor cannot attempt to stand up unless that player starts a dribble. A player in this situation may also pass, shoot, or request a timeout. If the player is flat on his, or her, back, that player may sit up without violating.

TRAVELING – A player must be holding the ball (with one very rare exception) in order to travel. A player can’t travel while dribbling, while tapping the ball, while fumbling it, or while trying to recover a loose ball. During a fumble the player is not in control of the ball, and therefore, cannot be called for a traveling violation. A fumble is the accidental loss of player control when the ball is unintentionally dropped, or slips from a player’s grasp. After a player has ended a dribble and fumbled the ball, that player may recover the ball without violating. Any steps taken during the recovery of a fumble are not traveling, regardless of how far the ball goes, and the amount of advantage that is gained. It is always legal to recover a fumble, even at the end of a dribble, however that player cannot begin a new dribble, which would be an illegal dribble violation. A player who fumbles the ball when receiving a pass may legally start a dribble.

TRAVELING – The shooter can retrieve his or her own airball, if the referee considers it to be a shot attempt. The release ends team control. It is not a violation for that player to start another dribble at that point. When an airborne player keeps control of an attempted shot that is blocked, is unable to release the ball, and returns to the floor with it, that player has not traveled; it is a held ball. If, in this situation, the shooter loses control of the ball because of the block, then this is simply a blocked shot, and play continues. If, in this situation, the defender simply touches the ball, and the airborne shooter returns to the floor holding the ball, it’s a traveling violation. When an airborne player tries for goal, sees that the try will be blocked, purposely drops the ball, and touches the ball after it hits the floor, that player has traveled by starting a dribble with the pivot foot off the floor.

CARRYING THE BALL – Palming, or carrying, is when the ball comes to rest in the player’s hand, and the player either travels with the ball, or dribbles a second time. There is no restriction as to how high a player may bounce the ball, provided the ball does not come to rest in a player’s hand. Steps taken during a dribble are not traveling, including several that are sometimes taken when a high dribble takes place. It is not possible for a player to travel during a dribble.

THROW-IN – A player inbounding the ball may step on, but not over the line. During a designated spot throwin, the player inbounding the ball must keep one foot on, or over, the three-foot wide designated spot. An inbounding player is allowed to jump, or move one or both feet. A player inbounding the ball may move backward as far as the five-second time limit, or space allows. If player moves outside the three-foot wide designated spot, it is a throwin violation, not traveling. In gymnasiums with limited space outside the sidelines, and endlines, a defensive player may be asked to step back no more than three feet. A player inbounding the ball may “dribble” the ball on the out-of-bounds area prior to making a throwin. After a goal, or awarded goal, the team not credited with the score shall make the throw-in from any point outside the end line. A team retains this “run the endline” privilege if a timeout is called during the dead ball period after the goal. After a goal, or awarded goal, any player of the team may make a direct throw-in, or may pass the ball along the end line to a teammate outside the boundary line.

THROW-IN – The defender may not break the boundary plane during a throwin until the ball has been released on a throw-in pass. If the defender breaks the boundary plane during a throwin before the ball has been released on a throw-in pass, the defender’s team will receive a team delay warning, or if the team has already been warned for one of the four delay situations, this action would result in a team technical foul. If the defender contacts the ball after breaking the boundary plane, it is a player technical foul and a team delay warning will be recorded. If the defender breaks the boundary plane, and fouls the inbounding player, it is an intentional personal foul, and a team delay warning will be recorded. It is an intentional personal foul if the defender fouls the inbounding player, even without breaking the boundary plane, however, in this specific case, there is no delay of game warning because the defender did not break the boundary plane.

THROW-IN – The inbounding player does not have a plane restriction, but has five seconds to release the ball, and it must come directly onto the court. The ball can always be passed into the backcourt during a throwin. This situation is not a backcourt violation.

OUT-OF-BOUNDS – If a player’s momentum carries the player off the court, that player can be the first player to touch the ball after returning inbounds. That player must not have left the court voluntarily, and must immediately return inbounds. That player must have something in, and nothing out. It is not necessary to have both feet back inbounds. It is a violation for a player to intentionally leave the court for an unauthorized reason.

