What Is Goaltending In Basketball?

Goaltending In Basketball

Key Takeaway: Goaltending in basketball is not a foul but a violation where players interfere with the ball during a downward goal attempt before it reaches the imaginary cylinder. Understanding the rules and penalties associated with goaltending ensures fair play and equal opportunities for all players on the court.

What is goaltending in basketball? Have you ever come across the term goaltending in basketball? Well, don’t be surprised if you don’t know about it. The term goaltending is often confused with other terms in basketball. 

Most of the time, it is used interchangeably with basket interference. But they are not quite the same. Goaltending is actually a violation of the game. 

In this post, we will explain to you about goaltending in a simple way. We will also discuss the penalty and show you how it is different from other rules.

What does Goaltending mean in Basketball?

First things first, goaltending is not a foul. It is a basketball violation. This violation happens when one or more than one player interferes with the ball. It occurs during a goal attempt. 

The ball must be on a downward flight. The basketball shot needs to be intentional. Also, there must be a fair chance of the ball going through the net. Some conditions need to be met in order to declare this violation. 

In professional games like NBA, WNBA, and NCAA, there are additional criteria. Here, if a player interferes with the ball after it touches the backboard, it will count as goaltending. We know it gets confusing, so to help you, we will explain it with the help of a diagram.

The diagram to understand Goaltending:

To understand goaltending violation in basketball, you need to learn about the basketball hoop first. There are four main parts of the hoop:

  • Backboard: The backboard is the board behind the hoop. The board supports the hoop. 
  • Rim: The rim of the hoop is the circular area where the ball enters the net.
  • Net: The net is the pattern of strings through which the ball passes
  • Imaginary Cylinder: The cylinder area above the rim is known as an imaginary cylinder. It does not physically exist.
Goaltending In Basketball

Now, goaltending only happens when the ball is coming towards the hoop in a downward slope and is interfered with before it reaches the imaginary cylinder.

Also, if the ball touches the backboard and is in a downward slope towards the hoop and is interfered with outside the imaginary cylinder, it is a violation.

Example of Goaltending in Basketball

Here there are two teams namely A and B. Now, player of team A attempts a shot which is high above the rim in a downward slope. 

The ball has fair chances of going through the net. But then, a player of team B jumps and interferes with the ball while it is still on a downward slope and outside the imaginary cylinder.

Here, the referee will call for a goaltending violation. As per the situation, a penalty will be given. We will discuss the penalty in detail later on.

Basically, five things matter here,

  • The intention of the shot
  • Chance of score
  • The downward slope of the ball
  • Imaginary cylinder
  • Interference by players

Goaltending in Basketball History

This rule came into existence in the year 1944. NCAA was first to implement it, followed by the NBA. The man behind goaltending rule was George Mikan. 

He was the first player to jump so high to commit this violation. He used to steal the ball because of his height and strength before it can hit the basket. So to give a fair chance to other players, this rule came into existence. 

Before 1944, people thought jumping so high was not possible. Because of that, the rules were not applicable. But now, you will find many tall players who jump really high to stop the ball from going inside the basket. This rule actually gives a fair chance to all types of players irrespective of their physical characteristics.

Goaltending in NBA

Goaltending is the 11th official NBA rule. You will find this rule in the NBA rulebook. This rule is given along with the basketball interference rule. But both these rules are actually different.

In the NBA, there is an additional rule which includes the board. So the players have to be really careful. Although this violation is hardly seen in the NBA, it does and exists. Here, the referee called off the breach if the shot hits the basket and will fall into it.

As most of the NBA players are tall, it is elementary to steal the ball by jumping high. To prevent this, the goaltending rule is implied. There is a strict penalty for this violation, so the players need to be really careful while stealing the ball or blocking the shot.

Importance of Goaltending in Basketball

This rules may seem like a burden, but it is actually instrumental. These rules make the game fair for everyone. Tall players cannot take advantage of their height to stop the shot, as it will be a violation against short players. 

It maintains the excellent spirit of the game and makes it more interesting for the audience. Players will average height will get equal chances like tall players. There will be no bias. 

As tall players can easily steal the ball, the game will become boring without goaltending rules, and people will lose interest in it. With new and fair laws, the game keeps going strong.

Goaltending Penalty

It is quite easy to understand the penalty. As we know, there are two teams, defensive and offensive. So if the player in defense commits goaltending, points will be given to the attacking team.

If it is a 2 point shot, the same number of points will be given to the team.

Moreover, if it is 3 point shot, then 3 points will be given.

If it happens during free-throw, 1 point is given to the team. Also, the offending player will get foul.

The player of the offensive team can also be responsible for goaltending. This part of the rule is quite challenging to determine, which makes it a controversial topic.

Controversy Associated with Goaltending

The topic of debate arises when it comes to the offensive player. This rule can change the outcome of the game, especially in the last minute of the game. 

An offensive player might assist the ball by tipping it inside the basket. An offline shot can also result in a score if the other player tips the ball in the basket.

All of these scenarios are controversial. The referee needs to use a video relay to determine the violation.

In 2013 -14 NBA season, Jermaine O’Neal was given the goaltending penalty because of which they lost the match to Phoenix Suns even after the expiry of time.

Confusion with Other Terms

Goaltending is often used interchangeably with basket interference. The difference is quite slim. Basket interference happens when the ball is in the imaginary circle. 

If the player interferes with the ball or the basket while the ball is in the imaginary cylinder, it is basket interference. This is the only difference, but people still get confused. 

The fact in the NBA rulebook, both these violations are given together. In the end, it doesn’t matter because the penalty is safe for both these violations.

So, this is all you need to know about the goaltending violation in basketball. Although it is a controversial rule, it is quite useful for players. Most players seem to avoid it, but you will come across this violation in few games.

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