Keys to Correctly Ruling Goaltending

When ruling on goaltending in a NFHS game, there are 4 key points to consider.  There is also one major difference between the high school rule and the college rule, which causes some misinterpretation by coaches and officials.  In high school, these are the keys points to remember.

The player must touch the ball on its downward flight.

It must be entirely above the basket ring level.

It has to have possibility of entering the basket.

It is NOT touching the basket cylinder.

Play Analysis

The most important of these is the first.  The player must touch the ball while it is on its downward flight.  If it is still moving upwards, then it can not be considered goaltending – EVEN IF the ball is touched after it has contacted the backboard.

This is different than the college rule, which states, “goaltending is also called if the ball has already touched the backboard while being above the height of the rim in its flight.”  However, notice it still says that it has to be above the height of the rim.

The last key point, that the ball is not touching the basket cylinder is important only in that it changes what the call is.  If the ball is touching the cylinder when a player touches the ball, the ruling becomes basket interference rather than goaltending.

Keep these points in mind the next time you see a possible goaltending and you will have what you need to explain to the coach why it was or wasn’t goaltending.  Check out this play, apply these key points, and decide if this was a “correct no call.”


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