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Basketball Goaltending

What is a goaltending violation? Get reading to learn about goaltending and basket interference in basketball.


The difference between goaltending and basket interference can be confusing to understand. You may also be confused about the difference between a blocked shot and goaltending. In this tutorial, we'll explain when goaltending vs. basket interference vs. blocked shots.

Basketball Hoop Parts

Every basketball hoop is made of a backboard, rim, and net. It's important to understand the parts of the hoop.

Basketball Hoop

Imaginary Cylinder Above The Rim

Referees imagine a cylinder or cone that extends from the rim going up. This imaginary cylinder above the rim is used when calling goaltending and basket interference.

Basket Interference

If the ball is falling through the rim in this imaginary cylinder it's always basket interference.

Other examples of basket interference:

  • a player touches the ball as it rolls on the rim
  • a player puts his hand or part of his body through the rim
  • a player touches the ball as it bounces off the backboard and is falling in the rim
  • a player hangs on the rim interfering with the ball
  • a player purposely pushes the ball to get stuck between the rim and backboard
  • a player shakes the rim or backboard interfering with the motion of the ball

PRO TIP: If a defender has made legal contact with the ball and touches the rim or net before it goes into the imaginary cylinder, he shouldn't be called for basket interference.

Goaltending vs. Basket Interference

Goaltending and basket interference result in the other team getting two or three points. The offense will get three points if the shot was made beyond the three-point line, and two points if the offensive player shot from inside the arc.

Basketball Three Point Line

No Points

No points are given to a team if goaltending or basket interference was called in a team's backcourt. The ball is to the other team at the spot on the nearest sideline at the free throw line extended.

Basketball Free Throw Line Extended

Jump Ball

If two players, one from each team are called for goaltending at the same time, then the ball is put back into play with a jump ball.

Basketball Jump Ball


Dunking is when a player takes the ball, jumps towards the rim and places it in the rim and net. Dunking is never called as basket interference.

Basketball Dunk


Goaltending is a violation called on a defender who touches the ball while it's flying towards the basket.

Here are examples of goaltending:

  • a player touches the ball outside the imaginary cylinder when it's above the rim
  • a player touches the ball as it is falling towards the rim

PRO TIP: Goaltending can be called on field goals or free throws.

Blocked Shots

A blocked shot is when a defender stops the ball as it is released from the shooter's hands. A blocked shot is legal for a defender as long as the ball is not be above the height of the rim or is falling down towards the rim.

Basketball Block

Toilet Bowl

A slang term for a ball rolling on the rim until it falls in the net is called a toilet bowl. It's called a toilet ball because it resembles water as it flushes down the toilet.


A player is allowed to tip-in the ball if falls off the rim or backboard and out of the imaginary cylinder of the rim.

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