Legal Guarding Position

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33.3 Legal guarding position

A defensive player has established an initial legal guarding position when:

  • He is facing his opponent, and
  • He has both feet on the floor.

The legal guarding position extends vertically above him (cylinder) from the floor to the ceiling. He may raise his arms and hands above his head or jump vertically but he must maintain them in a vertical position inside the imaginary cylinder.


33.4 Guarding a player who controls the ball

When guarding a player who controls (holding or dribbling) the ball, the elements of time and distance do not apply. The player with the ball must expect to be guarded and must be prepared to stop or change his direction whenever an opponent takes an initial legal guarding position in front of him, even if this is done within a fraction of a second.The guarding (defensive) player must establish an initial legal guarding position without causing contact before taking his position. Once the defensive player has established an initial legal guarding position, he may move to guard his opponent, but he may not extend his arms, shoulders, hips or legs to prevent the dribbler from passing by him. When judging a charge/block situation involving a player with the ball, an official shall use the following principles:

  • The defensive player must establish an initial legal guarding position by facing the player with the ball and having both feet on the floor.
  • The defensive player may remain stationary, jump vertically, move laterally or backwards in order to maintain the initial legal guarding position.
  • When moving to maintain the initial legal guarding position, one foot or both feet may be off the floor for an instant, as long as the movement is lateral or backwards, but not towards the player with the ball.
  • Contact must occur on the torso, in which case the defensive player would be considered as having been at the place of contact first.
  • Having established a legal guarding position the defensive player may turn within his cylinder to avoid injury.In any of the above situations, the contact shall be considered as having been

caused by the player with the ball.


33.5 Guarding a player who does not control the ball

A player who does not control the ball is entitled to move freely on the playing court and take any position not already occupied by another player. When guarding a player who does not control the ball, the elements of time and distance shall apply. A defensive player cannot take a position so near and/or so quickly in the path of a moving opponent that the latter does not have sufficient time or distance either to stop or change his direction. The distance is directly proportional to the speed of the opponent, never less than one (1) normal step.If a defensive player does not respect the elements of time and distance in taking his initial legal guarding position and contact with an opponent occurs, he is responsible for the contact. Once a defensive player has established an initial legal guarding position, he may move to guard his opponent. He may not prevent him from passing by extending his arms, shoulders, hips or legs in his path. He may turn within his cylinder to avoid injury.

33.6 A player who is in the air

A player who has jumped into the air from a place on the playing court has the right to land again at the same place. He has the right to land on another place on the playing court provided that the landing place and the direct path between the take-off and landing place is not already occupied by an opponent(s) at the time of take-off. If a player has taken off and landed but his momentum causes him to contact an opponent who has taken a legal guarding position beyond the landing place, the jumper is responsible for the contact. An opponent may not move into the path of a player after that player has jumped into the air. Moving under a player who is in the air and causing contact is usually an unsportsmanlike foul and in certain circumstances may be a disqualifying foul.