College Basketball Rules for Goaltending


The goaltending call in college basketball often produces a strong reaction, total rage or complete delight. A call of defensive goaltending results in the offensive team's being awarded a basket. When offensive goaltending is the call, a basket will be disallowed and the other team is given possession of the ball. The results of the call are always clear--as are the college basketball rules for goaltending.


  • As determined by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, goaltending only occurs when the basketball is in flight. During a normal field-goal attempt, goaltending will be called only if the ball reaches above the hoop and has a viable chance of landing inside the hoop. If the basketball begins its downward flight and is then touched by a defensive player, goaltending should be called.

Free Throws

  • Goaltending will automatically be called under one circumstance: during free throws. Any player who touches the ball before it hits the cylinder during a free-throw attempt, whether the ball is moving up or down, will be guilty of goaltending. Points or possession will be given to the opposite team.


  • The backboard may play a large role in the goaltending call. The rules state that goaltending occurs during field-goal attempts only when the ball is in its downward flight. If the entire ball reaches above the hoop during a standard field-goal attempt and then strikes the backboard, the ball is considered to be in its downward flight (whether or not that is actually the case). If the ball is touched within the scoring cylinder above the hoop after it has hit the backboard, goaltending is the correct call.


  • It is illegal to touch the basketball or the ring of the hoop when the ball itself is on top of the hoop, unless a player's hand is still legally in contact with the ball. For example, if a player is shooting the ball and the ball rests on the rim while the player is still in the act of shooting, there is no call. If a player shoots the ball and an opposing player touches the ball--or the rim--while the ball is resting on the rim, goaltending is the call.

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  • Photo Credit basketball image by aline caldwell from basketball image by KtD from Basketball at free throw line image by Jim Mills from old backboard image by Stepanov from
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