Catch Me If You Can

Here are two strange out of bounds plays to ponder.

Situation #1

Credit: Glenn Clark, TapInto.Net

Credit: Glenn Clark, TapInto.Net

A1 who is near the sideline and bench area is chasing down a loose ball.

  • A1 leaps from inbounds and catches the ball while in the air before falling out of bounds.
  • Seeing this, Coach A while out of bounds and inside the coaching box reaches up toward A1 (airborne) so she doesn’t fall into the bleachers / bench.
  • After being touched by Coach A (who is completely out of bounds) A1, while still in the air, tosses the ball back onto the court.

Is this a violation by A1 for being out of bounds?  Or is this legal?

Is this a technical foul for Coach A for assisting an on-court player?  Or is this legal?

Before we give away the proper ruling.  Let’s take a look at another strange play.

Situation #2

This is similar to the above, but this time no coach is involved in the play.

A1 who is near the sideline is chasing down a loose ball.

  • A1 leaps from inbounds and catches the ball while in the air before falling out of bounds.
  • While still in the air throws the ball back into the playing court.
  • A1 then lands out of bounds and subsequently returns to the court, picks up the ball and begins to dribble.

Is this a legal play?  What is your ruling here?

Let’s solve these two mysteries.

Ruling #1: Being Touched by the Coach

For A1 to be considered out of bounds she must touch the floor or some object on (or outside) a boundary line.

People are NOT considered objects and play may continue.

Inadvertently touching someone who is out of bounds like a coach, bench personnel, spectator, etc., without gaining an advantage is not considered a violation.  Since the A1 did not initiate this contact to gain an advantage it’s safe to rule this a a legal play.

For a player to be considered out of bounds while in control of the ball they must touch an object (including the floor) on or outside a boundary line.  This includes scorer’s table, bleachers, chairs and other “non-living” objects.

GirlHolderRuling #2: Regaining Possession and Starting a Dribble

  • A1 leaps from inbounds and catches the ball while in the air before falling out of bounds is LEGAL.
  • While still in the air throws the ball back into the playing court is LEGAL
  • A1 then lands out of bounds and subsequently returns to the court is LEGAL
  • When A1 picks up the ball and begins to dribble this constitutes an ILLEGAL DRIBBLE.

The controlled toss of the ball to the court by A1 constitutes the start of a dribble.

Dribbling a second time after picking up the ball is where the illegal dribble violation would occur. Remember a dribble begins by intentionally pushing, throwing or batting the ball to the floor (once or several times) – which was the case when A1 threw the ball back into the playing court.  This dribble ended when A1 picks up the ball.

If A1 would have NOT picked up the ball and rather immediately started the dribble this would be a legal play.

Most likely you will not be faced with such strange plays but knowing these concepts will allow you to apply a correct ruling in any “catch me if you can” situation.

Rule References
4-15-5, 4-15-6d,4-35,9-5
Casebook 7.1.1 (Situations A and D)

 

About Billy Martin

Co-creator of "60 Seconds on Officiating" and co-author of Beyond the Rules (book series) for Basketball Officials. Billy is a 35+ year basketball official with IAABO (Camden Board 34 and Cum-Cape 196, in Southern NJ). He also is a collegiate softball umpire with the Eastern Collegiate Softball Umpires (ECSU), and created the best selling "Bluebook 60" for fastpitch umpires, and coaches. He is considered one of the nations top authors and instructors on basketball officiating for over two decades. He lives in Wildwood, New Jersey - just a few steps away from the sand and surf. Contact: Website | Facebook | Twitter | More Posts

9 Comments on Catch Me If You Can

  1. jjewett33@gmail.com' Jeffrey Jewett // February 8, 2018 at 12:54 am // Reply

    In situation 1, would the ruling be the same had the ball touched the coach?

  2. bkinney99@gmail.com' Brett Kinney // February 8, 2018 at 7:42 am // Reply

    Not sure that I understand why ball touching a person out of bounds would not considered a violation. If a referee is out of bounds and the ball hits them, the whistle is blown immediately for an out of bounds violation. In addition, if a ball bounces or is thrown out of bounds across the sideline towards the bench, the whistle should be blown immediately upon touching a person out of bounds. We do not wait until the ball hits a person, deflects off them, then hits the floor or bleacher. Therefore, your explanation of situation 1 really seems to be inconsistent with other judications of out of bounds violations.

    • oconnjr66@hotmail.com' Les O'Connor Jr // February 8, 2018 at 12:50 pm // Reply

      There’s a difference in the rulebook between a inbounds player touching a person/object that’s out of bounds and the BALL touching a person/object that’s out of bounds. Don’t have my books on me right now but I do remember reading that distinction. I’ll post the rule/case plays later today unless someone else does.

  3. Thanks Brett … check out NFHS Casebook 7.1.1 (Situation A). Sorry but we don’t write the rules … we just enforce them. :-)

  4. I thought when a person goes out of bounds then comes back in bounds that person cannot be the first person to touch the ball.

  5. These are two very good learning and teaching plays. Haven’t had the first play before but I’ve had the second play several times in the past two summers and luckily for me I got it right both times because I new the rule from having that play a few years earlier were I too thought it was illegal to be the first to touch the ball after returning from out of bounds. But after researching the play i found out it was a legal play. Both times my partners disagree with me, so after I’ll game I sent both of them the Rule and a case play to support my decision. Keep up the good work Ref60, Mr Direct in Baltimore

  6. I’m not convinced that Ruling #2 is correct. In the scenario, when player A1 leaps and catches, then throws the ball, a dribble has begun (as supported by this statement in the article – “Remember a dribble begins by intentionally pushing, throwing or batting the ball to the floor (once or several times) – which was the case when A1 threw the ball back into the playing court.” When A1 returns to the court and touches the ball, he/she would have violated NFHS 9-3-1, which notes: The dribbler has committed a violation if he/she steps on or outside the boundary, even though he/she is not touching the ball while he/she is out of bounds. Because A1 has started a dribble, stepped OOB, then returned to the court to either end or continue the dribble, I believe the ruling should be illegal, per NFHS 9-3-1.

    • Except it doesn’t say A1 is the dribbler, they are chasing down a loose ball – nor does he/she dribble until they come back onto the court after being OOB.
      *********************************************
      A1 who is near the sideline is chasing down a loose ball.

      A1 leaps from inbounds and catches the ball while in the air before falling out of bounds.
      While still in the air throws the ball back into the playing court.
      A1 then lands out of bounds and subsequently returns to the court, picks up the ball and begins to dribble.
      *********************************************

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