NFHS Case Book

Rule 6 – Live Ball and Dead Ball

< Back to Table of Contents

6.1.1 - Live Ball

Unless a technical foul occurs or a player violates during the dead ball which precedes the start of the game or each extra period, the game and each extra period is started with a jump ball in the center restraining circle. A rejump may be necessary between the jumpers or if the alternating-possession procedure has not been established, a jump ball will take place between the two players involved at the center restraining circle. These situations will be the only time a jump ball will take place in a game. In all other jump-ball situations and the start of the second, third and fourth quarters, the alternating-procedure arrow will determine which team will have the ball for a throw-in. The team which gains control of the jump will start the alternating procedure. The arrow is immediately set pointing toward the opponent’s basket. The alternating procedure can also be established by a violation or foul prior to control of the jump ball. Once established, the alternating procedure is used for the jump ball resulting from a held ball, an out-of-bounds situation where the officials cannot agree on who caused the ball to go out of bounds, a double violation, or when the ball lodges between the backboard and ring or comes to rest on the flange. (6-4)

6.1.2 - Live Ball


Is the ball live: (a) during a free throw; (b) before the tossed ball is legally tapped; or (c) during a throw-in?

RULING: Yes, in all situations.


Team A has just scored a goal. The ball is bouncing close to the end line when: (a) A1 calls for a time-out; or (b) A1 illegally contacts B1.

RULING: In order to rule correctly, it depends on whether the bouncing ball is judged to be at the thrower’s disposal. If the covering official judges it is at the thrower’s disposal, he/she would start the count and the ball becomes live. In this case, in (a), no time-out is granted and the foul in (b), is penalized. If the ball is not at the thrower’s disposal, the time-out is granted in (a), and the contact in (b), is ignored unless it is intentional or flagrant.

COMMENT: In this situation, the covering official must give the new throw-in team a moment or two to recognize it is their ball for a throw-in and get a player into the area to pick up the ball. If the ball is near the end line, it is the throw-in team’s responsibility to secure it and throw-in from anywhere out of bounds along the end line. The covering official shall start his/her throw-in count when it is determined the ball is available. (4-4-7d)

6.3.2 - Jump-Ball Administration

The referee is ready to toss the ball to start the game. (a) A1 who was on the center restraining circle backs off; (b) B1 moves onto the restraining circle into an unoccupied spot; (c) B2 moves off the circle and goes behind A2 and is within 3 feet of the circle; or (d) B3 moves off the circle about 5 feet and moves around behind A3 and A4 who are occupying spaces on the circle.

RULING: Legal in (a) and (d), but a violation in both (b) and (c). Moving off the restraining circle in (a), and around the circle when more than 3 feet away as in (d), is permissible. It is a violation to move onto the circle as in (b), until the ball leaves the official’s hand, or into an occupied space as in (c), until the ball is touched. The violation by B results in a throw-in for Team A. (4-3)

6.3.7 - Jump-Ball Administration

During a jump ball: (a) jumper A1 touches the ball simultaneously with both hands, then touches the ball with the right hand followed by the left hand; or (b) jumpers A1 and B1 do not touch the ball until one or both have returned to the floor.

RULING: In (a), the initial simultaneous touching counts as the first touch, touching the ball then with the right hand is the second touch and is legal. When A1 touches the tossed ball a third time with the left hand, a violation for touching the ball more than twice has occurred. In (b), it is legal; however, if the tossed ball contacts the floor without being touched, the official shall toss it again.

6.4.1 - Technical Before Period Starts


Twelve minutes before the game is scheduled to start, team member A1 dunks the ball and is charged with a technical foul. B1 is discovered to be wearing an illegal jersey, as the players prepare for the start of the game.

RULING: The game will be started by awarding Team B two free throws for A1’s technical foul. Team A will then be given two free throws and the ball for a division-line throw-in for B1’s infraction. When the thrower of Team A has the ball for the throw-in, they have control for purposes of establishing the alternating possession procedure and the arrow is immediately set toward B’s basket. Team B will have the first opportunity for an alternating-possession throw-in. (4-3)

6.4.1 - Arrow Not Reversed


The umpire observes traveling, stepping out of bounds or another violation by A1. At approximately the same time, A1 tries for a field goal or the referee observes contact by B1 on A1.

