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Instant replay: Complicated basketball rules can be confusing

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Instant replay: Complicated basketball rules can be confusing
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("Instant Replay" is a new weekly column which will appear in Sunday's Detroit Lakes Tribune. It will be written and be headed by Terry Eiter, the President and Assigner of the Referee Association. Each week, he will write out a real occurrence during a sporting event and explain the ruling. Also included at times will be new rules and "points of emphasis"?in sports.


Readers can ask Eiter questions about certain rules or about a play which occurred during a prep athletic event by emailing him at

I received a few e-mails recently asking for some clarification on some basketball situations.

It's been my experience that there are some basic fundamental rules of basketball that many just simply don't understand.

While they seem simple enough, many can be a bit more complicated.

We'll focus on some of the basics: 3 seconds in the lane, over and back and traveling this week.

Three seconds in the lane is a violation that occurs less frequently each year.

With the types of offenses ran and the mobility of players, it just doesn't happen much.

A couple of clarifications on 3 seconds - first of all a 3-second count does not begin until Team A (the offensive team) advances the ball into their front court (the half of the court they are shooting at).

So any Team A player can stand in the lane as long as they want if the ball has not yet crossed halfcourt.

Secondly, if the ball is being inbounded by Team A in their frontcourt (under their basket, for example) the count does not begin until the ball is throw in bounds and touched, thus any Team A player can stand in the lane for as long as they want while the ball is being inbounded.

Third, a new 3-second count starts over with each new shot attempted.

Thus a Team A player can shoot several shots, get the rebound (in the lane) and not be in jeopardy of a 3 second violation.

Lastly, a player who was in the lane for less than 3 seconds, then secures the ball and dribbles toward the basket is given an allowance of more time if he/she is attempting to score.

A major change to the over and back violation occurred several years ago that still confuses some.

The change said that in order to be an over and back violation that all "3 points" needed to across the division line before a violation could occur.

The "3 points" referred to are both feet of the ball handler (points 1 and 2) and the ball itself (point 3).

All 3 points must cross the division line or no violation can occur.

With the change in the rule it also abolished any over and back violation during throw-ins -- during a throw in the division line (half-court line) does not exist until the ball is in control in bounds.

Some of the nuances of traveling in basketball are difficult to explain in person, let alone in words. Some of the situations look (and seem) like traveling, but in reality are not -- and vice-versa.

The section on traveling in the Rules Book would be difficult for most to read and comprehend after one reading.

Often with traveling, the key is to determine which foot is the pivot foot -- or if there is a legal pivot foot at all. (some times there isn't).

Here is your opportunity to "make the call" in some interesting basketball situations. See the correct rulings at the end.

SITUATION 1: A1 rebounds the ball off of Team B's backboard. A2 is on the other end of the court in the 3-second lane (basket he is shooting at). He remains there for the next 8 seconds as Team A players advance the ball up court to the division line). Is this a 3-second violation on A2?

SITUATION 2: Player A1 is standing with one foot outside of the lane and one foot inside the lane. He/she periodically lifts one foot out of the lane but doesn't move anywhere else or touch the foot outside the lane. Is this a 3-second violation?

SITUATION 3: A1 is advancing the ball up court from the backcourt towards the frontcourt. Near the division line and still dribbling, A1 advances across the division line with one foot and dribbles the ball an in the frontcourt. A1 continues the dribble and goes back to the backcourt. Is this over and back?

SITUATION 4: A1 passes to A2 and the ball is deflected by B1. While the ball is loose, B2 dives for the ball and slides with the ball for several feet on the floor. Is this traveling?

SITUATION 5: A1 is passing to A2. B2 steps in and deflects the pass and (A) secures possession after fumbling the ball once, (B) secures possession after fumbling the ball 3 times without it striking the floor or (C) secures possession after fumbling the ball and it rolls on the floor. Are any of these situations traveling?

SITUATION 1 RULING: It is not a violation as the 3-second violation count does not start until Team A has the ball in their own frontcourt.

SITUATION 2 RULING: It is a violation as merely lifting the foot is an attempt to evade the rule and avoid its purpose.

SITUATION 3 RULING: It is not a violation as only two of the "3 points" crossed the division line into the front court.

SITUATION 4 RULING: This one is often misunderstood. It is not traveling, as B2 had not established a pivot "point" yet.

B2 can pass the ball or shoot the ball from the floor. He / she may not roll with the ball or attempt to get up with the ball -- it would then be traveling.

SITUATION 5 RULING: Another often misunderstood rule. None of these situations are traveling.

Simply put, a player cannot travel unless he/she first has gained control of the ball. If they have not first gained control of the ball, there cannot be traveling.

If a player taps the ball and in the judgment of the official there was "control" then it would be a traveling violation.