25 Commonly Misunderstood Rules in Middle/High School Basketball


1. There is no 3-second count between the release of a shot and the control of a rebound, at which time a new count starts.

2. A player can go out of bounds, and return inbounds and be the first to touch the ball. (This isn’t the NFL.) You can be the first to touch a ball if you were out of bounds. However, you must establish yourself as inbounds. Something in, nothing out.

3. There actually is no such thing as “over the back.” There must be contact resulting in advantage/disadvantage. This does not put a tall player at a disadvantage merely for being tall (at least it should not do so).

4. “Reaching” is not actually a foul. There must be contact and the player with the ball must have been placed at a disadvantage.

5. A player can always recover his/her fumbled ball; a fumble is not a dribble, and any steps taken during recovery are not traveling, regardless of progress made and/or advantage gained. (Running while fumbling is also not traveling.) You can fumble a pass, recover it and legally begin a dribble. This is not a double-dribble. If the player bats the ball to the floor in a controlling fashion, picks the ball up, then begins to dribble, you would now have a violation.

6. It is not possible for a player to travel while dribbling.

7. A high dribble is always legal provided the dribbler’s hand stays on top of the ball, and the ball does not come to rest in the dribblers’ hand. The key to “palming” or “carrying” is whether or not the ball is at rest in the hand.

8. A “kicked” ball must be intentional, and contact must be any part of the leg.

9. It is perfectly legal for a player to rebound his/her own air ball, provided the official deemed the shot a legitimate shot.

10. It is impossible to travel, double-dribble, or carry while taking the ball out for a throw in. (I have seen officials tell athletes they can’t move on a throw-in. I’m not sure why, because this is not a rule.) You have limitations, but you can move. They must stay over the spot in a lateral manner. (The spot is 3 feet wide and has no restrictions on depth.)

11. A ball cannot travel over the top of the back board, however, it can travel behind the backboard. The ball can pass through the poles, wires, standards, suspension bars, etc, provided that it does not touch anything.

12. A defender does not have to “give the dribbler a step.” As long as legal guarding position has been established, it is up to the dribbler to avoid contact. The person with the ball should expect to be guarded. Legal guarding position is the key. Time and distance are not an issue when guarding someone with the ball.

13. The front, sides, top, and bottom of a rectangular backboard are IN BOUNDS.

14. Jumpers may tap the ball simultaneously; may tap the ball twice; and when a legally tapped ball touches the floor, a player other than a non-jumper or (believe it or not) a backboard, the jump ball has ended, and either jumper may recover it.

15. A 10-second count continues when the defense deflects or bats the ball. The count ceases only when possession changes.

16. A “moving screen” isn’t a violation unless there is contact and the screener moves too quickly out of position. If contact occurs while the screener is moving, it is a “block,” which is a foul.

17. Any contact foul during a live ball is a personal, not technical foul. The contact can be flagrant, but never technical.

18. Basketball is NOT a non-contact sport. Incidental contact does occur, and contact which does not create an advantage/disadvantage may be ignored. Contact on the shooter should be called though.

19. Any unsportsmanlike contact during a dead ball is a technical foul.

20. A defensive player does not have to be completely stationary to take a charge… he or she simply must have established a legal guarding position. The defense can move backward and sideways.

21. An intentional foul is always penalized with 2 free-throws, except on a missed 3-point shot, which is awarded 3 free-throws.

22. When an airborne shooter commits a player control foul, his/her successful try for goal cannot be allowed, regardless of whether the try was released before or after the foul.

23. Lifting the pivot foot does not constitute a travel unless the ball handler puts the pivot foot back on the floor prior to beginning passing, or shooting the ball. The pivot foot cannot be lifted before the dribble is started.

24. It is not goal-tending if, after contacting the backboard, the ball is touched by a defensive player, provided the ball has not reached it’s apex and it is not inside the cylinder. It is legal for a defender in the normal course of trying to block a shot, to contact the backboard with his hand. This is not basket interference. It is a technical foul only if, in the ref’s judgment, the contact with the backboard was intentional in nature with no real attempt to block the shot.

25. Basket Interference occurs when: a player touches the ball or basket (net included) when the ball is ON or within the perimeter of the basket; touches the ball when it is touching the cylinder having the ring as its lower base; touches the ball outside the cylinder while reaching through the basket from below. Goal Tending occurs when: a player touches the ball during a try or tap while it is in its downward flight entirely above the basket ring level and has the possibility of entering the basket in flight; or an opponent of the free-thrower touches the ball outside the cylinder during a free-throw attempt. Touching the net is only a violation if the ball is in contact with the rim, or is within the basket. It is not a violation if the net is touched while the ball is in the cylinder.


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