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Basketball Instruction/Violations and fouls



I have two questions for you:

1. does the 3 sec violation only apply to the offensive team when they are in the paint, or can the defensive players also commit the violation?

2. This really confuses me. How can one judge whether a collision was a charging foul or a blocking foul? What are the attributes and factors that one should look out for judging it? (I'm thorough with the technical rules regarding both the fouls, but find it very challenging to guess which one occurred.)

Thanks in advance and have a good day.

ANSWER: Hi Ashish,

Thank you for your questions.

1. In High School, there is only a violation for the offense being in the paint for 3 seconds. Same with College. The NBA is the only level at which there is a defensive 3 second violation as well. It is possible that International rules have the 3 second defensive violation too, but I'm not 100% sure of that.

2. I'm not going to go over exactly how the rule book defines a charge or Offensive foul versus a block, so I'll try to explain it as best I can. The block/charge call can be one of the toughest call for an official to make. Not just because the call needs to be made in a split second, but also because there are several variables that play a role. For example, was the defender in position when the contact was made? one major factor has to do with whether or not the defender is in what's called "Legal guarding position". A player is in legal guarding position when he/she has both feet on the ground,  both feet are in-bounds, and the defender is facing the offensive player. This is probably the most important factor an official looks at as contact is made. Secondly, did the defender beat the offensive player to his/or her spot on the floor as the offensive player makes contact with the defender. Third, does the offensive player's contact, cause the defender to be "displaced" or moved off his/her position on the floor.  If the answer is yes to all three, then 99.9% of the time it should be a charging call.  On many occasions, however, only 1 or 2 of those criteria are met. For example, a player might be in legal guarding position but was late getting to his/her spot as the offensive player drives to the basket, causing contact, and therefore a blocking call should be made.  

One important factor that gets miss-interpreted many times, is its thought the defender must be stationary in order to draw a charge. This is not necessarily true. A defender can be moving and still draw a charge if the offensive player is deemed to be out of control and/or drives right through the offensive player, or does not make an attempt to avoid the contact.

So as you can see there can be several scenarios, however I hope I cleared up the basics for you. Feel free to ask a follow up question(s) if necessary.

Thanks again for your question.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for replying soon. So what I understand based on your explanation is that for a charging foul to occur, the defensive player should have occupied the legal guarding position before the collision took place in that position, even though he or she isn't stationary. Do correct me if I missed out or misunderstood something about this, as it seems to be a pretty complicated foul.

I have also come across a foul known as the reach-in foul. From what I have observed, it seems that when a player is dribbling, you as the defensive player cannot tap the ball out of his dribbling. If you could explain this too, it would be great.

And I am sorry for shooting so many lengthy questions to you.


Your interpretation is almost 100% correct. The defensive player must be "IN" legal guarding position,  and have occupied his/her space prior to the contact being made.  Generally speaking the defender does need to be stationary but there are times in which it's not always necessary.  Here is an example. Defender is standing in the middle of the paint. The offensive player drives hard to the basket and the defender begins to back pedal to avoid contact, but the offensive player continues to drive right through the defender, without attempting to avoid contact. This would be a player control foul or a charge even though the defenders feet were moving. A defender may not impede the progress of the offensive player or it's a blocking foul.

You are right in saying it's a complicated foul. Like I mentioned before, it's probably the toughest call an official has to make.

As far as the reach-in foul, there really is no such thing. A defender may reach in and poke the ball from the player as long as the defender does not make contact with that offensive player that causes he/she to lose possession. If they do it's simply a common foul, and reported to the scorer's table as a "hit" or "illegal contact".   I want you to remember the concept of advantage/disadvantage. If a player commits an action on the court that puts them or their team at an advantage while putting the opposing team at a disadvantage, then either a foul or violation must be called.

I hope that helps, and please don't apologize for asking long or detailed questions. That's why I volunteer on this website, because I enjoy sharing my knowledge and experience.

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Bret Temple


My expertise is in the craft of Officiating Basketball and I can answer questions pertaining to basketball rules; youth level through CIF High School, NCAA college and NBA rules as well. I can either help define a specific rule for you, or interpret a specific rule to clarify how other officials and I view and call the game.


I have been a Basketball Official now for over 19 years, officiating at all levels. I have attended numerous training camps throughout the years in an attempt to constantly become a better official. I have been evaluated by top Officiating organizations and Assignors, and I've had the fortunate experience to officiate former Division 1 and NBA players.

NASO (National Association of Sports Officials) CBOA (California Basketball Officials Association)

El Sorrino Officials Association Accreditation CIF Certified(California Interscholastic Federation)

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Los Angeles City Parks and Recreation, Calabasas Basketball League, Calabasas Semi-Pro Men's League, AYBA, California Interscholatic Federation, ARC League , Gary Grant Youth Basketball Program

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