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Basketball Goaltending – Signal | Rules & Interference [2024]

Last Updated April 22, 2024 Last Updated February 21, 2024 by Brian Aquino

Goaltending is an act in basketball sport that includes preventing an opponent from scoring by touching the ball while it is in flight above the rim. There’s a lot of confusion if goaltending is legal or not, but it is commonly associated with players blocking shots on defense. However, basketball goaltending has been declared illegal according to the latest rules.

In recent years, the rule has been increasingly enforced, resulting in more missed shots due to fair gameplay. The play stops immediately upon a signal given by an official when goaltending occurs. If you are a basketball player looking to protect your team’s lead or prevent a loss, learning the rules and how to properly defend against goaltending can be the difference between winning and losing.

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basketball goaltending

Basketball Goaltending Signal

basketball goaltending signalBasketball goaltending is called when a player touches the ball while it is in flight towards the rim. Any contact after that point by an offensive player would result in a goaltend, but during this time period any defensive contact with the ball would not be considered goaltending. If two opponents are going for a rebound and one player blocks another’s shot attempt, this would not be goaltending because it came after initial possession was gained by one of them.

Goaltending can only be called on defense so attempting to block or alter an opponent’s can’t be called on offense even if goaltending is committed. A player who commits a goaltend will be charged with a personal foul and possession for the opposing team will go to whichever side was previously going to gain possession after a made basket.

If the goal was scored, it will count and no penalty will be given. For example, if a player is going up for a shot attempt and jumps from inside the free throw line extended and someone clips their wrist from behind, this would not be considered goaltending because there’s no chance that they could have landed on both feet before touching the ball.


Basketball Goaltending Rules

A clearer guideline as to what is or isn’t considered illegal goaltending can be found in Article 12 Section X of FIBA International Basketball Rules:basketball goaltending rules

“It is goaltending if:

  1. when the ball is above the rim, a player touches it when any part of his hand is above the plane of the ring; or
  2. after the ball has touched the ring, a player raises it in such a way that its bottom becomes higher than 1.15 m (3ft-9in) above the floor; or
  3. when an opponent catches and throws or dribbles immediately after catching it, all or part of his hand holding the ball is over and below the plane of the ring.”

There is also this excerpt from a discussion in Sec XIX in NBA Rules: “When an offensive player leaves his feet to attempt a field goal from directly beneath the ring, he must have both feet, or his other foot (the pivot foot), firmly on the floor outside the circle. If the offensive player jumps from inside the circle and lands with anything but both feet or his pivot foot outside the circle, then a goal tending situation is presumed to have occurred.”

Anytime a goaltend is committed, possession for that team will be awarded at the nearest spot where play was interrupted. Since goaltending is a violation, a shot clock reset foul may also be called if it’s determined that the defense would have been able to get set before another try could have been attempted.


Basket Interference vs Goaltending

While both are illegal because you cannot touch the ball while it is in flight, there’s a key difference between basket interference and goaltending. Basket interference occurs when an offensive player touches the ball or rim while it is on its downward arc toward the goal. Goaltending takes place after this point when any part of an opponent’s hand is above the plane of the ring. The only way that basket interference could result in a goaltend call as if it happened during a tap-in attempt right before one player touched the ball.basket ball interference

To put all of this into real world terms, any time someone jumps up to block shots they are trying to prevent goaltending from happening. Understanding how goaltending works can give them an advantage by knowing if they were successful or not. Defensive players can also use this knowledge to try and trick their opponents into committing goaltending violations by acting like they are going for a shot or trying to catch it before play would be interrupted.

As long as the ball is within “the paint” nobody can touch it until it comes back down, but once it leaves the rim nothing is allowed unless there is no chance of them affecting its flight path or having any involvement in keeping possession. Goaltending is only considered when both sides are competing for the ball within the cylinder so simply touching an opponent’s arm while they try to make a layup won’t result in anything happening.

