The Rule on the Blocking Foul
The Block/Charge Rule set is one of those rules that seems easily explained, but is hard to rule consistently. All a player must do is first gain a legal guarding position, which is two feet on the floor, facing the opponent. When explaining a ruling, we often say things like, “He didn’t maintain his legal guarding position.” or “She didn’t obtain a legal guarding position.” However, there is a lot to consider in obtaining and maintaining this position before we rule a blocking foul.
Let’s look at a few key components to the rule – and we are only going to focus on the Blocking criteria.
Rule 4-7-1 states, “Blocking is illegal personal contact which impedes the progress of an opponent with or without the ball.”
Rule 4-23-1 though 5 is a little more complicated, but for our discussion here, we will focus on obtaining and maintaining a legal position. Article 2, “To obtain an initial legal guarding position, the guard must have both feet touching the playing court, and the front of the guard’s torso must be facing the opponent. ” Two feet, facing!
To maintain this legal position the guard;
- may have one or both feet on the playing court, or be airborne.
- is not required to continue facing the opponent.
- may move laterally or obliquely, but not toward.
- may raise hands or jump within his/her own vertical plane.
- may turn or duck to absorb the shock of imminent contact.
Notice this says nothing about ‘being set.’ Everything stated in Rule 23 contradicts this common misconception!
Start, Develop, Finish
This is a commonly used tool to keep us focused on the court. The whole purpose behind this tool is to make sure that there isn’t an anticipation of the foul, but the anticipation of the play. In the following play, the official did an excellent job of seeing this play start, develop, and finish before making a ruling. This allowed him to take all of the above criteria into consideration before ruling.
In this play, the defender obtained position while guarding in the backcourt. The defender maintained the position up until the dribbler made her move to the basket and got her head/shoulders past the defenders torso. At this point, the defender is no longer in a legal guarding position and impedes the progress of the dribbler. Any contact made by the defender should then be ruled a blocking foul.
A Note on Floor Mechanics
Watch the video again and focus on the location of the center official. He should not be officiating this matchup in the backcourt along with the trail official. There are 4 eyes on 2 players in the backcourt, and 2 eyes on 8 players in the front court. The center official would be in a better position to receive this play if he let his partner officiate this matchup and move down to the free-throw line extended. This would also help the lead officiate the remaining 8 players.