RULING: The officials must decide definitely which act occurred first. There is no rules coverage to administer the acts as occurring simultaneously. If the violation occurred first, the ball became dead. If the ball was in flight during the try before the touching of the boundary, there was no violation. If the contact occurred after a violation was observed, it is not a foul unless the contact is intentional or flagrant.



A violation and personal contact occur at about the same time. Both are observed by the same official, or the violation is observed by one official and the contact by the other. What is the proper procedure?

RULING: The officials shall decide which occurred first. If the violation was first, it caused the ball to become dead; hence, the contact which followed was not a foul unless intentional or flagrant. If the contact occurred first, it caused the ball to become dead and no violation occurred.

6.4.1 - Jump Ball to Start the Game


Following the jump between A1 and B1 to start the first quarter, the jump ball: (a) is touched by A2 and it then goes out of bounds; (b) is touched simultaneously by A2 and B2 and it then goes out of bounds; (c) is simultaneously controlled by A2 and B2; or (d) is caught by A1.

RULING: In (a), Team B will have a throw-in. The alternating-possession procedure is established and the arrow is set toward A’s basket when a player of Team B has the ball for the throw-in. Team A will have the first opportunity to throw-in when the procedure is used. In (b) and (c), A2 and B2 will jump in the center restraining circle regardless of where the ball went out or where the held ball occurred. In (d), Team B will have a throw-in because of the violation and the arrow for the alternating-possession will be pointed towards Team A’s basket. (4-12-1, 4-28-1)

6.4.1 - Arrow Mistake


It is Team B’s turn for the next throw-in under the alternating possession procedure. By mistake, Team A is given that throw-in. Team A (a) commits a throw-in violation, or (b) releases the ball on the alternating-possession throw-in, but before the ball is legally touched inbounds, Team A or Team B commits a foul or (c) Team A completes the throw-in to teammate A2.

RULING: Once the throw-in ends – it is too late to change anything. In (a), the throw-in ends when Team A violates and results in a throw-in for Team B as well as the arrow for the next alternating possession. In (b), the alternating-possession throw-in did not end when the foul occurred. Therefore, the alternating-possession mistake is corrected and the arrow now favors Team B; penalize the foul appropriately. In (c), it is too late to correct the error of awarding the ball to the wrong team. The alternating-possession arrow will remain for Team B’s next throw-in. (4-42-5, 6-4-4, 6-4-5)

6.4.1 - Setting and Reversing the Arrow


During the jump ball to start the game, after the ball is tossed: (a) B1 violates; (b) B1 fouls A1; or (c) A1 intentionally fouls B1. When is the possession arrow set?

RULING: In (a) and (b), when the ball is in the possession of the thrower of Team A, Team A has gained control for purposes of establishing the procedure, and the arrow is immediately pointed in the direction of B’s basket. In (c), the arrow is pointed in the direction of A’s basket when a player of B has the ball or it is at the thrower’s disposal for the throw-in following the free throws. (4-3)


A team member of Team A is detected dunking about five minutes before the game and a team member of B does the same thing about a minute later.

RULING: The game will start with administration of the technical-foul free throws in the order in which the fouls were called. Team B shoots first followed by Team A. Team A will then be given the ball for a throw-in at the division line opposite the table. When the thrower of Team A is bounced the ball or it is placed at his/her disposal, the possession arrow will be set pointing toward Team B’s basket. (4-3, 7-5-6a)

6.4.3 - Simultaneous Violation


B1, in a marked lane space, enters the lane prematurely. The administering official properly signals the violation and A1 attempts the free throw. However, A1’s attempt does not enter the basket or touch the ring.

