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A Basketball Rules Fundamental:


"Contact after the ball has become dead is ignored unless it is ruled... [contact] is committed by or on an airborn shooter".

-NFHS, National Federation of High School Assocations


Calling “FOUL!”   

We know it’s easy to call an offensive charge or defensive foul before a score occurs.  But knowing how to call and administer a foul after the ball has already gone in the basket is a Big Ref Problem.  In the case that this particular kind of player-control foul, which happens during the attempt for a score is officiated correctly, the defense will feel rewarded for good position, and the offense will be less likely to be over zealous or rough in their style of play, keeping all the athletes safer and yielding a better overall game atmosphere. 

The NFHS Basketball handbook explains the rule: "If the ball goes through the basket before or after a player-control foul, the goal shall not be counted." 

If a goal is made by the shooter, it may be tempting to ignore subsequent contact by the offense on the defense. However, simply ignoring the subsequent contact is incorrect.  Although the ball becomes "dead" upon a made attempt, the action on the floor is still going on.  Momentum by the offensive shooter and positioning by the defender on the shooter is important to continue to monitor both during and after the shot. 

If an airborn shooter initiates contact on a defender who has established a legal guarding position before the contact, the shooter is guilty of a player-control, personal, common foul. 

As stated by the handbook, "Personal fouls have three characteristics.  They involve:

  1. contact;
  2. one or more players from each team;
  3. occur during a live ball, except a dead-ball player control foul by an airborn shooter." 

The philosophy behind the exception to calling personal fouls only during a live-ball situation is two-fold:

First, a player who commits such a foul has put the opposing team at a disadvantage, and thus the offended team must be compensated in some way;  once a dead-ball, player control foul is observed, the referee's call must reward the defense for good position (assess a player-control foul) and punish the offense for illegal charging (disallow the basket). 

Secondly, calling and administering this type of foul will discourage rough or out-of-control play by the offense, thereby keeping the game under control.

    Assessing fouls during live ball situations should be second nature to a basketball official, since these are most common.  When a less common, player-control foul occurs, even after a successful try, make sure to take the proper steps to disallow the score because of the illegal charge committed by the offensive player.  A referee who understands the exception to Rule 4-19-1 and is able to enforce the rule will have better control over the conduct of the players.