What Is The Restricted Area In Basketball?

Restricted Area Basketball

The "restricted area" rule in basketball, established to protect players and aid referees, prevents defenders from positioning beneath players attempting layups to avoid dangerous collisions. Its importance lies in ensuring fair play and reducing referee guesswork in calling charges, contributing to a safer and more efficient basketball game worldwide.

Have you ever heard of a game with no rules? Most probably, the answer would be No! Because games come with a different set of rules and just like other games, basketball also has a bunch of rules. One such rule is “the restricted area” rule, which is also referred to as the “restricted area arc.”

This rule was introduced to emphasize the importance of distance between the basket and the defender. Two of the most important reasons behind this rule are ensuring players’ safety and giving the advantage of making the right decision to the referee.

Player’s Safety

The restricted area aims to save players from any dangerous play like a defender sneaking into a position beneath another player and undercutting them by jumping for a layup. It is to protect the offensive players while dribbling towards the rim.

Through the restricted area, if the ball carrier drives past the original defender, the secondary defender will stop from moving ahead of the basket. In case of collision, if any of the defensive players has their feet above or inside the restricted area, a charging foul cannot be called on the opposite offensive player.

Through this rule, the player must not have any of his feet inside the semi-circle before a player from the opponent team runs into him, which can cause the charge.

A Great Advantage For Referee

During the game, it is challenging for the basketball referee to find which player ran towards the defender and while the charge occurred, where did the defender put his feet, determining all these is a challenging task for the referee, and labeling the restricted area gives referees a great advantage.

Exceptions For The Rule

However, this rule has several exceptions, which include, if the basketball is in the possession of offensive player was in the lower defensive box, then the other player will stand in the restricted area. Likewise, the restricted area is limited. Its range does not include the area from the backboard bottom to the baseline.

This will ultimately free a player from driving the baseline from a charge under this rule. Moreover, when  the secondary defender decides to block the shot instead of the lane, the position of the player (inside or outside) doesn’t matter anymore in the restricted area.

Where Is The Restricted Area In Basketball Court?

The restricted area in basketball court is the segment designated by an arc. This arc is in the painted area and has a position four feet away from the basket. This arc plays a vital role in basketball because, in this area charging foul cannot be forced by the defending player. The restricted area is labeled through a half-circle. This area is located on each side of the court.

What Is A Charge?

A charge is a foul which occurs when the offensive and the defensive player collide, but for the charge to occur, the defensive player must have his feet firm on the floor and be at a stationary position. The defensive player needs to have an established position when the shoulder or head of the offensive player gets on him. In a charging foul, the offensive player gets penalty either with a turnover or a personal foul. This will cause a loss of position to the offensive player – any basket made during a charging foul is not a goal.

In the basketball game, calling a charge is a tough and challenging task for the referee. The defensive player will get penalty if he is blocking foul and is not in a stationary or did not have both his feet firm on the floor while the offensive player gets on him. It is challenging because the referee has to determine which player should be charged.

How To Take A Charge?

Taking an accurate charge has a few important points to follow. These points are discussed below:

Feet Firm On The Floor And At A Stationary Position

Feet play an important role in charge because it helps determine who should be charged. The player must have his feet at a completely stationary position and firm on the floor to call a charge. In case of any other movement, blocking a foul can occur instead of charge.

Correct Position

The defensive player needs to be at the correct position before the arrival of the offensive player.

Square Your Body

For the shots to be accurate, the player needs to have his body square. It is an essential trait of players too. The technique of squaring the body is also vital in charge. Through this technique,  the opponent runs to your chest; your target becomes the opponent instead of your basketball shot. When the player hits your chest, it makes it easier for the referee to make the call.

Cover Your Body

While squaring bodies, players must cover and protect their bodies, especially their private area. It is essential to save the player from injury.


It is weird to know that sometimes to take charge; the defender needs to be vocal and shout during the contact. It gives the referee an extra reason for calling a charge.

Hit The Floor

The play finishes when the player gets hit and falls down on the floor. I know this is a difficult thing; falling can sometimes be dangerous and harmful for the player, but it is important for a call.

Foul Trouble And The Charge

The players should coordinate during a charge. It is better not to call a charge, which can most likely cause fouling trouble.


This rule was first implemented during the 1997-1998 NBA season and then afterward in international games. Firstly, the restricted area was only three feet, and then afterward, it got converted to four feet, which is more similar to FIBA’s restricted area of 4.1 feet. The restricted area was also used during the 2010-11 season of college games and the 2011-12 season of women basketball.


The restricted area has become an important part of a basketball game around the globe. Before the implementation of the restricted area, the referee had to guess while calling a charge, which sometimes led to a wrong decision. But now, due to this rule, the referee can make a correct and timely decision, and at the same time, it also ensures players’ safety.

The rule of the restricted area is widely recognized around the world. Due to its huge success globally, it is now followed in almost every basketball game of different levels, both nationally and internationally.

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