A held ball in basketball occurs when two players simultaneously have firm possession of the ball. In other words, if two players have one or both of their hands firmly on the ball and it is unclear who has control of the ball, a held ball will be signaled by the referee. Held balls typically happen in situations where many players are going for the ball, such as a loose ball or after a rebound. If the players fighting for possession hit the floor or use aggressive movements to try to rip the ball away, a held ball will be called immediately.
The result of a held ball call varies at different levels of basketball. If the referee whistles a held ball, the play will always be stopped. In high school and college basketball, a held ball will be given to the team that currently has the possession arrow. In the NBA, a held ball will result in a jump ball between the players that were fighting for the ball.