RULE NO. 4: Definitions

Section I—Basket/Backboard

Section II—Dribble

Section III—Fouls

Section IV—Free Throw

Section V—Frontcourt/Backcourt

Section VI—Held Ball

Section VII—Pivot

Section VIII—Traveling

Section IX—Screen

Section X—Field Goal Attempt

Section XI—Throw-In

Section XII—Last Two Minutes

Section XIII—Suspension of Play

Section XIV—Point of Interruption

Section XV—Team Control

Section XVI—Team Possession

Section XVII—Fumble


Section I—Basket/Backboard

a. A team’s basket consists of the basket ring and net through which its players try to
shoot the ball. The visiting team has the choice of baskets for the first half. The basket
selected by the visiting team when it first enters onto the court shall be its basket for the first
b. The teams change baskets for the second half. All overtime periods are considered
extensions of the second half.
c. Five sides of the backboard (front, two sides, bottom and top) are considered in play
when contacted by the basketball. The back of the backboard and the area directly behind it
are out-of-bounds.


Section II—Dribble

A dribble is movement of the ball, caused by a player in control, who throws or taps the
ball to the floor.

a. The dribble ends when the dribbler:

      1. Touches the ball simultaneously with both hands
      2. Permits the ball to come to rest while he is in control of it
      3. Tries for a field goal
      4. Throws a pass
      5. Touches the ball more than once while dribbling, before it touches the floor
      6. Loses control
      7. Allows the ball to become dead
      8. Otherwise gathers the ball (see Rule IV, Section III (b))

Section III – The Gather

  1. For a player who receives the ball via a pass or gains possession of a loose ball, the gather is defined as the point where the player gains enough control of the ball to hold it, change hands, pass, shoot, or the player cradles the ball against his body.
  2. For a player who is in control of the ball while dribbling, the gather is defined as the point where a player does any one of the following:(1) Puts two hands on the ball, or otherwise permits the ball to come to rest, while he is in control of it;
      1. Puts two hands on the ball, or otherwise permits the ball to come to rest, while he is in control of it;
      2. Puts a hand under the ball and brings it to a pause;
      3. Otherwise gains enough control of the ball to hold it, change hands, pass, shoot, or the player cradles the ball against his body.


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Section IV—Fouls

a. A common personal foul is illegal physical contact which occurs with an opponent
after the ball has become live and before the horn sounds to end the period. If time expires
before the personal foul occurs, the personal foul should be disregarded, unless it was

EXCEPTION: If the foul is committed on or by a player in the act of shooting, and the
shooter released the ball prior to the expiration of time on the game clock, then the foul
should be administered in the same manner as with any similar play during the course of the
game (See Rule 13—Section II—b—ii).

b. A technical foul is the penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct or violations by team
members on the floor or seated on the bench.
c. A double foul is a situation in which any two opponents commit personal fouls at
approximately the same time.
d. An offensive foul is illegal contact, committed by an offensive player, after the ball
is live and there is team control.
e. A loose ball foul is illegal contact, after the ball is alive, when team control does
not exist.
f. A flagrant foul is unnecessary and/or excessive contact committed by a player against
an opponent whether the ball is dead or alive.
g. A punching foul is a punch by a player which makes contact with an opponent
whether the ball is dead or alive.
h. An away-from-the-play foul is illegal contact by the defense (1) in the last two
minutes of each period, and last two minutes of any overtime periods, which occurs deliberately
away from the immediate area of offensive action, or (2) prior to the ball being released on a
throw-in at any point during the entire game.




Section V—Free Throw

A free throw is the privilege given a player to score one point by an unhindered attempt
for the goal from a position directly behind the free throw line. This attempt must be made
within 10 seconds.


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Section VI—Frontcourt/Backcourt

a. A team’s frontcourt consists of that part of the court between its endline and the
nearer edge of the midcourt line, including the basket and inbounds part of the backboard.
b. A team’s backcourt consists of the entire midcourt line and the rest of the court to
include the opponent’s basket and inbounds part of the backboard.
c. A ball being held by a player: (1) is in the frontcourt if neither the ball nor the player
is touching the backcourt, (2) is in the backcourt if either the ball or player is touching the
d. A ball being dribbled is (1) in the frontcourt when the ball and both feet of the player
are in the frontcourt, (2) in the backcourt if the ball or either foot of the player is in the
e. The ball is considered in the frontcourt once it has broken the plane of the midcourt
line and is not in player control.
f. The team on offense must bring the ball across the midcourt line within 8 seconds.

