Back-court Violation: Throw-In

Back-court BC violations are often confusing. This scenario had me opening the rule book:

Scenario 1: Beginning of 3rd period, A1 inbounds ball to A2 who is standing both feet in A’s front-court, but right in front of division line.  A2 tries to receive pass with one hand but does not control it, and in trying to control it pushes ball to floor, in the back-court. RULING: No possession/ie team control so no violation. Both her feet were in FC, but without possession there is no team control yet so no FC/BC yet. If she would’ve controlled it then dribbled in BC, then BC call.

Bam/Bam Plays: Jump Ball/Push, Backcourt/Crash

Sometimes two things happen so fast – bam.. bam – you often make a ruling then rewind/slow mo it in your head 20 times.

Background: A held ball (official name for ‘jump ball’ when 2 players gain control of ball simultaneously) can often lead to frustration. Backcourt violations occur the instant the ball is illegally touched in the backcourt.

Scenario 1: A1 and B1 gain possession. As I whistle/signal held ball, B1 pushes A1. The timing was so close: I already decided it was a held ball, as I was signaling/whistling the push occurred. The push happened during my whistle, I ended up ruling a common foul push (after signaling a held ball). UGLY!
Scenario 2: A1 is last to touch ball bouncing into backcourt. Right after A1 touches ball, B1 hustling to get ball crashes into A1 causing her to fall. The crash occurred after the touch/BC violation but not after the whistle.  RULING: If the violation came first, the only real decision to make is “Was the contact intentional of flagrant?”  If not, ignore it.  If the contact was significant, it could be judged intentional (hard foul) and then ruled a dead ball technical foul.

Simultaneous or Near Simultaneous Contact on Long Rebound

Basketball is no longer considered a non-contact sport. This recent play had me researching rules:

Scenario 1: Shot careens off rim to the left of backboard, I am at Lead in B position with great angle/look. B1 jumps from under basket to get rebound, A1 jumps from outside to get rebound, (a) A1 gets possession of the ball then crashes into B1 causing her to fall to floor; (b) what if A1 and B1 get to ball simultaneously, but smaller size of B1 has her fall to floor. RULING: (a) Block on B1: Once A1 controls ball, B1 is responsible for the contact; (b) Incidental contact, play on. In (b), it will look ugly, and coaches/fans will complain. But the fair actions to take are either double foul on both, or play on. I am going with play on.


The Euro-step has become very popular. If done correctly (ball gathered before first step) it is a legal play. Unfortunately many players will gather ball with a foot down (now the pivot), then take their 2 Euro-steps returning the pivot to the floor: TRAVEL.

Situation 1: A1 drives to hoop, euro-steps passed stationary defender B1, A1 tripping on B1’s leg (a) within her vertical space), or (b) outside of her vertical space (e.g. feet too wide), causing A1 to fall.  RULING: (a) Player Control, (b) Block.

“Blarge”: Block / Charge

[Block/Charge is one of the toughest calls we make]

Many officials believe a collision between two players should be either a block or a charge. We are trained to delay our rulings when we hear a partners whistle to confirm what we saw so that we agree. Sometimes that delay does not occur (click here for recent example in an NCAA game).

When it does occur, there is a prescribed solution: both fouls are called, and any penalties awarded.

Defending without Hands

Young players learn bad habits playing defense with their hands. Their young opponents may not be good ball handlers so they are tempted to reach/poke at balls. As they start playing against better ball handlers, these ‘pokes’ often/usually become fouls. New emphasis is put on defenders not using hands to play defense.

Scenario 1: A1 dribbling up court. B1 has Legal Guarding Position LGP but then right before crash she reaches forward to try to poke ball from A1.  A1 then crashes into B1 causing B1 to fall to floor. RULING: Block.  Once B1 gains LGP, she can move laterally and back, but cannot move forward into offensive player A1. B1 reached forward into A1’s space (to poke ball), losing LGP, causing the initial contact. Had B1 not poked and maintained good defense, the crash would’ve been A1’s Player Control foul.

Entitled to the Spot

A basic principle of hoops says if a player gets to a spot first, they are entitled to that spot (few exceptions, e.g. other player already in the air on a try).
Situation 1: L is in A position in frontcourt, A1 has ball in L’s corner with no defender.  A1 drives to hoop, B2 is standing still (never moved) at lane, A1 brushes off side of B2.  RULING: Play on, B2 entitled to that spot.
Scenarion 2: B2 standing in lane with back to A1 (perhaps B2 is defending A2), B2 never attempts LGP as they have back turned, but they are entitled to their spot.  A1 drives to hoop and either (a) brushes off B2 with no displacement, or (b) displaces B2.  RULING: (a) no call; (b) player control foul

Pre-Game T’s

No official likes to start a game with a T, most of us do our best to make sure the book is all set prior to any penalties occurring.

Situation 1: Team A has 7 players in book with 1 minute in warm-ups remaining (required by 10 minutes).  A1 gets sick during warm-ups, coach informs R he wants to add a player.  R tells him no problem, but will cost him a technical foul, he knows and says that’s OK.  By that time minute had run out, R calls technical foul on head coach and proceeds w/ B1 shooting, then B ball at division to start game, AP to A.  Other notes:

  • Coach retains coaching box privilege

Verticality & Shot-blocking

The greatest temptation of defenders against a shooter is to stuff the shooter, or even better the crowd-pleasing swat into the stands. It is also one of the most common and easiest fouls to call.

Today defenders – and especially the Bigs – should be taught to stay within their vertical space (shoulder-width to the ceiling), including their arms. I cannot count how many times I see a defender go straight up, then succumb at the last second and swing their arms trying for the big block, not realizing that just being up there has a good chance of affecting the shot (making them miss).

Emphasis is put on not penalizing good defense: If I see a player jumping straight up with arms straight up, I am unlikely to call a foul (There are exceptions e.g. shooter already in the air).

What happens often at lower girls levels is what I call the birds nest because the ball reminds me of food being fed to baby birds in a nest: A1 shooting the ball, B1, B2, B3 trying to block, often repeating this several times. If B1/B2/B3 are going straight up with arms in their verticality, play on.