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Basketball Offensive Goaltending Rules

Though goaltending is still considered illegal, there are different rules for when it happens on offense. Since the ball can’t be played underneath the net, it’s up to the offensive player who jumps before release to place themselves on either side of the rim so that they are able to follow their shot attempt. If an opposing player hasn’t jumped yet or doesn’t land correctly, you’ll often see them reach over and tap the ball away at some point. This isn’t considered goaltending unless one of their hands passes above where the cylinder would be located if they were standing still instead of jumping vertically with their back to the goal.

This rule also applies when a defensive player tries to catch a pass from under the basket and immediately lifts up in an attempt to score. If they aren’t in or above the cylinder when the ball touches their hands it’s not goaltending, but if they are and simply drop it before releasing a shot it will be called despite only having one foot on the floor since they were caught doing something illegal.

The last thing about offensive goaltending that most fans don’t realize is that you can jump from inside the circle to block shots without fear of any consequences as long as you land with both feet outside. This rule was created for players who like to set up shots directly under the basket so this is essentially an extension of what used to be goaltending.

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Basketball Defensive Goaltending Rules

The rule that governs players defending shots is different depending on where they are standing when the shot attempt happens. Anything outside of a one foot radius in front of goal, both hands can legally touch anything above where the cylinder would be located while jumping vertically with their back to goal at any time, but once inside it’s considered illegal until they land or release a shot. Blocking shots against fast breaks is always legal since this isn’t specifically allowing offensive goaltending which might give them an unfair advantage.

It doesn’t matter what position ball defenders are playing or where they jump from as long as everything is done within their own half of the court. Since this area is technically part of the playing area, players that follow their own shot may legally block it even when they are outside the one foot radius in front of the goal.

If a player runs towards an opponent who has released a shot before time expires and jumps vertically to try and alter its trajectory while their hands are below where the cylinder would be if both feet were out in front of them, it will still be goaltending since you can’t touch anything off limits when you are considered defending no matter when contact is made during the shot attempt.

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Why is Goaltending Illegal?

The main reason goaltending is illegal in basketball has to do with fairness. Players are assigned specific offensive and defensive roles, but when goaltending is allowed there’s a chance that it might make something an offense should be punished for into something they can get away with. This is why you’ll never see any expert teams attempt this strategy during normal play because it takes an extraordinary amount of talent to pull off without getting caught or hurting them in some way.


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When was Goaltending Made a Rule in the NBA

Goaltending was made a rule in the NBA on June 10, 1944. In the past, it used to be legal if completely unintentional so players had better get their timing down when blocking shots without jumping outside of their own half of the court.

Today we know that goaltending is illegal in basketball and always has been (except in FIBA until the mid-60s and WNBA until 2014 where they called it goaltending but let players set up shop directly under our basket as they used to when this was still legal). Although there is some confusion among regular fans about when players can or can’t touch certain things during field goal attempts. There are even some professional teams who break these rules purposely with no consequence since they know it’s never going to be called and get away with it.

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Final Verdict

Now that you know all about how goaltending is defined, what it looks like, and when it’s allowed. We hope you have a better understanding of this tricky subject. Even though this strategy is no longer legal in NBA, FIBA or the WNBA, you can see evidence of it being used as a successful part of an offensive attack during tournaments.

Just make sure to follow all local rules and regulations before attempting to use goaltending as a way to gain an advantage over your opponent.

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Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQs)

What is goaltending in basketball?

Goaltending is defined as an act in basketball sport where a player touches the ball while it is above the rim and inside the cylinder if both of their feet are out in front of them.


What are the rules of goaltending?

The rules state that a player is allowed to touch anything off limits during a field goal attempt as long as their feet are out in front of them. In this case, the back of the player’s hands can touch anything off limits even though they are vertically jumping with their back to the goal.


Is goaltending illegal in basketball?

Yes, goaltending was made illegal according to the latest rules set by FIBA and NBA.


What is the penalty for goaltending in basketball?

Well, it depends on if the goaltending was an attempt to block a field goal or a pass. If it is used as a way to block a shot then you are going to get called for goaltending and the other team will get two free throws plus possession of the ball.

On the other hand, if goaltending was used during play when it wasn’t supposed to they would still call goaltending but not send anyone to free throw line since this wouldn’t be using the safety net built into the game. If this happens, they’ll most likely put you at their spot closest to where your original violation took place instead of giving them two points.