EXCEPTION: (1) kicked ball, (2) punched ball, (3) personal or technical foul on the
defensive team, (4) delay-of-game warning on the defensive team or (5) infection control.

g. Frontcourt/backcourt status is not attained until a player with the ball has established
a positive position in either half during (1) a jump ball, (2) a steal by a defensive player,
(3) a throw-in in the last two minutes of the fourth period and last two minutes of any
overtime period or (4) any time the ball is loose.



Section VII—Held Ball

A held ball occurs when two opponents have one or both hands firmly on the ball or
when a defensive player touches the ball causing the offensive player to return to the floor
with the ball in his continuous possession which would result in a traveling violation.

A held ball should not be called until both players have hands so firmly on the ball that
neither can gain sole possession without undue roughness. If a player is lying or sitting on
the floor while in possession, he should have an opportunity to throw the ball.

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Section VIII—Pivot

a. A pivot takes place when a player, who is holding the ball, steps once or more
than once in any direction with the same foot, with the other foot (pivot foot) in contact with
the floor.
b. If the player wishes to dribble after a pivot, the ball must be out of his hand before
the pivot foot is raised off the floor. If the player raises his pivot off the floor, he must pass or
attempt a field goal before the foot is returned to the floor.

If he fails to follow these guidelines, he has committed a traveling violation.


Section IX—Traveling

Traveling is progressing in any direction while in possession of the ball, which is in
excess of prescribed limits as noted in Rule 4—Section VII and Rule 10—Section XIII.



Section X—Screen

A screen is the legal action of a player who, without causing undue contact, delays or
prevents an opponent from reaching a desired position.




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Section XI—Field Goal Attempt

A field goal attempt is a player’s attempt to shoot the ball into his basket for a field
goal. The act of shooting starts when, in the official’s judgment, the player has started his
shooting motion and continues until the shooting motion ceases and he returns to a normal
floor position. For jump shots, the shooting motion starts when the offensive player starts to
bring the ball upward towards the basket. On drives to the basket or other moving shots, the
shooting motion starts when the player gathers the ball and continues through with a shot
(except during a take foul situation when the clocks are not expiring, the shooting begins
when the player’s shoulders start upward). It is not essential that the ball leave the shooter’s
hand. His arm(s) might be held so that he cannot actually make an attempt.

The term is also used to include the flight of the ball until it becomes dead or is touched
by a player. A tap during a jump ball or rebound is not considered a field goal attempt. However,
anytime a live ball is in flight toward the rim from the playing court, the goal, if made,
shall count, even if time expires or the official’s whistle sounds. The field goal will not be
scored if time on the game clock expires before the ball leaves the player’s hand or the ball
is in flight toward the rim.

Section XII—Throw-In

A throw-in is a method of putting the ball in play from out-of-bounds in accordance
with Rule 8—Section III. The throw-in begins when the ball is given to and controlled by
the player inbounding, or at his disposal, and ends when the ball is released.

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Section XIII—Last Two Minutes

When the game clock shows 2:00, the period is considered to be in the two-minute


Section XIV—Suspension of Play

An official can suspend play for retrieving an errant ball, re-setting the timing devices,
delay-of-game warning, inadvertent whistle, instant replay, a seriously-injured player or any
other unusual circumstance. During such a suspension, neither team is permitted to substitute
and the defensive team may not be granted a timeout. Play shall be resumed at the point of

(1) Suspension of play for a player bleeding. See Comments on the Rules—N.
(2) Seriously-injured player. Player must be removed and opponent is permitted one

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Section XV—Point of Interruption

The Point of Interruption is where the ball is located when the whistle sounds.


Section XVI—Team Control

A team is in control when a player is holding, dribbling or passing the ball. Team
control ends when the defensive team deflects the ball or there is a field goal attempt.

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Section XVII—Team Possession

A team is in possession when a player is holding, dribbling or passing the ball. Team
possession ends when the defensive team gains possession or the ball hits the rim of the
offensive team.


Section XVIII—Fumble

A player who is holding the ball and fumbles it out of his control may recover the ball.
If his pivot foot moves to recover the ball, he must then pass or shoot the ball. If he fumbles
and recovers it without moving his pivot foot and before the ball touches the floor, he retains
his status before the fumble.

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