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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 12:59pm
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Punch Ball

NFHS 9-4: "A player shall not strike (the ball) with the fist".

This is my twenty-seventh year of officiating, and I never used this rule before, or seen this rule used, until yesterday. Boys prep school varsity game. Team A had throwin on the endline after a field goal by Team B. No back court pressure from Team B. A1's throw in pass goes to A2, who "punches" the ball back to A1 who is now in bounds.

Why? I'm not sure, but I blew the whistle. Somehow this rule came to me from the deep recesses of my brain. It was a reaction call. After the whistle, I got kind of flustered. I don't think that I gave the stop the clock signal. I tried to make up a signal by punching my two fists together. I did call out the correct color, and pointed to the designated spot.

After the game, we, that is my partner, and the two officials who followed us as part of this boy-girl, varsity doubleheader, discussed the call, and decided that the call probably should not have been made. OK. I understand the spirit and intent of the rules, and the advantage, disadvantage, philosophy, and I agree, I probably shouldn't have made that call. I don't know if this is important, but Team A won the game easily.

After my game, I stayed around to watch the girls game. The athletic director, and A2, the offender, politely approached me and asked, "Why" is it illegal to punch the ball, the key word here is "Why"? I responded that I didn't know "Why", but that is was a real rule, and I took out my rule book, and showed them the rule, which includes the more commonly called intentional kick violation. The athletic director advised the young man, who will be playing for UMASS next year, to keep this rule in mind when he plays in college next year, to which I replied, that I'm not an NCAA official, and it may, or may not, be an NCAA rule.

My question: According to the spirit and intent of the rules, and the advantage, disadvantage, philosophy, if I was mistaken in calling this violation, then under what conditions would this violation be called correctly, again, according to the spirit and intent of the rules, and the advantage, disadvantage, philosophy. In other words, why is this rule in the rule book, if it's never, or almost never, called?
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 01:28pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyMac
My question: According to the spirit and intent of the rules, and the advantage, disadvantage, philosophy, if I was mistaken in calling this violation, then under what conditions would this violation be called correctly, again, according to the spirit and intent of the rules, and the advantage, disadvantage, philosophy. In other words, why is this rule in the rule book, if it's never, or almost never, called?
Let me ask you this? So if A1 bounce passes to A2 who kicks the ball up to himself wouldn't be considered a intentional kick?

I'm not sure what your partners were saying about intent, spirit, etc... I will say that the rule is CLEAR. Just as you can't intentionally kick the ball you can't intentionally strike the ball with a fist.

I'm thinking GOOD CALL!!! To ignore it would be to set aside a clear and precise rule.
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 01:51pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyMac
My question: According to the spirit and intent of the rules, and the advantage, disadvantage, philosophy, if I was mistaken in calling this violation, then under what conditions would this violation be called correctly, again, according to the spirit and intent of the rules, and the advantage, disadvantage, philosophy. In other words, why is this rule in the rule book, if it's never, or almost never, called?
My understanding is that the rule is basically of the "safety" variety. The FED didn't want fists flying; fists that could possibly hit another player. That doesn't seem to be an option in the situation that you described. Personally, with no other players around, I'd let it go but make sure that I'd tell the player later that it's a "don't do that".

It's almost like 10 seconds to shoot a free throw, I guess. The accepted practice seems to be giving some latitude to the call.

The same rule applies under NCAA rules. I doubt very much that anyone at that level would ever make that call either if there were no players in the vicinity of the punch.
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 02:09pm
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Seems Reasonable

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jurassic Referee
My understanding is that the rule is basically of the "safety" variety. The FED didn't want fists flying; fists that could possibly hit another player. The same rule applies under NCAA rules. I doubt very much that anyone at that level would ever make that call either if there were no players in the vicinity of the punch.
This makes a lot of sense. So it's more of a safety issue than an advantage, disadvantage, issue.
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 02:16pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jurassic Referee
My understanding is that the rule is basically of the "safety" variety. The FED didn't want fists flying; fists that could possibly hit another player. That doesn't seem to be an option in the situation that you described. Personally, with no other players around, I'd let it go but make sure that I'd tell the player later that it's a "don't do that".

It's almost like 10 seconds to shoot a free throw, I guess. The accepted practice seems to be giving some latitude to the call.

The same rule applies under NCAA rules. I doubt very much that anyone at that level would ever make that call either if there were no players in the vicinity of the punch.
JR..I'm surprised by your response. I have personally never got to 10 on a FT count but will admit that my count probably isn't the fastest in the world either.

Your generally so by the book. I just can't see how you could set aside an obvious hit of the ball with a fist. The rule is clear and doesn't have any language in it that would suggest allowances or intent. (Example would be 3 second rule where player makes a move to the basket)

What if its a close game and a player @ the timeline decides to hit the ball with his fist with no other players in the vicinity? The opposing coach knows the rule and knows that he/she should be getting the ball back. However you decide to set the rule aside just because no other players are around? You will have just kicked a RULE!
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 02:25pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gimlet25id
JR..I'm surprised by your response. I have personally never got to 10 on a FT count but will admit that my count probably isn't the fastest in the world either.

Your generally so by the book. I just can't see how you could set aside an obvious hit of the ball with a fist. The rule is clear and doesn't have any language in it that would suggest allowances or intent.
I'd say it has to do with defining "strike". It's not hard to see how in the OP the fist didn't really strike the ball, just sort of stopped it. You might think of it as the fist being legal, but the "strike" not so mjuch. Punching is illegal because it's dangerous, and also, I've been told, so that a player can't punch toward someone and then try to pretend he/she was aiming for the ball.

