NFHS Case Book

Rule 8 – Free Throw

< Back to Table of Contents

8.1.1 - Placing at Disposal


A1 is awarded two free throws. After the players have had sufficient opportunity and time to take their positions for the first throw, the administering official bounces the ball to the free thrower. Did the official follow proper procedure?

RULING: Yes. On free throws, the word “disposal” is interpreted to mean that the official shall bounce the ball to the free thrower, but if the free thrower refuses to accept it, the official may place the ball on the floor at the free-throw line and begin the count. This procedure constitutes putting the ball at the free-thrower’s disposal. However, in this situation, the ball becomes live when it is caught by the free thrower. (4-4-7b)

8.1.1 - Delay - Team Warning


B1 fouls A1 during an unsuccessful try for goal. The ruling official has properly reported the foul and is in position for the free throws. The administering official has given all instructions and signals. Team B is properly occupying the required spaces, but three teammates of A1 are huddling inside the lane.

RULING: Team A is warned for delay, the scorer records it and it is reported to the head coach. If Team A commits any delay thereafter in the game, a team technical foul shall be charged. (10-2-1b, 10-2-1c)

8.1.3 - Lane Space Regulations

Players attempt to take positions along the lane when: (a) the free throw is from the first foul of a false double foul and the last part is a double personal foul; (b) the free throw is between quarters; or (c) there is a multiple throw with the first for a personal and last for a technical foul.

RULING: In (a), the first marked spaces must be occupied by opponents of the thrower during free throw(s) for the personal foul and other marked spaces may properly be occupied. In (b) and (c), the official should order the players away. (4-19-8a, 4-36-1, 4-36-2b, 7-5-3b, 8-6)

8.1.4 - Lane Space Regulations


A1 is at the free-throw line for the first attempt of a bonus situation. In (a), two Team B and two Team A players occupy the first and second marked lane spaces, respectively. B3 occupies one of the third marked lane spaces. A3 attempts to occupy the vacant third marked lane space; or (b) two Team B players occupy the first marked lane spaces. The offense chooses not to occupy any marked lane spaces. Two more Team B players choose to occupy the second marked lane spaces.

RULING: Illegal in (a), A3 is not permitted to occupy the third marked lane space. Only two offensive players may occupy marked lane spaces during a free throw. If the improper alignment is not corrected prior to the thrower having the ball at his/her disposal, a free-throw violation shall be called on Team A immediately. Legal in (b), four defensive players are permitted in any of the first three vacant marked lane spaces.


A1 is fouled and is at the free-throw line. Team B refuses to occupy the first marked lane spaces.

RULING: A technical foul shall be charged to Team B for unsporting conduct. The lane shall be cleared and A1 shall be given the warranted free throws. Team A’s coach will then designate who will shoot the free throws for the technical foul. The technical foul free throws will be shot. The ball will then be administered at the division line to Team A. (10-4-5)

8.2 - Designated Thrower


A1 is unable to attempt either of the two free throws awarded be­cause A1 was injured during the play. A6 enters, replaces A1 and attempts the first free throw. A7 reports and enters to replace A6.

RULING: A7 must return to the bench and A6 remains in the game to attempt the second free throw. Since A6 replaced A1, A6 must shoot both free throws, unless A6 is injured or disqualified before attempting the second free throw. If this situation involved technical foul free throws, A7 would be allowed to enter and attempt the second free throw. (8-3)


A1 is fouled and will be shooting two free throws. After A1’s first free-throw attempt, B6 (Team B’s only remaining eligible substitute) replaces B2. A1’s second free-throw attempt is unsuccessful. During rebounding action for A1’s missed second free-throw attempt, and before the clock starts, A1 pushes B3 in the back causing B3 to roll an ankle. Team B is in the bonus. B3 is unable to immediately continue playing. Team B requests and is granted a time out in order to allow B3 to recover from the ankle injury so as to remain in the game. B3 is still not able to play after the time out has ended.

