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Monday, January 17, 2011

To Travel or Not To Travel - Basketball Rules

Joe wanted me to write more of these so here is another for you.  This time I decided to take on a call that some people see every now and then.  Fans get to pester a player when it does happen.  AIR BALL!  AIR BALL!  AIR BALL!  It's all happened to us sometime.  Maybe not on the grand scale of being in an arena with 18,000 people yelling it at you, but you get the idea.  I thought of this one yesterday actually as I was watching the Purdue and West Virginia game.  It happened towards the end of the game and Gus Johnson (who by the way I just really don't like to listen to because it's always over exaggerated) said there was no travel called.  I've had to explain this rule a few times.  Especially in a game that I'm reffing and it happens because the coach will jump all over my ass wanting to know why it's not a travel. 

You've probably guessed by now that I'm talking about when a shooter has an air ball and then is the first to touch the ball after he shoots.  Now I will give it to you that this is a travel in the NBA.  However, this is not a travel in high school or college.  Yes it applies to grade school (middle school, jr high, however else you want to say it) as well because they use high school rules.  You can be the first to touch it after you shoot an air ball.  There is a phrase that we also use in football with similar rules that are in the NFL but not in college or high school.  We usually say, "This isn't Sunday coach."  Even though some grade schools play on Sunday.  I realize the ironic nature of that statement.  Guess what else you can do though after an air ball?  Yes, that's right you can even start dribbling again after you gain the rebound.  It is considered a rebound.  This is because on a shot, once the ball leaves the hand of the shooter there is no player possession. 

Now here is the catch to this.  In the judgment of the official it must be considered an attempted shot.  If they consider it a pass attempt you could be called for travel, or double dribble, or whatever else you might think could be called.  The same is when a player in the back court, picks up their dribble, throws it off of the backboard, then starts dribbling again.  This would be a double dribble.  But you can do this in the front court.  AS LONG AS it is an attempted shot.  For instance, in one game I had a player attempt a shot deep in the corner near the 3 point line on the opposite side of the floor from me.  He went to shoot the ball going through the full shooting motion, it slipped and came out of his hand at the top of his shot, went straight up in the air, came back down and was the first to touch it.  He then started dribbling again, went around the player toward the basket and had a lay up attempt.  I don't remember if he made the lay up, but I was in front of the bench up top near half court while this happened right in front of the other official I was working with on the baseline.  The coach asked why it wasn't a travel.  I was surprised that he didn't yell it, but that could be because I knew him.  I told him that as long as it is an attempted shot, he could dribble again and be the first to touch the ball.  The other official said the same thing to him when he asked.  It was the right call.

So this was my rule for this time.  I'll have more later.  If there is one you want to ask and would like an answer for just about football or basketball let me know.