RULING: The violations by B1 and A1 constitute a simultaneous free-throw violation. Unless another free throw follows, play resumes with an alternating-possession throw-in from a designated spot outside the end line.

6.4.3 - Ball Lodges


A1 is fouled in the act of shooting by B1. A1’s try lodges between the ring and the backboard.

RULING: A1 is awarded two free throws and play continues as per any similar free-throw situation. Even though the ball lodged, alternating possession is not used as the ball is put in play with the free throws resulting from B1’s foul. Alternating possession would have been used to resume play in this situation if no foul had been committed.

6.4.5 - Loss of Arrow

B1 fouls A1. Team A is in the bonus, but the official erroneously awards the ball to Team A for a throw-in. A1’s throw-in is intercepted by B1 who scores a goal. A1’s throw-in is controlled by A2 who dribbles into Team A’s midcourt and then asks for a time-out. During the time-out, the scorer advises the referee that Team A was in the bonus when B1 fouled A1.

RULING: It is too late to correct the error. The error could have been corrected anytime during the dead ball following the goal by B1, as this was the first dead ball after the clock started following the error.

6.4.5 - Held Ball on Throw-In - No Arrow Change


During an alternating-possession throw-in, thrower A1 holds the ball through the end-line plane and B1 grabs it, resulting in a held ball.

RULING: Since the throw-in had not ended and no violation occurred, it is still A’s ball for an alternating-possession throw-in. (4-42-5)

6.5 - Putting the Ball in Play

What is the procedure for putting the ball in play after: (a) a violation; (b) a charged time-out; (c) a substitution; (d) an official’s time-out; (e) a successful field goal or free throw; (f) a score followed immediately by a timeout; or (g) after a common foul before the bonus rule applies.

RULING: In (a), (b), (c), (d) and (g), the official shall hand or bounce (as applicable by NFHS Officials Manual) the ball to the player at the spot designated for the throw-in. In (e), the ball may be thrown in anywhere along the end line. The official shall not handle the ball unless in doing so it will prevent a delay. In (f), the official shall hand or bounce (as applicable by NFHS Officials Manual) the ball to a player of the team entitled to the throw-in, after which the throw-in may be made anywhere along the end line. (7-5-7, 8-5)

6.7 - Dead-Ball Situations


The ball is in flight during a try or a tap for goal by A1 when time for the third quarter expires. After time expires, the ball is on the ring or in the basket or is touching the cylinder above the basket when it is touched by: (a) A2; or (b) B1. The ball then goes through the basket or does not go through.

RULING: In (a) and (b), the ball became dead as the try ended with the violation. In (a), no points can be scored because of the offensive basket interference by A2. However, in (b), since the touching is defensive basket interference by B1, two points are awarded to A1. Whether or not the ball goes through the basket has no effect upon either ruling. (4-6, 6-7-9 NOTE, 9-11)


After A1 starts the free-throwing motion, A2 commits a foul by pushing B1 along the lane.

RULING: If the foul occurred after the ball was in flight, the point counts if the throw was successful and no substitute throw is awarded if not successful. If A1 had not released the free-throw attempt before A2 fouled B1, the ball became dead when the team-control foul occurred and A1 is permitted an unhindered free throw. The foul by A2 results in the ball being awarded to Team B at the out-of-bounds spot nearest to where A2 fouled B1, unless the free-throw attempt by A1 is successful in which case B will throw-in from out of bounds anywhere along the end line where the free throw was scored. (4-19-7, 4-19-9, 7-5-7)

6.7 - Continuous Motion


If an opponent fouls after A1 has started to throw for goal, A1 is permitted to complete the customary arm movement; and, if A1 is pivoting or stepping when A1 or a teammate is fouled, A1 may complete the usual foot or body movement in any activity, as long as A1 is still holding the ball. If A1 starts a dribble, the “continuous motion” immediately ends. These privileges are granted only when the usual throwing motion has started before the foul occurs. The continuous-motion rule applies to a free-throw try as well as to a field-goal try or tap for goal. However, in a tap for goal, the motion does not begin until the ball is touched.

