Basketball Rules You Should Know

Basketball Rules You Should Know

Basketball rules interpretations can often be very controversial.  Whether you are new to the game or a coaching veteran, it is always worthwhile to take a look at the basketball rules and how they should be enforced.  While it may seem foolish to study something like basketball rules, you may be glad you did so when that totally unique situation occurs.  I also think it’s particularly valuable for youth basketball coaches and those coaching at lower levels of high school basketball, because this is where you often have officials that may not fully understand the rules.  While I don’t ever suggest arguing with an official, knowing the basketball rules could one day help a call go in your favor.

Basketball Rules You Should Know

I found a nice resource that has 25 misunderstood basketball rules that coaches and officials should know.  Here’s a rundown on a few of these misunderstood basketball rules (in no particular order).  Note: These rules apply specifically to high school basketball, not college or professional.  Be sure to check out that website for the full list of misunderstood rules. [starlist]

  • You can’t be the first player to touch the ball after coming inbounds.  This is FALSE.  As long as you have reestablished yourself as inbounds, or in other words nothing is touching out of bounds, than you may be legally be in possession of the basketball.  The confusion from this rule likely stems from football where they have rules on being the first to touch the ball after going out of bounds.  In basketball you just need to be inbounds to be able to legally possess the basketball.
  • You cannot be called for a travel while dribbling.  This is TRUE.  While there may be times where a player appears to take many steps in between dribbles, the basketball rule book clearly states that a player cannot travel while dribbling the basketball.
  • A kicked ball must be intentional.  This is TRUE.  For it to be a kicked ball it must be intentional and can be called for hitting any part of the leg.
  • You cannot rebound your own air ball on a shot.  This is FALSE.  You may, as long as the official deems the shot to be a legitimate attempt to score rebound your own air ball.
  • The basketball cannot travel over top of the backboard.  This is TRUE.  The basketball may not travel over the top of the backboard, it can however travel behind the backboard (with a pass for example) as long as it does not come in contact with any of the structures holding up the backboard.
  • You cannot move during a dead ball inbounds situation.  This is FALSE.  You are limited (3 feet horizontally) but you may in fact move without a violation within those parameters.  There is no rule on depth.
  • The sides, top and bottom of the backboard are considered out of bounds.  This is FALSE.  Those areas are considered in bounds, but s mentioned earlier if the ball travels over the backboard that is considered out of bounds.
  • A ‘moving screen’ is only a foul if there is contact.  This is TRUE.  No violation occurs unless contact on the moving screen has been made, in which case a block may be called.
  • When an airborne player commits a player control foul, his/her shot attempt, even if successful does not count.  This is TRUE.  Regardless if the foul was committed before or after the shot, the basket does not count.[/starlist]There are several other very good rule interpretations that you may wish to be aware of as well.  Please check out the full list here.

NFHS Basketball Rule book and recent changes

NFHS Basketball Rule BookHere is the official basketball rules book from the National Federation of State High School Association for 2011-12 along with links to rule changes for 2012-13 and 2013-14.

2011-12 NFHS Basketball Rules Book (PDF)

2012-13 NFHS Basketball Rules Changes (PowerPoint)

2013-14 NFHS Basketball Rules Changes (PDF)


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