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Old Wed Apr 16, 2008, 06:40pm
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Most Misunderstood Basketball Rules

"MOST MISUNDERSTOOD BASKETBALL RULES"

I started working on this list back in March 2005, for a presentation that I was making to a college level basketball coaching class after I was asked to make a presentation on the most misunderstood basketball rules.

This is a list of basketball rules that are often misunderstood by coaches, players, and parents. I developed this list over the past twenty-five years, officiating thousands of basketball games, listening to erroneous comments from players, coaches, and mostly from fans, and thinking to myself, "I wish I could stop the game and explain the real rule to them". This list is not meant to train officials, but rather, it is meant to educate players, coaches, 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".

Now that we're in kind of a "dead period" between our winter season and the new NFHS rules due to come out in a few weeks, I'd like to improve this list. I encourage your comments, suggestions, corrections, deletions, additions, etc.

Thanks to the following Official Forum Basketball web site members for their contributions in developing this list: bossref, Hartsy, Jurassic Referee, Camron Rust, Mark Padgett, Nevadaref, Mark Dexter, Dan ref, mdray, Jimgolf, elecref, Assignmentmaker, IREFU2, David M, JeffW, Back In The Saddle, rainmaker, and texaspaul.
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Old Wed Apr 16, 2008, 06:41pm
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Part I - Misunderstood Basketball Rules

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) The backboard has nothing to do with goaltending. Goaltending is contacting the ball on its downward flight, above the level of the rim, with a chance to go in. On most layups, the ball is going up after it contacts the backboard. It is legal to pin the ball against the backboard if it still on the way up and 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 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.

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

5) 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 playerís 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 call a timeout. If the player is flat on his or her back, that player may sit up without violating.

6) 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 playerís 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 a illegal dribble violation. A player who fumbles the ball when receiving a pass may legally start a dribble.

7) 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 and 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 releases the ball, then this is simply a blocked shot and play continues.

8) Palming or carrying is when a player gains an advantage 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 playerís 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.

9) 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 violation, not travelling. 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 bounce the ball on the out-of-bounds area prior to making a throwin.

10) The defender may not break the imaginary plane during a throwin. If the defender breaks the imaginary plane during a throwin, the defenderís team will receive a team 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 imaginary plane, it is a player technical foul and a team warning will be recorded. If the defender fouls the inbounding player after breaking the imaginary plane, it is an intentional personal foul, and a team warning will be recorded.

11) 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.

12) 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.

13) A moving screen is not in and of itself a foul, 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.

14) The hand is considered part of the ball when the hand 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, no matter how loud it sounds or how much it hurts.

15) Reaching in is not a foul. There must be contact to have a foul. The mere act of reaching in, by itself, is nothing. If contact does occur, itís either a holding foul or an illegal use of hands 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.
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Old Wed Apr 16, 2008, 06:42pm
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Part Ii - Misunderstood Basketball Rules

16) Over the back is not a foul. The term is nowhere to be found in any rulebook. There must be 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.

17) 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 playing court 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.

18) 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.

19) 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.

20) During a throwin, even under a teamís 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. In both cases team control, a player holding or dribbling the ball, has not yet been established.

21) 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.

22) 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.

23) The intent of the three-second rule is to not allow an offensive player 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. 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.

24) 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.

25) 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 both bottom spaces on all free throws. The shooter and all the players in the designated lane spaces must wait until the ball hits rim or backboard before entering the lane. During a free throw, no opponent, including bench personnel, may disconcert the free thrower.

26) 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.

27) 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 and wristbands must be the predominant color of the jersey or white. When wearing headbands and/or wristbands, all players must wear the same color and wear the items as intended. Only a single item may be worn on the head and/or on each wrist. Sweatbands must be worn below the elbow and be a maximum of four inches. A single headband, if worn, must be no wider than two inches. Rubber or cloth elastic bands may be used to control hair. Undershirts must be similar in color to the jersey and shall not have frayed or ragged edges. State associations may on an individual basis, allow a player to participate while wearing a head covering, if it is worn for medical or religious reasons, provided that the covering is not abrasive, hard, or dangerous, and is attached in such a way that it is highly unlikely to come off during play. Written documentation should be available.

