Goaltending Basketball

Basketball Goaltending

In basketball, it is illegal to touch the ball when it has a chance of going in the basket. This is known as goaltending. 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 the difference between goaltending, basket interference, and blocked shots.

Basketball Hoop Parts

Basketball Hoop

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

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 above the rim within 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

Goaltending vs. Basket Interference

Basketball Three Point Line

Goaltending and basket interference are often used simultaneously and interchangeably. Technically, there is a difference, though: Goaltending only occurs when a shot attempt is on its downward trajectory toward the basket and is interfered with while not yet inside the imaginary cylinder. Basket interference is more inclusive, applying to scenarios in which there is a live ball in the imaginary cylinder or on the rim or backboard.

Goaltending and basket interference can be called on the offense or defense. When committed by the defense, both result in the other team getting two or three points. The offense will get three points if the shot is attempted from beyond the three-point line, and two points if the offensive player shoots from inside the arc.

No Points

Basketball Free Throw Line Extended

No points are given to a team if goaltending or basket interference is 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.

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 slam dunk

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.

Blocked Shots

Basketball 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 above the height of the rim or is falling down towards the rim.

Goaltending often occurs when defenders try to block shots and do not get to the ball soon enough. As soon as the shot has a downward trajectory and is blocked while above the rim, it is goaltending.

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 it falls off the rim or backboard and out of the imaginary cylinder of the rim.