A Touchy Subject

In a basketball game with older and more skilled athletes, the action around the basket can often require officials to make quick and decisive rulings on players touching the ball, the ring and the net.

Do you know when a player can legally contact any of the above mentioned game pieces?

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Whether it’s during a fiercely contested play under the basket, or a lone player leaping up and making contact with the ball, the ring or the net; when you can easily recall WHAT and WHEN it is legal to touch, this type of play will slow down in your mind’s eye and allow you to make a correct, and confident, ruling.

  • Ball is IN or ON (the Basket) = NO Touch:  A player CANNOT touch the ball, the ring, or the net while the ball is ON the ring or IN the basket.
  • Ball is IN (the Imaginary) Cylinder = No Touch:  A player CANNOT touch the ball when it is IN the imaginary cylinder above the rim.

When you see this action has occurred (by either team), confidently blow your whistle and signal defensive (or offensive) BASKET INTERFERENCE.

It’s important to note that touching the ring or the net, when the ball is in the imaginary cylinder above the ring, is LEGAL.

And it’s also legal for a player to inadvertently pull the ring down while attempting to block a shot; tip a ball or grab a rebound.  If this occurs while the ball is above the ring and it snaps back into position without touching the ball, there is no need for a whistle.

  • If the ball goes IN the basket – score the goal.
  • If the ball does NOT go in the basket – play should continue.
  • If the ball gets STUCK in the net — then what?  (take a look here for a video and the answer)

Also a player may legally hang on the ring, if he/she is doing so to avoid injury to themselves or another player.

Remember these REF 60 –  IN and ON tips, and you always be IN the know and ON the money with your rulings on this touchy subject!

About Tim Malloy

Tim is the co-founder of "60 Seconds on Officiating" and has over 40 years of basketball referee experience with IAABO Camden New Jersey Board 34. Tim lives in West Deptford, NJ . More Posts

6 Comments on A Touchy Subject

  1. I think you should have also mentioned that a shot that is touched while on the way down is “Goal Tending.” Score the goal (basket), if the act was by the defense. (Why would the offense do it? Remember: This is high school that we are talking about.)

  2. It is not always goaltending when a shot is touched while on the way down – If a layup (or bank shot) is one it’s way down, it can still be legally blocked provided the ball is not yet above the cylinder.

    • On most layups, the ball is going up immediately after it contacts the backboard. It is legal to pin the ball against the backboard if it still on the way up, and is not in the imaginary cylinder above the basket. It is goaltending if, after a layup, the ball is on it’s way down, and is not in the cylinder.

      • My reply (above) is for a NFHS rule set. Other rule sets (NCAA, NBA, FIBA) may differ.

        • NFHS: Goaltending is when a player touches the ball during a try, or tap, while it is in its downward flight, entirely above the basket ring level, outside the imaginary cylinder above the ring, and has the possibility of entering the basket

  3. Thanks for the commentary York Hoopster and Zackman. This 60 Second Challenge is really only referencing “basket interference” and not goaltending. We will address that later in another article.

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