The “continuous-motion” provision does not apply to batting or tipping the ball during rebounding or a jump ball. In these cases, A1 is not considered as being in the act of trying or tapping for goal. If an opponent commits a foul during this type of action before the ball is in flight, the foul causes the ball to become dead immediately. In rebounding, the ball is not always batted. It might be caught in one hand and then thrown into the basket with a snap of the wrist or fingers or touched and tapped toward the basket. Under these circumstances, an official is justified in ruling that it is a try or tap instead of a bat. Continuous motion is of significance only when there is a personal or technical foul by B after the trying or tapping motion by A1 is started and before the ball is in flight. It includes any body, foot or arm motion normally used in trying for a field goal or free throw, and it ends when the ball leaves the hand(s) on the try or tap. (4-11)


Under what circumstances does the ball remain live when a foul occurs just prior to the ball being in flight during a try or tap?

RULING: The ball would ordinarily become dead at once, but it remains live if the foul is by the defense, and this foul occurs after A1 has started the try or tap for goal and time does not expire before the ball is in flight. The foul by the defense may be either personal or technical and the exception to the rule applies to field goal tries and taps and free-throw tries. (4-11, 4-41-1)


A1 has started a try for a goal (is in the act of shooting), but the ball is not yet in flight when the official blows the whistle for B2 fouling A2. A1’s try is successful.

6.7 - Dead Ball - Live Ball


Prior to the bonus and after A1 starts the free-throwing motion: B5 fouls A5.

RULING: The “continuous motion” rule applies and A1 may release the ball and if the throw is successful, the point counts. Award Team A the ball out-of-bounds at the spot nearest to where B5 fouled A5. (4-19-12)

6.7.4 - Dead Ball - Live Ball

Airborne A1 is fouled by B1 during a field-goal try or tap. After the ball is in flight, A1 illegally contacts B2 in returning to the floor. The ball goes through the basket.

RULING: The foul by B1 did not cause the ball to become dead since A1 had started the trying or tapping motion. However, airborne shooter A1’s foul is a player-control foul which does cause the ball to become dead immed­iately. No goal can be scored even if the ball had already gone through the basket before the foul. Since the goal is unsuccessful, A1 is awarded two free throws for the foul by B1. No players are allowed in the lane spaces as Team B will be awarded the ball following the last free throw. If the last throw is successful, the throw-in is from anywhere along the end line. If the last throw is unsuccessful, the throw-in is from a designated spot nearest the foul. The situation is a false double foul. (4-11, 4-19-6)

6.7.6 - Dead Ball - Live Ball

A4 commits his/her fifth foul. The official notifies the coach, then signals the timer to begin the 15-second interval for replacing the player and then notifies the player regarding the disqualification. In (a), the required substitute reports within 5 seconds; (b) no substitute has reported by the end of the 15-second interval.

RULING: In (a), the substitute is beckoned into the game by the officials and play resumes. In (b), the timer shall signal a warning horn at the beginning of 15 seconds and then sound another horn at the end of the 15-second interval. (10-6-2 PENALTY)

6.7.7 - Dead Ball - Live Ball

As the hand of A1 contacts the ball to tap it toward Team A’s basket, B1 fouls A1. The ball definitely is not airborne from the hand of A1 when the contact occurs, but the tapped ball goes into the basket.

RULING: The foul does not cause the ball to become dead immediately. The subsequent tap of the ball results in a goal, the same as a try for goal. The foul is penalized the same as being fouled in the act of shooting. Continuous motion does apply to a tap. (4-11, 4-41-2, 4-41-5)

6.7.9 - Dead Ball - Live Ball

A1 is fouled in the act of shooting by B1. While the ball is in the cylinder above the basket, A2 touches the ball.

RULING: The basket interference by A2 causes the ball to become dead and no goal can be scored. However, A1 is awarded two free throws for being fouled in the act of shooting an unsuccessful try. Players must occupy lane spaces as required and play continues as per rule when the last free throw is made or missed. (9-11)