RULING: B2 may return to the game and replace B3 and shoot B3’s free throw attempts despite having been replaced since he/she is the only available substitute. (3-3-4, 2-3)

8.3 - Designated Thrower

A technical foul is issued prior to the start of the game and the game begins with free throws. Non-starter, A6, is brought in to the game to attempt the free throws and replaces starter A5.

RULING: Legal substitute. The ball becomes live to start the game when placed at A6’s disposal. A6 and A5 are subject to proper substitution rules. A5 may not re-enter until the next opportunity to substitute after the clock has been properly started. (3-2-2a, 3-3-4)

8.6.1 - Officials Provide Erroneous Information

A1 is about to attempt the first of a one-and-one free-throw situation. The administering official steps in and erroneously informs players that two free throws will be taken. A1’s first attempt is unsuccessful. The missed free throw is rebounded by: (a) B1, with all other players motionless in anticipation of another throw; (b) A2, with all other players motionless in anticipation of another throw; or (c) B2, with several players from both teams attempting to secure the rebound.  The officials recognize their error at this point.

RULING: In (a) and (b), the official’s error clearly put one team at a disadvantage (players stood motionless and didn’t attempt to rebound). Play should be ruled dead immediately and resumed using the alternating-possession procedure. In (c), both teams made an attempt to rebound despite the official’s error and had an equal opportunity to gain possession of the rebound. Play should continue. (2-3, 2-10)

8.6.2 - Putting the Ball in Play


Team A is assessed with a technical foul. Immediately after the ball is bounced to B1 at the free-throw line, A2 flagrantly contacts B2. A2 is disqualified.

RULING: Players will not be permitted to take positions along the lane for the technical-foul throws or for the free throws for the flagrant personal foul by A2. Following B2’s two throws, Team B will be awarded the ball for a throw-in at the out-of-bounds spot nearest to where A2’s foul occurred. (7-5-4b, 10 PENALTY 4)


B1 fouls A1 just as the first quarter ends and then A1 retaliates and intentionally contacts B1. A1’s foul is a technical foul as it occurred during a dead ball. Team A is in the bonus. The officials by mistake administer the penalty for the technical foul before the free throw(s) by A1.

RULING: The penalties should have been administered in the order in which the fouls occurred. However, since all merited free throws were attempted it does not constitute a correctable error situation. The second quarter will begin with an alternating-possession throw-in. (4-19-5c)


During the dead-ball period immediately following a goal by A1, B1 is charged with an unsporting technical foul for using profanity toward A1. A few seconds later, A2 is charged with an unsporting technical foul for taunting B1. Are free throws awarded or are the fouls considered to have occurred simultaneously with offsetting penalties?

RULING: The fouls did not occur simultaneously and free throws are awarded in the order in which the fouls occurred. Team A will attempt their two free throws followed by Team B’s two attempts. Following the second attempt by Team B, they will have a throw-in from the division line opposite the table. (4-19-9, 4-19-10)

8.6.3 - Putting the Ball in Play


A1 is attempting the second free throw of a two-shot foul. While the second free throw is in flight, A2 and B1 punch each other simultaneously.

RULING: Both A2 and B1 are disqualified for fighting. Since this is a double personal foul, no free throws are awarded. The ball is put in play at the point of interruption. If A1’s free throw is successful, Team B is awarded a throw-in from anywhere along the end line. If A1’s free throw is unsuccessful, the alternating-possession procedure is used. (4-19-8, 4-36, 6-4-3f, 7-5-3b, 10-4-8)


A1 and B1 commit personal fouls against each other at the same time. The coach of Team A takes exception to the ruling and is charged with a technical foul.

RULING: There are no free throws for the double personal foul committed by A1 and B1. Team B is awarded two free throws and the ball out of bounds at the division line for the technical foul charged directly to the coach of Team A. (4-19-8, 4-19-9, 10-5-1e)