2.3 Violations

It is worthwhile for players and coaches to do an introductory referee course so that they have both a good understanding of the rules and they also appreciate how difficult the referee’s role is.

The main violations that occur in basketball are:

  • Travelling;
  • Illegal dribble;
  • “Cross court” violation.


Basketball is a very dynamic game and players can move with the ball, provided that they are “dribbling”. This ensures that basketball is a fast moving game.

It is critical that all players understand the significance of their pivot foot and can determine which foot is their pivot foot.

Whenever a player catches a ball, the official will determine which is their pivot foot, according to the following rules:

  • If the ball is caught while the player has both feet in the air, the first foot that lands on the floor is their pivot foot;
  • If the ball is caught while the player has both feet in the air and they land with both feet at the same time - the player can choose which foot to use as their pivot. When they lift one foot, the other foot automatically is their pivot foot.
  • If the ball is caught while a player has one foot on the floor, that is their pivot foot.
  • If the ball is caught while a player has both feet on the floor, they can choose which is their pivot foot.

The significance of the pivot foot is:

  • If the player wants to dribble, the ball must leave their hand BEFORE their pivot foot leaves the floor.
  • If the player lifts their pivot foot, they must either pass the ball or shoot it BEFORE putting their pivot foot back on the floor.

Breaching either rule is a travelling violation. It should be noted that in many professional leagues, players are given leniency in regards to travelling. However, coaches should teach their players to move with the ball without travelling.

Illegal Dribble

A player with the ball can move if they are dribbling. Dribbling is when the ball is bounced with one hand onto the floor. Putting two hands on the ball ends the dribble. The player can change the hand they are dribbling with, but after the ball hits one hand it must hit the floor next to be a valid dribble. The hand dribbling the ball should be on the top or on the side of the ball. Any dribble stops if the ball comes to “rest” in the player’s hands (e.g. if they had their hand under the ball). If the player keeps dribbling, this is a violation.

“Cross Court” violation

The team is divided into two sections by the “half way” line. The front court is the end where a teams is trying to score. Their “back court” is the end where they are defending and trying to stop their opponent from scoring.

Once the ball is in a team’s front court, it cannot be taken back into the team’s back court. The ball is regarded as being in the front court when:

  • The ball is passed to (and caught by!) a player that has one or two feet in the front court;
  • When a player is dribbling across the half way line, it is only in the front court when both of the player’s feet and the ball have all touched the front court.