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Old Sun Nov 01, 2015, 12:09pm
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2015-16 The Most Misunderstood Basketball Rules ...

I figure that it's time to post "the list" for the benefit of new Forum members that may never have seen this before. "The list" celebrates it's tenth season. Enjoy.

The Most Misunderstood Basketball Rules

This is a list of high school basketball rules that are often misunderstood by coaches, players, and parents, and fans. I developed this list over the past thirty years, officiating thousands of basketball games, listening to erroneous comments from players, coaches, parents, and fans, and thinking to myself, "I wish I could stop the game and explain the real rule to them". This list is meant to educate those players, coaches, parents, and fans.

For example. A player is dribbling the ball in the backcourt and a fan is yelling, "Three seconds". Or, a player is inbounding the ball and a parent yells, "He's stepping on the boundary line". How many times have things like this happened to you? Don't you just want to blow the whistle, stop the game, and say, "There can't be a three second violation until the ball is in the frontcourt", or, "The player can step on the line, but not over the line".

I started working on this list back in 2005, for a presentation that I was making to a college level basketball coaching class after I was asked to give a lecture on the most misunderstood basketball rules. The list has evolved many times over the years.
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Last edited by BillyMac; Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 12:57pm.
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Old Sun Nov 01, 2015, 12:11pm
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The Most Misunderstood Basketball Rules - Part I ...

The Most Misunderstood Basketball Rules

Note: Based on NFHS (National Federation of State High School Associations) rules.

It is important to know the intent and purpose of a rule so that it may be intelligently applied in each play situation. A player of a team should not be permitted an advantage which is not intended by a rule. Neither should play be permitted to develop which may lead to placing a player at a disadvantage not intended by a rule.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 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.

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.

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.

If a player's momentum carries him or her off the court, he, or she, 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.

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.

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.

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 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 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.
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Last edited by BillyMac; Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 12:15pm.
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Old Sun Nov 01, 2015, 12:13pm
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The Most Misunderstood Basketball Rules - Part II ...

A defensive player does not have to remain stationary to take a charge. A defender may turn away, or duck, to absorb contact, provided he, or she, 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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. It is also illegal to hit the ball with a fist.

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.

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.

Headbands, wristbands, sleeves, 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.

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.

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.

Revised 10/3/15
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Last edited by BillyMac; Sun Nov 01, 2015 at 12:31pm.
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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 01:26pm
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Thank you! I appreciated going through each of these. Had some real food for thought, especially around backcourt violations as it pertains to throw ins.
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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 02:02pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyMac View Post
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. These three situations are not backcourt violations.
I'm having a bit of a hard time with this one. Lets start with the throw-in. If the ball is tipped, the throw-in has ended, so all throw-in exceptions no longer exist. The ball location is the same as when it last touched a player, so if an offensive player in his/her front court tips the ball, the ball location is is the front court. If it is tipped into the backcourt and retrieved by an offensive player, I'm seeing this as a backcourt violation.

Exact same train of thought for a shot....
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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 02:04pm
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Originally Posted by Geof View Post
I'm having a bit of a hard time with this one. Lets start with the throw-in. If the ball is tipped, the throw-in has ended, so all throw-in exceptions no longer exist. The ball location is the same as when it last touched a player, so if an offensive player in his/her front court tips the ball, the ball location is is the front court. If it is tipped into the backcourt and retrieved by an offensive player, I'm seeing this as a backcourt violation.

Exact same train of thought for a shot....
The requirement for "player control inbounds" has not been met in either case.
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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 02:13pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geof View Post
I'm having a bit of a hard time with this one. Lets start with the throw-in. If the ball is tipped, the throw-in has ended, so all throw-in exceptions no longer exist. The ball location is the same as when it last touched a player, so if an offensive player in his/her front court tips the ball, the ball location is is the front court. If it is tipped into the backcourt and retrieved by an offensive player, I'm seeing this as a backcourt violation.

Exact same train of thought for a shot....
The throw-in ending does not mean you have possession in the FC which is required for a violation for a BC to take place. Touching or tipping the ball does not establish possession. And on a shot if the ball is tipped and tapped around does not establish control in either part of the court. The rule states possession, has to be established in the FC then be the first to touch in the BC after you were the last to touch in the FC. You are buying into the very myth that this point is trying to get you and others out of thinking is the rule.

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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 02:23pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geof View Post
I'm having a bit of a hard time with this one. Lets start with the throw-in. If the ball is tipped, the throw-in has ended, so all throw-in exceptions no longer exist. The ball location is the same as when it last touched a player, so if an offensive player in his/her front court tips the ball, the ball location is is the front court. If it is tipped into the backcourt and retrieved by an offensive player, I'm seeing this as a backcourt violation.

Exact same train of thought for a shot....
There are four things that must happen in order to have a backcourt violation. You're missing the big one, which others have alluded to.

The backcourt and team control rules are poorly written and have caused headaches for those on this forum, including myself. However, the NFHS has made clear that, despite what the rule may or may not say, that team control must have been established inbounds in order to have a BC violation.

