When is the “unhindered” line crossed?
By NFHS definition a free throw is an opportunity given a player to score one point by an UNHINDERED try for goal from within the free-throw semicircle and behind the free-throw line.
The key word here is “unhindered.”
Starting this year scholastic rules have been modified to allow players in marked lane spaces to move into the restricted area on the release of the free-throw try. While we understand the intent of this change is to mirror NCAA rules while still maintaining balance between defense / offense – there are some unintended consequences I’ve personally noticed this season.
The biggest negative observation based on the rule change from last year to this year regards illegal contact with the free-thrower from opponents in marked lane spaces.
Watch the video below … then come back to finish reading our “60 Seconds on Officiating” point of view around this topic.
CLICK TO WATCH VIDEO
So what do you think after watching?
- Is boxing out the free-thrower a legal activity?
- Should any contact with the free-thrower be permitted?
- When is the “unhindered” line crossed?
The free-thrower is restricted from entering the lane area until ball touches the ring or backboard – or the free-throw ends. But players in the marked lane spaces are allowed to move on the release and enter the semicircle where the opponent free-thrower is. This results in situations like depicted in the above video where contact (sometimes excessive and dangerous) occurs to an opponent that is expecting to be unhindered in their try.
Personally I think this is a new problem which needs addressing by one of several potential rule clarifications or points of emphasis for 2015-16.
- Restrict this Area to the Free-Thrower Only – make it a violation (delayed dead ball) if the opponent violates this space. This might be enough to clean this up.
- Any Contact is Illegal – adjust the contact rules to make a free-thrower similar to an airborne shooter. Any contact until the free-throw is complete should be considered the same as if they were airborne. It’s a common foul and based on severity could be considered intentional.
- Any Contact is Illegal and Intentional – makes sense to protect this player, so up the ante to be more severe if contact is made.
It’s just a matter of time, if it hasn’t happened already, where a player will suffer an unnecessary injury from an opponent backing down hard into the free-thrower as they are focusing on their unhindered try for goal.
My recommendation for the remainder of this season is simple.
Talk about this potential situation in your pre-game conference with the crew. Be ready for this type of foul as the Trail (in crews of two) and Center official (in crews of three) – and rule accordingly.
Please post your comments, ideas, and observations to this story. We love to hear your perspective and experiences across the “Ref60 Nation.”
NFHS Rule References