Edited to change word "punch" to "strike".

Last edited by rainmaker; Sun Jan 27, 2008 at 02:36pm.
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 02:33pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyMac
This makes a lot of sense. So it's more of a safety issue than an advantage, disadvantage, issue.
I can understand that its a safety issue. However the rule doesn't give us the ability to decide if it was unsafe or not. If it did then there would be another NOTE with this rule.
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 02:42pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rainmaker
I'd say it has to do with defining "punch". It's not hard to see how in the OP the fist didn't really punch the ball, just sort of stopped it. You might think of it as the fist is legal, but the punch isn't. Punching is illegal because it's dangerous, and also, I've been told, so that a player can't punch toward someone and then try to pretend he/she was aiming for the ball.

Editted: rule says it's illegal to "strike" the ball with the fist. I think the principles of interpretation still apply.
Good Point! I can see the interpretation as long as he/she didn't "punch" the ball. If the player stops the ball with a closed fist then I would agree its nothing. If the player "strikes" the ball with a fist then IMO its a violation.
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 02:49pm
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I called this for the first time last season (7 years of varsity ball). Quick steal near the FT line, player then punches the ball upcourt to streaking teammate. I whistle violation and the entire gym is perplexed. Next dead ball, I explained it to the coach. He thanked me and pointed out that his player had been doing it all season without penalty. So was I right? If so, why aren't others calling it the same? If not, what is the criteria to use for passing on the call?
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 03:16pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bad Zebra
I called this for the first time last season (7 years of varsity ball). Quick steal near the FT line, player then punches the ball upcourt to streaking teammate. I whistle violation and the entire gym is perplexed. Next dead ball, I explained it to the coach. He thanked me and pointed out that his player had been doing it all season without penalty. So was I right? If so, why aren't others calling it the same? If not, what is the criteria to use for passing on the call?

BZ:

You made the correct call. I have had only two games in 37 years of officiating where this violation occured. My partner got it the first time (the game was in my fifth year of officiating) and I called in a game a couple of years ago. It is not the most common violation one will see, but they do happen. Both the games in which the violations occured were boys' games. I wonder why we do not see this more often in girls' basketball because of all of the girls that play both basketball and volleyball.

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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 03:36pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gimlet25id
JR..I'm surprised by your response. I have personally never got to 10 on a FT count but will admit that my count probably isn't the fastest in the world either.

Your generally so by the book. I just can't see how you could set aside an obvious hit of the ball with a fist. The rule is clear and doesn't have any language in it that would suggest allowances or intent. (Example would be 3 second rule where player makes a move to the basket)

What if its a close game and a player @ the timeline decides to hit the ball with his fist with no other players in the vicinity? The opposing coach knows the rule and knows that he/she should be getting the ball back. However you decide to set the rule aside just because no other players are around? You will have just kicked a RULE!
I'm not surprised by your response.

Nope, I won't have made that call by the book. I will have called the play the way that it usually has been called, in my experience. And I don't think that I'll ever see the call made in The Land Of College Or Above either. Note that is just my own personal opinion.

If you think that I go by the book 100%, you just haven't been paying attention. Some plays have to be called by the book. Other plays may be called, depending on the situation, but they also might be ignored.

Btw, fwiw there are situations where I sureasheck wouldn't dream of calling 3 seconds, and those situations have got nothing to do with a player making a move to the basket.

Last edited by Jurassic Referee; Sun Jan 27, 2008 at 06:26pm.
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 03:40pm
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Originally Posted by rainmaker
I'd say it has to do with defining "strike". It's not hard to see how in the OP the fist didn't really strike the ball, just sort of stopped it. You might think of it as the fist being legal, but the "strike" not so mjuch. Punching is illegal because it's dangerous, and also, I've been told, so that a player can't punch toward someone and then try to pretend he/she was aiming for the ball.

Edited to change word "punch" to "strike".
I don't care if they strike the ball either. If there's no other player in the neighborhood, I ain't calling it.....unless I've already warned that player not to do it.
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 04:22pm
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I saw an instance of this in a wreck game a couple of years ago that got me thinking. Throw-in in the back court, no defensive pressure anywhere near. The recipient of the pass tosses it a foot or so into the air, and as the ball dropped he struck it with his fist downward toward the floor to start his dribble. The smoothness with which he executed the move made me think it's something he does frequently.
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 04:45pm
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Just Curious ???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jurassic Referee
I won't have made that call by the book. I will have called the play the way that it usually has been called, in my experience. And I don't think that I'll ever see the call made in The Land Of College Or Above either.
Jurassic Referee: Just curious, how many times in your career, did you have an opportunity to "not" make this call? I've been involved with basketball for over forty years, as a player, coach, fan, parent, and official, and I've never observed a player strike the ball with their fist, until yesterday.

Last edited by BillyMac; Sun Jan 27, 2008 at 04:54pm.
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Old Sun Jan 27, 2008, 05:58pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillyMac
Jurassic Referee: Just curious, how many times in your career, did you have an opportunity to "not" make this call? I've been involved with basketball for over forty years, as a player, coach, fan, parent, and official, and I've never observed a player strike the ball with their fist, until yesterday.
More than a few, to be quite honest. Usually it's just a player knocking a throw-in or short pass to someone else, or starting a dribble with a fist with no one around. I just whisper in their ear "don't do dat". That's just me, though.

Here's a question for you...is it legal for the thrower on a throw-in to fist the ball inbounds? How about if the thrower kicks the ball inbounds on a throw-in?
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