Last edited by bballref3966; Wed Nov 04, 2015 at 02:40pm.
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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 03:25pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob jenkins View Post
The requirement for "player control inbounds" has not been met in either case.
Quote:
Originally Posted by JRutledge
The throw-in ending does not mean you have possession in the FC which is required for a violation for a BC to take place. Touching or tipping the ball does not establish possession.
The rule for backcourt does not dictate player control inbounds. It says "A player shall not be the first to touch the ball after it has been in team control in the frontcourt, if he/she or a teammate last touched or was touched by the ball in the frontcourt before it went to the backcourt."

Per 4-12-2, a team is in control of the ball:
a. When a player of the team is in control.
b. While a live ball is being passed among teammates.
c. During an interrupted dribble.
d. When a player of the team has disposal of the ball for a throw-in.

So we have team control during a throw-in, a pass which is still team control, a tip in the front court by the offense which means the ball has front court location ("A ball which is in flight retains the same location as when it was last in contact with a player or the court."). All the elements of backcourt are present.

On a shot, I can see what you all are saying. There is indeed no team control. No so for a throw-in....
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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 03:27pm
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Originally Posted by Geof View Post
The rule for backcourt does not dictate player control inbounds. It says "A player shall not be the first to touch the ball after it has been in team control in the frontcourt, if he/she or a teammate last touched or was touched by the ball in the frontcourt before it went to the backcourt."

Per 4-12-2, a team is in control of the ball:
a. When a player of the team is in control.
b. While a live ball is being passed among teammates.
c. During an interrupted dribble.
d. When a player of the team has disposal of the ball for a throw-in.

So we have team control during a throw-in, a pass which is still team control, a tip in the front court by the offense which means the ball has front court location ("A ball which is in flight retains the same location as when it was last in contact with a player or the court."). All the elements of backcourt are present.

On a shot, I can see what you all are saying. There is indeed no team control. No so for a throw-in....
The NFHS has put out correspondence stating TC on a throw-in is only for the purposes of adjudicated fouls during the throw-in. It is not "true" TC.
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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 03:39pm
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The NFHS has put out correspondence stating TC on a throw-in is only for the purposes of adjudicated fouls during the throw-in. It is not "true" TC.
If that is the case, then that would be the missing link. Thank you!
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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 03:44pm
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You also need to read Rule 9-9 that says very clearly:

Quote:
Article 1:
A player shall not be the first to touch the ball after it has been in team control in the front court, if he/she or a teammate last touched or was touched by the ball in the frontcourt before it went to the backcourt.
You do not have TC in the FC by touching the basketball. You have to first possess the basketball to establish TC in the FC. A throw-in only has TC out of bounds, which is not apart of the rule to have a BC violation.

If you read your own reference in 4-12-2a, that says:

Quote:
When a player of a team is in control of the ball.
Ending a throw-in does not automatically establish TC or even player control.

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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 04:03pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRutledge View Post
You also need to read Rule 9-9 that says very clearly:



You do not have TC in the FC by touching the basketball. You have to first possess the basketball to establish TC in the FC. A throw-in only has TC out of bounds, which is not apart of the rule to have a BC violation.

If you read your own reference in 4-12-2a, that says:



Ending a throw-in does not automatically establish TC or even player control.

Peace
Yes you do. Certainly not on a throw in, but it is possible to touch the ball in the FC without controlling it to have FC status.

Case book 9.9.1 C: A1 is dribbling in his/her backcourt and throws a pass to the frontcourt. While standing in A's frontcourt A2 touches the ball and deflects it back to A's backcourt where it touches the floor. A2 recovers in the backcourt.

RULING: Violation. The ball was in control of A1 and Team A, and a player from A was the last to touch the ball in frontcourt and a player of A was the first to touch it after it returned to the back court.

Last edited by OKREF; Wed Nov 04, 2015 at 04:09pm.
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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 04:11pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OKREF View Post
Yes you do. Certainly not on a throw in, but it is possible to touch the ball in the FC without controlling it to have FC status.

Case book 9.9.1 C: A1 is dribbling in his/her backcourt and throws a pass to the frontcourt. While standing in A's frontcourt A2 touches the ball and deflects it back to A's backcourt where it touches the floor. A2 recovers in the backcourt.

RULING: Violation. The ball was in control of A1 and Team A, and a player from A was the last to touch the ball in frontcourt and a player of A was the first to touch it after it returned to the back court.
A1 is in backcourt passes ball, deflects off official standing in FC then bounces back to the BC. A2 retrieves ball in BC.

Violation.

Before any BC violation is possible, player/team control must be established inbounds, not in the FC as the rule book states. After that occurs, then BC violations are possible.
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Last edited by Raymond; Wed Nov 04, 2015 at 04:15pm.
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Old Wed Nov 04, 2015, 04:14pm
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If that is the case, then that would be the missing link. Thank you!
Yes, that is the case. The rule is an absolute mess, but it is what it is. Until team control has been established on the playing court (a player holding or dribbling a live ball), a BC violation is not possible.
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