Comments on Hand Checking, Post Play and Bench Decorum




Hand-checking is the "illegal" use of the hand(s)/arm(s) to impede/influence the movement/progress of an opponent​​ with or without the ball. A defensive player may not place his hand/forearm upon an opponent with the intention of holding or pushing (steering) that player. To momentarily place a hand/forearm upon an opponent is not necessarily illegal unless the action​​ is constantly repeated. A verbal warning should always be given in order to prevent the illegal action from taking place.


Under no circumstances may the defensive player place two hands upon an opponent, even within his cylinder.​​ 


A defensive player FACING his opponent has no legal reason to place his hand/forearm upon an opponent, as defense is played with the feet. A post player may place a forearm (within his own cylinder) on the back of an opponent, but the first and only contact must be with the forearm or the chest/stomach. This also applies to a player defending a dribbler who is backing into (not facing) the basket, the first and only contact must be with the forearm or the chest/stomach.


The use of the forearm or chest/stomach must not dislodge​​ or push the opposing player from his position. Similarly, an offensive player dribbling the ball is not permitted to use a hand/forearm to prevent his defensive opponent from legally "stealing" the ball. If hand-checking is not penalized then players will​​ react aggressively thereby creating loss of game control, even momentarily. ​​ Under no circumstances may the defensive player place two hands upon an opponent even within his own cylinder.


Officials should be aware of situations when hand-checking could take place:


1. At moments in the game when aggressive and/or pressing defense is applied.


2. When players are tired and "cheat" on defense by using hands instead of moving their feet.


3. In defensive mismatch situations where the offensive player is​​ clearly quicker, taller and​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ stronger than the defensive player, especially during initial moments of the start of a dribble.


4. During "isolation" plays (one v one) as above and on any drive to the basket.




Offensive and defensive players​​ have equal rights to any position that they have legally established on the court. Post play should be viewed and anticipated as a physical (not rough) match-up between two opponents, especially big players.


Incidental contact between post players is to be expected, but the use of hands, arms and/or legs/knees to push and dislodge opponents is not permitted. A defensive post player may place his leg/knee in between the legs of a stationary opponent in order to maintain position, but if that leg/knee is raised off the floor, or impedes the movement of, or dislodges the opponent then a foul should be called. ​​ 


A defensive post player may place a forearm or chest/stomach on the back of his opponent. At no time may​​ both hands be placed upon an opponent. Once the defensive post player has established a legal guarding position, he cannot be dislodged from that position by the actions of the offensive player in lowering his body and "bumping" his opponent towards the basket.


Neither can the offensive player grab an opponent's leg or "hook" his body whilst turning, either to shoot or receive a pass under the basket. Excessive physical play to dislodge a player from a legally established position must not be allowed. ​​ Pay attention to players who interlock​​ arms when jostling for position. Warn the player, who initiates the arm-locking and if there is no response, call the foul. Watch the whole play from the beginning in order to determine who created the illegal contact, otherwise call a double foul. There​​ can be no "let them play" attitude when the contact is excessive or rough.


Rough play in post play situations is likely to occur when:


1. The offensive player has dislodged the defensive player from a legal position on the floor.


2. The offensive player​​ has the ball and his opponent is allowed to use his hands, extended​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ forearm, knees or upraised leg into the buttocks.


3. The offensive player lowers his buttocks and pushes backwards, also using his hands and​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ arms to dislodge his opponent.


4.​​ The offensive player signals to receive a pass or lob pass and then uses his arms in a "swim-

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ stroke" to push the defenders arms away or by using his elbow or extended forearm to "pin"​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ and dislodge his opponent.


5. The offensive player may not​​ use his elbow to push away the defensive player's hand(s) in

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ order to protect a shooting attempt.


Be aware of any situations that may create potential violence between opponents or attempts to deceive officials by 'flopping', either by the defensive player or a shooting player.




The proper conduct of the game demands full and loyal cooperation of the members of both teams (players, coaches, assistant coaches, and team followers) with the officials, table officials and commissioner. ​​ Officials have been encouraged to communicate fully with players and coaches during the game and have also received much information by way of documents, videos and personal training in order to understand the roles and behaviour of players and coaches during emotional encounters. Cooperation is a two way system and must be based upon mutual respect and normal behaviour.




1. For a coach or player to make an objectionable reaction by words or gestures to an official's​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ call.


2. For a coach or player to direct audible personal remarks of an abusive or vulgar nature to the​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ officials.


3. For a coach or player to excessively demonstrate by the use of referees signals (travelling,​​ 

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ holding, verticality etc.) or gestures that could indicate displeasure with the officiating.


4. For a coach, assistant coach, player or team follower to incite the crowd by means of gestures

 ​​ ​​ ​​​​ showing their disagreement with the officials.


5. For a coach to leave the coaching box and enter the court to remonstrate with an official.


In such situations, it is essential that a technical foul is not given immediately, but that a clear definitive warning is given to the offending person(s). Dealing with such incidents should be progressive, but firm and not an emotional reaction. Such behaviour should not be tolerated on a continuous basis. Any further misbehavior after the warning must be dealt with in a calm professional manner.


We do not wish officials to inflame the situations by​​ overreacting, but we cannot accept that the integrity of the officials is continually called into question by players, coaches and bench personnel. ​​ Take care of business before business takes care of you.