28) 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 and excessive complaints or verbal abuse.

29) Officials do not make calls that decide the outcome of a game. 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. 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.

Revised 12/2/07
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Old Thu Apr 17, 2008, 10:59am
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Three I hear about, although I'm not sure they would be considered "most" misunderstood, although number 1 may qualify:

1) a team granted a timeout does not lose the right to run the endline if they had that right prior to the timeout

2) following a made or awarded score, teammates can be OOB behind the endline and pass the ball to each other before 5 seconds is used up

3) following a timeout, the inbounding team never gets to "move the ball up the sideline" to inbound - it's an NBA rule
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Old Thu Apr 17, 2008, 11:19am
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Originally Posted by Mark Padgett
Three I hear about, although I'm not sure they would be considered "most" misunderstood, although number 1 may qualify:

1) a team granted a timeout does not lose the right to run the endline if they had that right prior to the timeout

2) following a made or awarded score, teammates can be OOB behind the endline and pass the ball to each other before 5 seconds is used up

3) following a timeout, the inbounding team never gets to "move the ball up the sideline" to inbound - it's an NBA rule
I would get # 3 a lot myself. If I had a nickel for every time that I muttered, "NBA..."

Ironically enough, under 2 minutes in the 4th, FIBA rules (which Ontario has gone to) allow the TI to morph to the DL if originally in the BC.
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Old Thu Apr 17, 2008, 01:19pm
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Originally Posted by JugglingReferee
Ironically enough, under 2 minutes in the 4th, FIBA rules (which Ontario has gone to) allow the TI to morph to the DL if originally in the BC.
This is one rule that has absolutely no logical explanation behind it. If anyone can think of a reason for it, please post. The only thing I've ever heard is that in the NBA, it can make the game more exciting at the end and that's the point of the league. IOW, it's really the NBE. OK, I can buy that, I guess, but to use it at any "lower" level is just plain nuts.
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Old Thu Apr 17, 2008, 02:02pm
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Originally Posted by Mark Padgett
This is one rule that has absolutely no logical explanation behind it. If anyone can think of a reason for it, please post. The only thing I've ever heard is that in the NBA, it can make the game more exciting at the end and that's the point of the league. IOW, it's really the NBE. OK, I can buy that, I guess, but to use it at any "lower" level is just plain nuts.
As always, I did wonder why the rule is there. The only reason that I could think of was exactly the reason you outlined: to make the end game more exciting.

As a precursor, TOs are granted when a TO opportunity exists and a coach has already made his/her TO request wish known to the table. The table then stops the clock and sounds the horn.

If a team is leading by a bunch, then they are not likely to call a timeout: they want the game to be over.

If a team is losing by a bunch, so far I have noticed that they don't really call timeouts, mostly because of the fact that they know they won't be winning: it seems that they are already conceeding.

If the game is closely contested, under 2 minutes, the clock stops on a made basket: they do have opportunity to steal the ball (and I've seen it work!). If there is no steal, then they can foul to put the opponents on the line, at which point they can request a TO during the dead ball period.

Personally, I support this rule. It has only increased the level of excitement in the end game. Is that bad for levels other than the NBA? I don't think so.
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Old Thu Apr 17, 2008, 02:20pm
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Personally, I support this rule. It has only increased the level of excitement in the end game. Is that bad for levels other than the NBA? I don't think so.
Then why stop there? How about making any basket in the last two minutes by the team that is trailing worth the number of points by which they are trailing? That would be really exciting.

OK - I'm just trying to make the point that the "purity" of the amateur game (or what's left of it) shouldn't be sacrificed just to make the game "more exciting". A team has the entire game to score more points than the other team. They shouldn't get any "artificial" help at the end.

