What Is Goaltending In Basketball? Detailed Example

Just when you thought you made a solid defense move when you blocked that shot, you were called upon committing a violation instead.

Perhaps it was an honest rookie mistake, but regardless, your entire team must suffer the penalty incurred when you commit a goaltending violation.

So, what is goaltending in basketball?

Goaltending in basketball is a term that refers to a violation a player commits when he attempts to illegally block a shot that has a reasonable chance to get into the basket successfully. For instance, the ball is above the rim, moving towards a downward trajectory.

What Exactly is Goaltending in Basketball?

Goaltending vs. not goaltending

In a nutshell, goaltending is an illegal interference of an attempted shot with a reasonable chance of successfully passing through the hoop. If you’re playing on the defense side, you’re not allowed to touch the ball during the offense’s attempted shot when it’s directly above the basket ring or within the rim’s imaginary cylinder.

You’re also not allowed to deter the shot if the ball has touched any part of the backboard, whether above or below ring level, and going on either an upward or downward flight. And, of course, it’s also illegal to touch the ball that’s already going through the ring.

In addition to these scenarios, you’ll also be charged with goaltending when you attempt to vibrate and shake the net, rim, or backboard to deter the ball from passing through the hoop.

Why is Goaltending Illegal?

Shot with hands up

So, we now know what goaltending is in basketball. But why is it considered illegal? Can’t that be considered a legitimate defense strategy?

To answer that, we’ll go back to basics. Basketball leagues have established regulations to give each team a fair chance to score, keep everyone experiencing a reasonable amount of challenge, and finish the game within a limited timeframe.

Just imagine what would happen if there wasn’t a shot clock. Maybe each game will take forever to finish that it’s such a burden to watch, not to mention exhausting to the players.

Using the analogy, imagine if there wasn’t a rule on goaltending. If the other team has tall, huge players who leap as if they’re gliding in the air, do you think the other team that’s composed of shorter, slimmer players will ever get a chance to score if these huge guys are allowed to do just about anything to block a shot? Not likely.

That said, it’s just right and fair to consider goaltending as an illegal move in basketball. It keeps the defense’s role extra challenging. And on top of that, everybody gets a fair chance to see their attempted baskets going in successfully.

What is the Penalty for Goaltending in Basketball?

Would it hurt the entire team if a player unwittingly commits goaltending? Yes. If the violation has been proven true, note that the offended team will not be awarded free throw shots, but points will be automatically added to their score!

How does that work? For example, if the shot was attempted within the two-point shot area, the offended team will automatically get two points as if the ball made its way through the basket.

And the consequence would much hurt the offending party if it was a three-point shot that was attempted. Yup, you guessed that right. The offended team automatically receives three points!

The goaltending rule also applies during a free throw attempt. If you’re too early for a rebound, you’ll likely be called out for goaltending. The offended team will receive one point, and you’ll be called out for a technical foul.

What is the Difference between Basket Interference and Goaltending?

Blocked shot

Some basketball enthusiasts are confused about whether or not basket interference and goaltending are the same.

In terms of the nature of these violations, these are indeed closely related. But whether a violation is defined as basket interference or goaltending will depend on the ball’s position within the basket area.

For a violation to fall under goaltending, a player must interfere with the shot while the ball goes down through the hoop.

On the other hand, if a player interferes with the shot while the ball is within the imaginary cylinder or deliberately pushes it so that it gets trapped between the backboard and the rim, the scenario will fall under basket interference.

Another example of basket interference is when a player purposely interferes with the natural bounce of the ball by shaking the rim, net, or backboard.

When was Goaltending Made a Rule in the NBA?

Defensive goaltending was already part of the rules stipulated in the first rulebook that the NBA released when it was founded in 1947.

The rules on goaltending were further amended and expanded in 1958 when the league officially banned offensive goaltending.

For reference, offensive goaltending happens when a player from the offense purposely helps the ball go through the basket by moving the rim down by any means. The offending team would receive no points if the shot were successful. In addition, the offensive goaltending violation will also result in ball turnover.

Going back to the history of goaltending in basketball, the NBA isn’t the pioneer in specifying this in their rulebook as one of the violations. It was the NCAA that first banned goaltending in the games. But establishing the rule also took a long time.

It was in 1944 when goaltending officially became a violation in the NCAA. The purpose is to level the playing field, considering that disproportion in height and built among the players is inevitable.

What is the Hand Signal for Goaltending in Basketball?

If the referee catches a goaltending violation, he blows his whistle, raises his right arm in the air, and his hand does a tapping signal or, sometimes, a clenched fist signal.

Points will then be added to the offended team’s score. Two points if the shot was attempted within the two-point area, three if the attempted shot was a three-point, and one if it was a free throw.

3 Simple But Effective Tips to Avoid Goaltending

Man blocking another player

We’ve understood so far what is goaltending in basketball and the penalty that the entire team will suffer if a teammate commits this violation. What can you do to avoid this violation and the inconvenience it will bring to your team? We’ve listed down some handy tips.

1. Always keep in mind the rules

Even if your goal is to beef up your defense strategy, it’s always important to play fairly by the rules. So even during team practice, players should play as if they’re already in the actual game, keeping in mind all the rules. These include the goaltending or basket interference rules.

Coaches should keep an eye on the violations that their players unwittingly commit, mainly if rookie members exist. Call them out for violations as if it’s in the actual game and impose the penalty so they can experience it firsthand and most likely remember the rule before they step into the actual game.

2. Timing is crucial

Some defenders commit goaltending violations because their timing wasn’t right when they attempted a legal move. It could be that they were too late to do a legal block or too excited to make a rebound. Either way, a player must know how to time his moves accurately.

Also, he needs to be fully in the moment. Be mindful and quickly act when the time is right for a legal block or rebound.

3. Play by the rules when you’re in the offense

As mentioned, an offensive player might also commit goaltending if he’s not careful. Especially when a player becomes too aggressive in making a shot successful, he might be determined to do so by all means, even if that means altering the ball’s natural bounce by pulling or pushing the rim downward to help it get through the hoop.

If you’re playing in the offense, be careful not to do this. Otherwise, your entire team will be penalized. Remember, you could lose to your opponent by just one point!

Final Words

There are legal ways to block a shot. But to level the playing field, some limitations were put in place regarding blocking. Goaltending is one of those.

That said, remember to beef up your defense tactics, but always remember to play by the rules. Time your moves accurately. And even if you’re in the offense and badly want to win, focus on the ball and get your hands off the rim.

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