THROW-IN SPOT – After a violation, the ball is awarded to the opponents for a throwin from an out of bounds spot nearest the violation. This is especially true for a backcourt violation, where the ball may not necessarily be put in play at the division line, but, rather, is always put back in play at the spot nearest the violation.

SCREENS – A moving screen is not in and of itself a foul; illegal contact must occur for a foul to be called. If a blind screen is set on a stationary defender, the defender must be given one normal step to change direction, and attempt to avoid contact. If a screen is set on a moving defender, the defender gets a minimum of one step, and a maximum of two steps, depending on the speed, and distance, of the defender.

CONTACT – It is legal use of hands to accidentally hit the hand of the opponent when it is in contact with the ball. This includes holding, dribbling, passing, or even during a shot attempt. Striking a ball handler, or a shooter, on that player’s hand that is incidental to an attempt to play the ball is not a foul.

“REACHING IN” – Reaching in is not a foul. There must be illegal contact to have a foul. The mere act of reaching in is, by itself, nothing. If illegal contact does occur, it’s probably a holding foul, an illegal use of hands foul, or a hand check foul. When a player, in order to stop the clock, does not make a legitimate play for the ball, holds, pushes, or grabs away from the ball, or uses undue roughness, the foul is an intentional foul.

“OVER THE BACK” – Over the back is not a foul. There must be illegal contact to have a foul. A taller player may often be able to get a rebound over a shorter player, even if the shorter player has good rebounding position. If the shorter player is displaced, then a pushing foul must be called. A rebounding player, with an inside position, while boxing out, is not allowed to push back, or displace, an opponent, which is a pushing foul.

CHARGE – A defensive player does not have to remain stationary to take a charge. A defender may turn away, or duck, to absorb contact, provided the defender has already established legal guarding position, which is both feet on the playing court, and facing the opponent. The defender can always move backwards, or sideways, to maintain a legal guarding position, and may even have one or both feet off the floor when contact occurs. That player may legally rise vertically. If the defender is moving forward, then the contact is caused by the defender, which is a blocking foul.

INCIDENTAL CONTACT – The mere fact that contact occurs does not constitute a foul. Incidental contact is contact with an opponent which is permitted and does not constitute a foul. Contact, which occurs unintentionally in an effort by an opponent to reach a loose ball, or contact which may result when opponents are in equally favorable positions to perform normal defensive, or offensive moves, should not be considered illegal, even though the contact may be severe. Contact which does not hinder an opponent from participating in normal defensive, or offensive, movements should be considered incidental.

TEN SECONDS – A ten-second count continues when the defense deflects, or bats, the ball in the backcourt. When a dribbler is advancing the ball into the frontcourt, the ball maintains backcourt status until both feet, and the ball, touch entirely in the frontcourt.

OVER-AND-BACK – During a throwin, even under a team’s own basket, if the throwin is deflected, tipped, or batted, by an offensive player in the frontcourt to an offensive player in the backcourt; or after a missed field goal attempt, or a missed foul shot attempt, if the ball is deflected, tipped, or batted, by an offensive player in the frontcourt to an offensive player in the backcourt; these are not a backcourt violations.

OVER-AND-BACK – During a throwin, or jump ball, any player; or a defensive player, in making a steal; may legally jump from his, or her, frontcourt, secure control of the ball with both feet off the floor, and return to the floor with one, or both, feet in the backcourt. The player may make a normal landing, and it makes no difference whether the first foot down is in the frontcourt, or the backcourt. These three situations are not backcourt violations.

CLOSELY GUARDED – The closely guarded rule is in effect in frontcourt only, when a defender is within six feet of the ball handler. Up to three separate five-second counts may occur on the same ball handler: holding, dribbling, and holding. The count continues even if defenders switch. The five-second count ends when a dribbler gets his, or her, head, and shoulders, ahead of the defender.