To me, having rules like this is similar to officials calling games different at the end.
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Old Thu Apr 17, 2008, 02:40pm
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Great post BillyMac! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece!
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Old Thu Apr 17, 2008, 04:11pm
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Then why stop there? How about making any basket in the last two minutes by the team that is trailing worth the number of points by which they are trailing? That would be really exciting.

OK - I'm just trying to make the point that the "purity" of the amateur game (or what's left of it) shouldn't be sacrificed just to make the game "more exciting". A team has the entire game to score more points than the other team. They shouldn't get any "artificial" help at the end.

To me, having rules like this is similar to officials calling games different at the end.
The amateur game you speak of is that of US-based, but not the rest of the world. FIBA started in '36 for the best amateur basketball in the world: the Olympics.

What happens when a team is trailing by 1 or 2 and hits a 3?

And doesn't the NCAA stop the clock? But I do see the argument that the NCAA has migrated from pure amateur ball.

I like so many things about FIBA: on the 5th foul in a quarter, we go to a 2-shot bonus. The result: the bonus is reached less often.

Fouls are the same during a live or dead ball. That means if you hit someone that is not intentional, you can still be penalized for it. The translation is that the athletes need to be more aware of their actions at all times.
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Old Thu Apr 17, 2008, 07:16pm
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Group Effort ...

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Great post BillyMac! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your piece!
Thanks to the following Official Forum Basketball web site members for their contributions in developing this list: bossref, Hartsy, Jurassic Referee, Camron Rust, Mark Padgett, Nevadaref, Mark Dexter, Dan ref, mdray, Jimgolf, elecref, Assignmentmaker, IREFU2, David M, JeffW, Back In The Saddle, rainmaker, and texaspaul.
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Old Thu Apr 17, 2008, 11:29pm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Padgett
Then why stop there? How about making any basket in the last two minutes by the team that is trailing worth the number of points by which they are trailing? That would be really exciting.

OK - I'm just trying to make the point that the "purity" of the amateur game (or what's left of it) shouldn't be sacrificed just to make the game "more exciting". A team has the entire game to score more points than the other team. They shouldn't get any "artificial" help at the end.

To me, having rules like this is similar to officials calling games different at the end.
But in some ways I think it's a bogus point. Since the day Dr. Naismith scribbled his 13 rules on a bit of parchment and headed to the gym to see if it would actually work, the game has changed continually. It has had to, for several reasons. And while I have some sympathy for your idealism about amatuer athletics, one reason for the evolution of the game is purely interest and excitement. If the game does not continue to be interesting and exciting, nobody will want to play it.

I'm not saying I want this rule in HS basketball. But I don't believe that making a conscious decision to alter the rules to make the game more exciting somehow robs the game of its purity. After all, the game was invented for that exact reason, to give an unruly PE class something more interesting to do in the gym during the winter than ... whatever it was they were doing previously.
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Old Fri Apr 18, 2008, 07:45am
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The NBA's moving of the throw-in to the 28ft line after a time-out is my number 1 least favorite rule now that the NFL has gotten rid of the force-out rule.

I was complaining to a D-League official about it and their explanation was that it's all about scoring. The fans want to see points.
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Old Fri Apr 18, 2008, 09:19am
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Originally Posted by BadNewsRef
The NBA's moving of the throw-in to the 28ft line after a time-out is my number 1 least favorite rule now that the NFL has gotten rid of the force-out rule.

I was complaining to a D-League official about it and their explanation was that it's all about scoring. The fans want to see points.
So no more forcing the runner or receiver out of bounds?
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Old Fri Apr 18, 2008, 09:24am
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So no more forcing the runner or receiver out of bounds?
No, he's talking about the rule that allowed an official to judge the receiver would have landed in bounds had the defender not "forced him out." This rule has been removed, although I suspect it will be back in the future.

It will essentiall take away a majority of the sideline catches, as defenders will be more likely to just push a receiver out of bounds. They wouldn't do it before because of the rule.

If they don't bring it back in the future, I expect they may make another compromise (1 foot instead of 2 feet, for example).
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