NBA Rule Authority – Restricted Area and Verticality Plays

Welcome to a new installment of the NBA Rule Authority. Throughout the season we will be posting videos and explanations to some of the NBA’s more complicated rules to help fans better enjoy the game. Below is an example of our verticality rule in the Lakers vs. Toronto Raptors game on Nov. 30.  Even though the second defender is in the restricted area, he jumps straight up & down and absorbs contact.  This is a legal play.


View video here and explanation below:


The Restricted Area and Verticality


On a block-charge type play, a secondary defensive player cannot be in a legal guarding position, even if stationary, inside the “Restricted Area” if the offensive player receives the ball outside the lower defensive box — unless he jumps vertically in an attempt to defend the shot. Therefore, even if positioned inside the Restricted Area, a secondary defender does not commit a blocking foul if contact is made while he is jumping vertically in an attempt to defend. The defender must, however, establish legal guarding position prior to the start of the offensive player’s upward motion.

To be considered vertical, a defender must:

  1. Be in the air to defend the shot when contact occurs. If the player is on the ground inside the restricted area, with his arms “vertical” when contact occurs, he will be assessed a blocking foul.


  1. Maintain a vertical trajectory by jumping straight up. If the player jumps toward or to the side of an oncoming player, he will be assessed a blocking foul. A player may, however, angle his jump backwards slightly in such a way as to absorb the impact of the oncoming player, and of course, he may land behind where he leapt from because of the force of the contact.


  1. Maintain vertical alignment, with his body (arms, hands, torso, legs and feet) in a nearly straight line that is perpendicular to the floor.  If a player leans his arms forward or “jackknifes” his legs toward the oncoming offensive player, he will be assessed a blocking foul.


  1. Not turn sideways.  If he does, he will be assessed a blocking foul.