THREE SECONDS – The intent of the three-second rule is to not allow an offensive player in the lane to gain an advantage. There is no three-second count between the release of a shot, and the control of a rebound, at which time a new count starts. There is no three-second count during a throwin. There is no three-second count while the ball is in the backcourt. There is a three-second count during an interrupted dribble. There is a three-second count while an offensive player has one foot in the lane, and one foot outside of the lane, and the three-second count continues if this player lifts the foot in the lane so that neither foot is touching inside the lane. To stop the count this player must have both feet touch the court outside of the lane. It’s a violation for a player to step out of bounds in an attempt to avoid a three second violation. Allowance shall be made for a player who, having been in the restricted area for less than three seconds, dribbles in, or moves immediately to try for goal.

TIMEOUT – The head coach may request, and be granted, a timeout if his, or her, player is holding, or dribbling, the ball; or during a dead ball period. A player saving the ball in the air can ask for, and be granted, a timeout even if that player is going out of bounds. The key is whether, or not, the player has control of the ball.

FREE THROW – On free throws, there is a maximum of two offensive players, and four defensive players, in the six marked lane spaces. The defense must be in the first marked lane spaces, above the neutral zone marks, on all free throws. The offense must not occupy the first marked lane spaces, above the neutral zone marks. For free throws when there are no rebounders in the marked lane spaces, i.e. technical fouls, and intentional fouls, the nine nonshooters shall remain behind the free throw line extended, and behind the three point arc.

FREE THROW – Players in marked lane spaces must not move into the lane until the ball is released by the free-throw shooter. The shooter, and the players behind the three point arc, must wait until the ball hits the rim, or the backboard, before entering the lane, or penetrating the three point arc. On release of the ball by the free thrower, the defender boxing out the free thrower shall not cross the free-throw line until the ball contacts the ring, or the backboard. In addition, the free throw shooter must cause the ball to enter the basket, or touch the ring, before the free throw ends. During a free throw, no opponent, including bench personnel, may disconcert the free thrower.

HELD BALL – A held ball occurs when opponents have their hands so firmly on the ball that control cannot be obtained without undue roughness. Action of arms, and elbows, resulting from total body movements as in pivoting or moving to prevent a held ball, or loss of control, shall not be considered excessive. It is a violation for a player to excessively swing his, or her, arms, or elbows, even without contacting an opponent.

KICKING THE BALL – Kicking the ball is intentionally striking it with any part of the leg, or foot. An unintentionally kicked ball is never illegal, regardless of how far the ball goes, and who recovers it.

SUBSTITUTE – A player who has been replaced, or directed to leave the game, shall not re-enter (with rare exceptions) before the next opportunity to substitute after the clock has been started properly following his, or her, replacement. In other words, a player who has been replaced must sit a tick of the clock, however, a player doesn’t have to play a tick of the clock.

JEWELRY – Players may not participate while wearing jewelry. Religious medals, or medical alert medals, are not considered jewelry. A religious medal must be taped, and worn under the uniform. A medical alert medal must be taped, and may be visible.  Earrings are illegal whether or not they are taped over.

FASHION POLICE – Headbands, wristbands, arm sleeves, knee sleeves, lower leg sleeves, compression shorts, and tights, shall be the solid color black, white, beige, or the predominant color of the jersey, and the same color for each item, and all participants. Anything worn on the arm, and/or the leg (except a knee brace), is defined as a sleeve. Only a single item may be worn on the head (with no extensions), and/or on each wrist. Sweatbands must be worn below the elbow. Rubber, cloth, or elastic bands, of any color, may be used to control hair. Undershirts must be similar in color to the uniform jersey, and shall not have frayed, or ragged edges.

CALLS – Officials are not required to explain judgment calls, but they may explain some calls if approached by the head coach in a respectful manner. Officials have been instructed to call technical fouls for profanity, unsporting acts, excessive complaints, or verbal abuse.

OFFICIATING – Officials are on the court to be the only unbiased arbiters of the game. Officials are not concerned with who wins, or loses, but only fairness, and safety. Everyone else in that gym cares about winning, and therefore, cannot look at the game objectively. Players commit fouls, and violations; officials view those infractions, judge the action, and then apply the rules of the game to what they had viewed. The rules then determine the penalty.